terryR's Bench Blog #4: The Finish

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Blog entry by terryR posted 08-11-2013 07:36 PM 3764 reads 3 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Putting the Pieces Together Part 4 of terryR's Bench Blog series no next part

Welcome back, everyone, I can’t believe it’s been 5 months since the last blog update! But, you know how life can be at times…

The good news is…the Bench is complete! Let’s see if I can share photos from the last phase of the build…

With the tool well secured via glue and wood screws, it was now time to flatten the top. I had been apprehensive about this step, but all the bench-building books I read made it sound fairly straight forward.

I started with my shop made straight edge, and marked everywhere a 1/16” depth gauge would slide underneath. Then, connected these lines with orange pencil…and could see I had a slight bowl dished out in the center of the top. So, I used my Stanley No.4 to remove wood OUTSIDE of these lines. I kept repeating the marking and wood removal process about 3 more times while watching my bowl become smaller.
Next, the big honking No.7. Biggest hand plane I own. Time for the real work…

Pushing this No.7 around really got me to sweating! But, it was easy to watch as the bench top was slowly becoming flat. Very cool.

And, just like the books said, when I started to get full width, full length shavings, I was done!

Awesome! And it only took a small-framed guy like me about 1.5 hours. If you are about to build your own bench, please don’t be afraid to flatten it by hand. Yeah, my shoulders were sore the next day, but it was a good kinda soreness that comes from focused effort. And, I just couldn’t stop caressing the perfectly flat top. Even though it was just pine…

At this point, I needed a few instant gratification projects…so finally turned myself a marking knife handle to hold a Pfeil blade I had already purchased. The wood is Ziricote, and is so black it’s difficult to photograph, brass ferrule from LV.

Then, I turned a few knobs and carved a few totes for fellow LJ buddies from walnut…

Then a handful of Stanley 110 reproduction knobs…

Then an endgrain cutting board from bench cut offs, and a few spoons made entirely with hand tools…

OK, back to the Bench Build…time to add a leg vise. Yes, I said leg vise. I know this is NOT part of Paul Sellers’ bench…but after hanging with the Workbench Smackdown guys, I wanted a leg vise.
First, I laminated some 8/4 Hard Maple to 3/4” of Red Oak to obtain a massive chop. I was hoping to score a big chunk of oak for the chop, but…next time…Squaring the block with my favorite Jack…

Then, a quick trip to the Grizzly bandsaw to rough out my shape. (Notice the date 2013 written in pencil on the chop…I had thoughts of carving the date just like The Schwarz, but chickened out!)

A little clean up with the No.4 to refine the shape.

This was also about the time the famous Marking Gauge Swap was in progress, so I used one of my prototypes made from cherry to mark the shape on my chop.

After the mark, I used chisels to quickly remove extra wood, then a nice Auriou rasp for further shaping to the line. I guess I have a thing for fine rasps…

Same procedure for the opposite side, then the top as well.

To help the leg vise open and close smoothly, I chose to install wheel assemblies above and below the parallel guide, just like most folks these days. Sorry, but no photos of the parallel guide under assembly. However, there is so little space under my lower leg stretchers, I chose to make the guide only 2.5” tall to give more clearance. I also shaped it 1” thick to give more strength when really squeezing hard with the vise.
Here’s a shot of me chiseling out waste on one of the wood assemblies that house the high-tech StarBoard wheels I got from a fellow LJ..

And a finished shot of both wheel assemblies posing on top of the sexy, rounded chop…

From here, it was a simple matter to mortise out the backside of the chop to allow the parallel guide to fit. I chose to NOT use a through tenon, which would be immensely easier to form, because I wanted the front of my chop clean and smooth.

I used my best square to help assure glue up wasn’t going to be a problem, a One Way Multi-Gauge. Worked great!

Actually installing the vise was so much easier than I anticipated! Once the parallel guide was inserted into its proper space, I clamped the chop plumb, and drilled a couple of holes. Adjusting the high-tech wheels took a few minutes, but soon I had the most powerful vise I had ever touched working right in front of me! Yee haw! (Oh yeah, I had to turn a handle with knobs for each end since the vise didn’t come with one for $40, no big deal. I chose Ash and Walnut to compliment the bench)

And I simply love the steel pin hand forged by SuperDave to adjust the parallel guide. This photo doesn’t give the tool the attention it deserves. Thanks, Dave!

From this point, all I really needed was some dog holes, and cool bench goodies. So, I got out my favorite boring partner…

…which is a Forstner bit on a long extension. Lucky for me, the diameter of the extension is 3/4” and it spun nicely in dog holes after a few seconds of modding at the grinding wheel to lower the hex nuts a bit. Here is my hole drilling jig…I never could get the hang of using two squares simultaneously.

Drilling the dog holes for the top was pretty easy, but the front apron was a challenge! First two holes were bored using the leg vise to hole the jig…

Then, I was able to use a fancy Veritas clamp to continue my way across the apron. Love the Veritas holding power…hate trying to remove it from dog holes. It has some serious teeth along its long shaft!

After adding a bench light, a few tools to the tool well, and some hold downs in the dog holes…I think it’s done…

Since this photo, I’ve covered the bench with Natural Danish Oil, which really brought out the yellow in this Southern Yellow Pine. Yuck! My solution? Add another coat of oil, wait 24 hours, cover the bench top with walnut sawdust, and rub until your hands are sore. Repeat.

