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Going to start building my workbench and I have a couple questions

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Forum topic by NicholasS posted 916 days ago 1383 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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NicholasS

23 posts in 989 days


916 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: oak question

I wasn’t sure if this should go in the hand tools section but since Im going to build it using hand tools I think it’s the best place to put it. I decided to build a workbench rather than add weight and a new top to an old table I had laying around and will probably use that table as an assembly table or maybe as a sharpening table. I got some very rough cut oak and, using a friends planer, had it cut into boards. The bench top will be close to 3” in thickness, 22” in width (I wanted in to be 24” but wasn’t able to get enough usable wood), and 8’ long. Im still getting some of the wood planed but here is a couple pictures of what I have so far:

My first question is, what kind of glue would be best to use in a project like this? The only glue I have on hand is Titebond III. Is that suitable?

My second question is, what should I use to fill in the holes and knots? I’ve seen putty that can be used to fill in holes in wood but is this strong enough for a bench?

My last question is, what order should I start this project? I’m thinking I need to first get a vise, then layout were I’m going to put the vise and the dog holes, then drill out the dog holes and then glue up the top. Can I glue up the top first and lay everything out and drill the holes later or is that asking for trouble?


9 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4843 posts in 1212 days


#1 posted 916 days ago

http://books.google.com/books/about/Workbenches.html?id=zN-ZBSv2UuIC

Gather as much information as you like and pick a winner, and good luck.

search LJs data base as well.

View yrob's profile

yrob

340 posts in 2287 days


#2 posted 916 days ago

You will want to use a glue with an extended opening time in order to be able to align and clamp your boards perfectly lined up without having to rush. For example tilebond II extend. Buy a gallon.. The easiest way is to do what Chris Schwarz recommends in his workbench book. Glue those boards in groups of 3 or 4 at a time. Then you glue the groups together two at a time after making sure the edges are still true. Its pretty hard to do a perfect glue up with all boards at once.

Filling the holes, you can use epoxy.

It makes sense to build the base first. This way, you can use it to support the top when you are gluing it up.

-- Yves

View crank49's profile

crank49

3380 posts in 1606 days


#3 posted 916 days ago

Looks like you are into a great adventure.

I will second the recommendation to get the workbench book by Chris Schwarz.
A lot of very good information.

I built my top first, on top of saw horses, and used it a lot during the construction of the base.
A big mistake to avoid at this point is to be absolutely sure your glue-up is not twisted.
Once the boards are glued together, if they are not flat straight and true, you have a lot of extra work to fix this avoidable problem.

I used Titebond III to build my bench.
It works fine, but is a little fast.
The Titebond II would give a little more work time at the cost of a little less water resistance once dry.
My bench was going in a basement so I wanted the water resistance and just resolved to work fast.

At some point you will be sanding the top. Save some fine sanding dust, mix it with glue and fill holes with that.
My vises were the last things I installed, after I had the base on and flipped the bench over, rightside up.
Then I drilled the dog holes after the vise was installed.
Some people do cut notches for square dog holes before glue-up of the top, so I gues you could drill round ones on the drill press before glue-up as well.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View jmos's profile

jmos

681 posts in 1004 days


#4 posted 915 days ago

I’m about 80% done my bench build. As others recommended, Schwarz’s books are very good (he has 2 on benches that I know about). He has very definite ideas, but he explains his thinking, so you can decide to agree or not.

I also used Titebond III without problems. If you limit your top glue-ups to three or four boards you shouldn’t have a problem with open time, just don’t dawdle. I highly recommend cauls to keep the boards aligned (top and bottom), my top came out really flat. If your’s doesn’t, you can still joint/power plane the segments before final glue up. If you glue up at one time, you’ll have to have a longer open time glue, and you’ll likely have a lot more hand planing, or need a router setup to flatten the top.

Like Michael, I used two saw benches (Schwarz recommendation) and it worked great; I highly recommend it. Built the top first on the benches. I’m able to easily flip it myself (just keep the weight between the legs). Built the base using the finished dimensions from the top, as I wanted the legs flush front and back.

As for dog holes, if you know for sure where you’ll want them you can drill them before assembly on a drill press. My bench top drill press doesn’t have the stroke to go all the way through my top anyway, so I didn’t bother. I’m planning on using a router and jig to get the holes going, and finish cutting them through with a hand drill.

