|Project by TheDane||posted 06-21-2009 10:48 PM||31113 views||130 times favorited||58 comments|
Finally got tired to trying to use folding tables, saw horses, etc. to plane lumber and cut dovetails, so I built a workbench.
This bench is 65” long, 22.5” wide, and 35” high (some would say too high, but just about right for my back!). The top is 3.5” thick. The trestles in the base are mortise & tenon (draw-bored and pinned with 3/8” oak dowels). I have a really small shop, so the whole thing rides in a mobile base (Jet 1200 lb). There are two T-tracks … one in the left end (for an adjustable planing stop), the other along the back for a planned tool holder and worklight. The shelf below will eventually house a tool chest with drawers for handtools, planes, measuring & marking, etc.
This bench was designed to be disassembled. The stretchers between the end trestles are bolted in with bench bolts and brass cylinder nuts. The top (and vises) are mounted with carriage bolts. The carriage bolts are mounted in 1-inch deep holes in the top, using torque washers to reduce the chances of the shoulder of the carriage bolts from turning in the wood. I routed patterns (diamonds, squares, and bowties) in the top, and installed Dutchmen that were planed/sanded flush to the top. The Dutchmen and dog holes were created with a hardboard template.
Originally, I had planned on just using lag screws to fasten the top to the trestles and mount the vises, but ruled that out. I have sort of an aversion to using lag screws in soft lumber, and this bench is built entirely of Douglas Fir.
Early on, I made the decision to go with kiln-dried Douglas Fir. The logic was that I was building something to pound on, not a museum piece. The bench top has 35 board feet of lumber in it, and I have less than $70 invested in lumber for this project. Hard maple (my preferred choice) would have been several times that.
The base was stained with Danish Oil that had been sitting around for a couple of years, then coated with two coats of poly.
The top and vise jaws were finished with a turpentine / bee’s wax / boiled linseed oil concoction. I am very pleased with the results, and it is a relatively inexpensive ‘finish’ that is easy to apply and should be easy to maintain. The recipe: 16 oz Gum Turpentine 2 oz shaved/grated Bee’s Wax (dissolve Bee’s Wax completely in turpentine) 16 oz Boiled Linseed Oil. Apply liberally, let sit for two hours, then wipe off excess Let ‘cure’ for a few days, then buff.
The front vise is a Groz (9” fast release) from Rockler. I mortised both the front edge of the bench and the jaw to bury the vise … that way, I can clamp larger pieces to the right leg (legs are flush with the edge of the top. The end vise is a 7” Groz (from WoodCraft).
I didn’t keep track of the hours I put in on this project, but out-of-pocket costs for lumber, hardware, and finish is about $375.00
Update 20 Sep 12 … FAQ:
There are several questions I get frequently …
Q: How has the douglas fir worked out, has it stayed flat and not warped?
A: Yes it has stayed flat … no sign of any warping or twisting. The top is 3 1/2” thick, comprised of laminated, milled timbers (face grain to face grain). After three+ years of use, I woulld say it ain’t going anywhere!
Q: It hasn’t splintered or dented bad?
A: Douglas Fir is a conifer, and thus is softer than domestic hardwoods, so it is more susceptible to denting. If you drop something heavy on it, it will dent. On the flipside, repairs are easy … just route out damaged spot, glue in a dutchman, sand, and finish (I have only had to make one repair).
Q: When you built it did you use 2×4’s or rip out of larger boards?
A: I bought 12 foot long 2×12’s, ripped them to a little over 3 1/2”, jointed one edge and one face, then planed them to 1 1/4”. I laminated 4 sections (4 or 5 boards to a section), then laminated one 4 board section and one 5 board section. This was done so I could run them through my planer to get a final thickness of 3 1/2”. Then I laminated the two big sections, using a set of cauls to keep them aligned. All of the lamination work was done with Titebond III.
Q: How long did you let it dry before gluing it up and planing it?
A: The lumber was kiln-dried from mill … moisture content was around 11%, so it only sat in the garage for a day or two before I started milling/laminating it.
-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"