Honestly, the color doesn’t concern me at this point. I have a place to actually use hand planes like never before. And hand saws, and spoke shaves, and chisels…That is what I needed! A bench with Condor tails and exotic woods would certainly put mine to shame in the looks department! But, this Plain Jane bench will help me learn the use of hand tools more quickly, and I’m sure it will get along with the next one.

Final dimensions: 30×60” top which is 3” thick (tool well takes up 8 of those inches), aprons are 2×13”, legs are 5.25” square, bench height is 36”, leg vise only opens to 8.5”. I wish I had kept up with the total cost of lumber better, but I lost count of Borg 2×10’s which made up the bulk of the bench.

A few more photos…
flattening an apron…

vise handle, parallel guide, and one wheel assembly…

Veritas bench blades…pretty handy…

Vise handle knobs from walnut…one attaches with countersunk set screw…

And the required ‘Bondo pose’…

Thanks for reading along…I had no idea this bench would take so long, but I have many excuses.
Comments and suggestions are always welcomed…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

19 comments so far

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8517 posts in 2006 days

#1 posted 08-11-2013 07:45 PM

Thanks for sharing your bench journey Terry. Your one of my fav LJs for sure. Always a kind word….not to mention your gift for handwork. Keep it up brother.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View theoldfart's profile


9740 posts in 2475 days

#2 posted 08-11-2013 07:49 PM

Terry, outdid yourself young man! How about a little more info on the vise guide wheels? The vise handle is exceptional, may have to talk to you. Your going to have a great time with this bench. Is the Bondo pose beer enabled? I figure a couple of lemoncello’s ought to do it for me.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3569 posts in 2275 days

#3 posted 08-11-2013 07:55 PM

@terryR—Sa-weet! That pile of gossamer shavings is impressive! Your bench turned out really nice with lots of personal touches. You should rethink carving the date in the leg vise—that’d be another nice touch.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Tugboater78's profile


2746 posts in 2216 days

#4 posted 08-11-2013 08:02 PM

Nice writeup, glad it’s a done deal for you, I am a long way from getting to the same place. Gotta love the bondopose!

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View terryR's profile


7168 posts in 2332 days

#5 posted 08-11-2013 08:06 PM

Thanks, guys!

Kevin, I thought your leg vise was already figured out? I got my fancy wheels from Jim, Boatman53,he does a lot of repairs with the material. He set me up with two wheels custom sized, and axles!

Nah, no ETOH for the Bondo pose…I wanna make it mandatory for all new benches here! :)

DonB, I’m sorta leaning that way about the carved date. Right now, it would just be kinda cool, but in 5 years, and in 45 years…Wow!

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2591 days

#6 posted 08-11-2013 08:07 PM

There’s nothing there not to like. A great bench. A great blog, and a bondo pose to boot. I figured you’d put an embedded arrow head in the leg vice, but I love what you did with the oak.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View chrisstef's profile


17423 posts in 3030 days

#7 posted 08-11-2013 08:21 PM

Hell of a good job on all fronts Terry. The bench came out killer and will only add to your abilities.

Glad to see that ya busted out the Alabama wedding garb for the bondo pic too!

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Brit's profile


7385 posts in 2867 days

#8 posted 08-11-2013 08:32 PM

What a wonderful read Terry and what a gorgeous bench. You sure have some talent and a great eye for detail. Your turning is second to none too. It might have been a long time in the making Terry, but it’s done now and I for one am looking forward to seeing what comes off that bench in the future.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View terryR's profile


7168 posts in 2332 days

#9 posted 08-11-2013 09:02 PM

Wow, you guys like my blogs? They seem impossibly difficult to write! :) This took all day…

Stef, I really DID get married in that shirt. LOL

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Mosquito's profile


9352 posts in 2316 days

#10 posted 08-11-2013 09:11 PM

Awesome work. I like the easy built in deadman of sorts of these English style benches

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View theoldfart's profile


9740 posts in 2475 days

#11 posted 08-11-2013 09:28 PM

Yea Terry, the screw did not work out;{ THe guy took my payment and haven’t heard from him since. Contacted PayPal to set up a dispute. All I’m looking for is either a screw ( maybe thats what I got!) or a refund. Soon as its settled I’ll get a hold of Lake Erie and order another.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1893 days

#12 posted 08-11-2013 09:57 PM

Great job on the bench. The blog is very well done also. Lots of pictures, and now I see how I’ll go about shaping the chop for my leg vise. I was concerned about not having a bandsaw, but a jigsaw will suffice along with some hand tools and elbow grease.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View palaswood's profile


1006 posts in 1775 days

#13 posted 08-12-2013 12:43 AM

I’m totally stoked for you terry. the bench turned out gorgeous. I’m curious what the walnut sawdust did for the color of your bench. I’m sitting on a pile of pine and I’ve been holding off on building my paul sellers bench due to the work involved, but your wonderfully written blog (love how you nonchalantly mention the turning of the gorgeous knobs and such, no big deal lol) has reinspired me to finally begin! I’m new here, and I feel right at home..

-- Joseph, Irvine CA, @palas_woodcraft on Instagram

View widdle's profile


2069 posts in 3023 days

#14 posted 08-12-2013 01:27 AM

Fantastic..All of it..Well done..

View AnthonyReed's profile


9755 posts in 2464 days

#15 posted 08-12-2013 02:59 PM

Spectacular blog Terry. Wonderful photos and great details that are often omitted in other write ups. Thank you very much for taking the time to bring us along with you in your build.

The bench came out wonderfully. Your work is superb in every facet Terry.

Interesting that Stef (rainman) was able to hone in on the wedding attire….

-- ~Tony

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