I decided to glue up 6 boards at a time for my bench top instead of 4 like I first planned. Glue-ups aren’t a lot of fun and I want to get it done as quickly as possible while still leaving the glue-ups in clamps overnight. I will have to do this 4 times.
Having fun planing
First I had to plane the top rails down flush to the top of the legs as pictured below, then I got the wood into the shop. Here’s the top rails finished and the wood I picked (fir).
The first thing I had to do before the actual glue-up was to plane each side of every board. This was to get the joints smooth, not to actually joint the lumber.
I got this tip from Paul Sellers watching his bench build videos. He said that the soft wood would pull together fine and that the smoothing was just to ensure good glue contact by removing and bumps or rough spots. So that is what I did using my bench base to hold the pieces.
This worked incredibly well. When I planed the top rails the bench slid a bit on the floor, but this time it didn’t move at all. I did sharpen my plane before I started, and I’m sure that helped. I got wonderful results with my Stanley/Bailey #4 and it was an enjoyable experience. it took me about an hour to do the 12 sides. Here’s the set-up.
I highly recommend to everyone to get into hand planing. I am getting better at it all the time and I find it to be a extremely useful skill. You do have to have sharp planes though for it to be worthwhile and enjoyable.
Not having fun Gluing
After the planing was done I placed some spacers across my bench base and topped it off with a long platter which I then covered with paper to catch dripping glue. I also place some spacers on top of the platter so I could easily get my clamps underneath boards being glued. I didn’t use any cauls.
The boards went together very well with variations of maybe 1/32” on a couple of boards. I thought that was ok, even if it gets to be 1/16”. I got nice even glue squeeze-out along all of the joints. This gave me a feeling of ecstasy. After cleaning up the squeeze-out it looked like this. Please note how the clamps block access the the far end of the boards. That’s where the agony comes in. I had to creep under the clamp ends sticking out to get to the end to clean up the squeeez-out on the far end. Old men should not crawl around on their knees!!
Three more glue-ups like this and then one last glue-up to join the 4 sections together. After that I plan to plug all the knots before planing the top. Then I might paint the base and oil the top, or I might oil the base too, depending how I feel that day.
Thanks for reading!
-- Mike, American in Norway The four steps towards competency: 1. unconscious incompetence, 2. conscious incompetence, 3. conscious competence, 4. unconscious competence