|Project by Reddial||posted 06-27-2014 05:14 AM||3890 views||31 times favorited||22 comments|
My bench is made from 8/4 german beech with purple heart accents. It is a little larger than most that I researched. It is 30”X84”. The top is 3” thick and it stands 36” (consistent with all the other benches and tool tops in the shop).
The legs and stretchers were built first to allow me to disassemble the existing workbench and use the old bench top on the new frame for constructing the very cumbersome new top. The legs are 4”X3 7/8” and the stretchers are 2”X4”. The stretchers are attached to the leg assemblies with 3/8” bolts. I chose to drill the nut holes first and relied an a shop made drilling guide with an extra long 7/16” bit to drill the bolt hole to intersect exactly in the center of the nut hole. I used standard hex nuts instead of barrel nuts and slightly bent/curved flat washers to fit into the nut holes. It worked perfectly. I also cut very short tenon and mortises to assist in assembly.
I cut the 8/4 into 3 1/8” boards to be laminated for the bench top. I ran them trough the planer on all 4 sides. Then laminated them into 3 sections approximately 9 1/2” wide. This allowed for easier handling at about 75lbs each and , more importantly they could be run through the planer on two sides before assembling final top. The slight curves of the individual pieces is totally eliminated during clamping. I was careful to coordinate grain direction to eliminate tear out on that final planing.
I used an abundance of glue and high quality clamps. I applied a very heavy wax coating to the old bench top that was being used as solid flat surface for gluing the new top. The wax worked great to release the new bench section and to very easily clean the squeeze out mess before doing the next section. Once the 3 sections are together, you’ll need help flipping and maneuvering the top that is now over 200lbs.
Next I cut and routed the bread board ends that match the front apron at 7 1/8”. This width was dictated by the Veritas vises, which use the aprons as back vise jaws. The bread board ends are attached so they ‘float’ to accommodate seasonal wood movement. They are bolted and not glued except for the dovetailed joint connecting them to the front apron.
The half Blind dovetails were made easy by laminating 1/2” of purple heart. And it added a little highlight.
The 3 aprons (none on the back) were thoroughly glued at the dovetails and laminated to the main bench top. It was installed about 1/8” proud of the top to allow final flush trim router bit to match the top. Both, the front and right end aprons must be drilled in tandem with the corresponding front vise jaws.
I used the Veritas Twin Screw for my end vise. It is a great product, but I highly suggest an abundance of planning on its placement and width to make sure you don’t conflict with the dog holes or the stretchers.
A shop built dog hole template was used to drill the dog holes. The number and spacing of dog holes are up for debate, but I decided on 3 across plus 1 on the back edge of the bench top. I spaced them at about 3 inches less than the maximum end vise jaw opening. I wouldn’t worry too much. You can always add more.
The template was predrilled to accommodate a 7/8” router bushing. It then is clamped to align where the set of holes are to be drilled. I used a 3/4” straight bit that plunged a hole about 2 ” deep. the hole is finished to the desired 3” with a 3/4” twist drill bit.
I included dog holes along the back edge of the bench top with a corresponding hole on the end of the end vises back jaw.
I followed Veritas’ suggestion to plane the front vise jaw at a slight bevel that provides contact at the very top edge of the jaws and leave a gap at the bottom. This compensates for the possible ‘sag’ when the vise is fully opened. Look closely at the picture and you will see it.
And of course in 200 years I want people to know who made it!
1. General Finish’s Arm-R-Seal satin—-3 coats
2. Beech is very heavy. 4+ lbs per bf. the top weighs 240lbs…total weight with empty cabinet is 640lbs.
3. Bench top is sitting on 4 1” guide dowels. It is not bolted down.
-- Darrel..."The biggest threat to 'good' is 'better'.