Workbench #2: Getting Started

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Blog entry by ndtrek07 posted 08-10-2012 08:27 AM 1990 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Introduction Part 2 of Workbench series no next part

So, after a bit of a delay, I’ll now start with a recap of what I’m building, and what I’ve done so far.

The Plan
First, the plan I’m working off of is for the ‘Woodsmith Workbench’, found in issue 173 of Woodsmith Magazine, and also at There’s a few pics at that website, but I’m not sure if I’m allowed to embed them here or not. I’m basically following that plan with a few modifications:
1) instead of the maple top (made of glued up maple 2×4s), I’m using an alternative provided in the plan, namely 2 layers of 3/4” MDF, glued up with a 1/4” hardboard on top.
2) Adding some drawers under the table top
3) Possibly adding some retractable wheels, based on some mods to similar plans that I’ve seen on lumberjocks.

The Wood
I started out by tring to find the hard maple that this plan calls for. The plan comes with a great diagram, detailing all the pieces of wood you’ll need, and how to cut what pieces out of each board…however, I quickly discovered that it much harder than I expected to find maple boards of an exact size. I also discovered that hard maple is quite a bit cheaper if it hasn’t been surfaced…a concept that I only fully realized right before I was about to drive across town to the place that was selling it for much less than my local lumberyard.

Luckily, I was able to find a number of boards which were mostly straight—at least enough to get started with. My lumberyard surfaces on 3 sides, with was important for me, as I don’t have a planer.

So, I had my wood and my tools: Finally, ready to get started!

Part 1: The feet, legs, and support arms.
The feet are made from two 1-3/4” x 4” boards, glued together after using a dado blade to cut out the mortises. This was my first use of a dado blade, and it turned out pretty well. The same concept is used for the support arms, which the tenons on the top of the legs go into. I was feeling pretty good after ripping some the boards, and cutting to the proper dimensions, and completing the mortises.

Then, all I had to do was glue the pieces together. Easy, right? Well, maybe if I wasn’t a noob.
It started out all right…cleaning the boards, test fitting dry, applying the glue and clamps. But then I didn’t quite know what to do with it, so I set it down on the newspaper that I had laid out in case the glue dripped. The next day when I checked on it, I was happy to see that it looked like it had dried and appeared to be aligned. Then I picked it up…and the glue that had eventually seeped out had pooled, been slightly absorbed by the newspaper, and dried. Leaving me with a “bump” of newspaper print colored glue where the two boards came together.

I wised up after the first batch, and no longer set it on the newspaper to dry, but I still hadn’t figured out how to stop the glue from pooling up. I ended up chiseling off the “bump” to make it sit level on the floor, which ended up working just fine, as most of the chiseled part was going to be removed anyway when I made the center cutouts.

Here’s what the feet looked like after the chiseling: (yep, a mess)

And the feet, upside down, after the cutouts were added: (less of a mess)

I did the cutouts with a flush trim router bit (2” cut length, one pass on each side of each piece), clamping a guide board on the edge of the cutout for bit to trace along.

The support arms that attach to the top of the legs follow the same idea of the feet, minus the cutout. I did these at the same time as the feet.

Next up were the legs. For these, I glued up long 1-1/2” x 3-1/2” maple boards, then cut 4 identical lengths, one for each leg. This time, I glued & clamped, then came back after the first couple of hours to removed any glue that was dripping out. After it was a little tacky, I used a chisel to lightly remove it before it completely dried. The end result was much nicer then my first gluing attempt with the feet.

The Legs:

Feels like I’ve done alot more work than that, but at the moment I’m cutting the mortises on the ends of the legs. I’ll make that my next update.

On a side note, I did take a minor detour, spending some time making a Thein Dust Separator , following the instructions at Evenfall Woodworks for a 5 gallon bucket version. I was getting tired of my shop-vac filling up the 2” or so it had before the dust hits the bottom of the filter, not to mention trying to clean the filter every couple days I used it. The Thein baffle works great, and my shop-vac and filter are staying exceptionally clean, making me a happy lumberjock.

Shop Vac Filter & Container with no dust collector:

5 Gallon Dust Collector:

Shop Vac Filter & Container with dust collector:

And the separator itself:

-- Chris

2 comments so far

View AJswoodshop's profile


1057 posts in 2300 days

#1 posted 08-10-2012 12:21 PM

Looking good!


View bhack's profile


349 posts in 3744 days

#2 posted 08-10-2012 12:42 PM

I used the same plans and did use the mdf top and it works out great. I am thinking of adding drawers so will be interested in your build.

-- Bill - If I knew GRANDKIDS were so much fun I would have had them first.

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