Have fun!

-- John

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6926 posts in 1549 days


#5 posted 915 days ago

Have you considered building a split bench, such as Bob Lang’s 21st Century Workbench? With 22in of laminate for the top, you could have two ~11in sides with convertible trays running down the middle (that could be turned over for additional WB top real estate. The trays are ~7 1/2in wide and would result in a total bench width/depth of ~29-30in. Here is the one I built. Just a suggestion…

BTW, I used Titebond III though out. It will do fine.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View NicholasS's profile

NicholasS

23 posts in 989 days


#6 posted 915 days ago

Thanks for all the replies everyone, I need all the help I can get. I am a big fan of Christopher Schwarz and have some of his DVD’s on hand planes and benches and will probably get his workbench books at some point. I know I have to have the board lined up really good when i’m gluing them up and I’ll try not to glue up more than three at a time. I think I’ll stick with Titebond III since others have used it with no problem, Ill just make sure to work fast.

HorizontalMike: I have seen split top benches before but never considered do that for my bench. Its a good suggestion and I may have to think about it more since I do see some advantages of having a top like that. I’m thinking though, for my first bench, I might want it to be pretty simple and save stuff like split tops and leg vises and a sliding deadman and all the other neat things I would like to have someday for a future bench when I really know what I want.

View Kenny 's profile

Kenny

260 posts in 1083 days


#7 posted 915 days ago

TB3 all the way baby!

I hate TB2. I find the stuff to be very slippery during glue-ups, and it’s hard to get pieces to stay aligned and apply pressure with TB2, as they just seem to want to slide and not stay aligned.

My suggestion, use TB3 liberally and only glue 2 or 3 pieces at a time. Then after they dry, take these sections and glue them together, only using 2 or 3 sections at a time. If you have a planer, or can use your friends, get it glued up into halves (11” wide) and send it through the planer to even up all the seams, then glue the last two sections together. This way, you only have one glue seam to worry about aligning and flattening afterward when it’s too big to run through the surface planer.

If you plan to ever flatten this bench with a hand-plane, and I mean EVER, do yourself a huge favor and make sure all the grain is running the same way before you start to glue anything. If not, you will have severe tear-out issues as soon as you run a plane over it, as your guaranteed to have at least a few pieces where the grain is running reverse of the rest.
So do yourself a favor and take the time to orient the grain so it’s all going the same way on the top side of the bench, or as close as you can possibly get it.

I made a small oak bench from left-over flooring, and I didn’t think to pay attention to grain direction. It’s useless to even attempt to plane this bench now, it just tears-out like crazy. I had to flatten it with a belt sander, which obviously gave me very poor results.

As one last tip, if you end up with any thin voids or cracks that you want to fill, and epoxy is too thick to flow into them, try thinning the epoxy with acetone. Use an epoxy with a long open time, at least 15 minutes, and thin it with the acetone immediately and use it quickly. The acetone evaporates quickly, so it might speed the cure time a bit. But if you’re ready to go once it’s mixed and you don’t mess around, it works well.

Good luck.

-- Kenny

View Kenny 's profile

Kenny

260 posts in 1083 days


#8 posted 915 days ago

TB3 all the way baby!

I hate TB2. I find the stuff to be very slippery during glue-ups, and it’s hard to get pieces to stay aligned and apply pressure with TB2, as they just seem to want to slide and not stay aligned.

My suggestion, use TB3 liberally and only glue 2 or 3 pieces at a time. Then after they dry, take these sections and glue them together, only using 2 or 3 sections at a time. If you have a planer, or can use your friends, get it glued up into halves (11” wide) and send it through the planer to even up all the seams, then glue the last two sections together. This way, you only have one glue seam to worry about aligning and flattening afterward when it’s too big to run through the surface planer.

If you plan to ever flatten this bench with a hand-plane, and I mean EVER, do yourself a huge favor and make sure all the grain is running the same way before you start to glue anything. If not, you will have severe tear-out issues as soon as you run a plane over it, as your guaranteed to have at least a few pieces where the grain is running reverse of the rest.
So do yourself a favor and take the time to orient the grain so it’s all going the same way on the top side of the bench, or as close as you can possibly get it.

I made a small oak bench from left-over flooring, and I didn’t think to pay attention to grain direction. It’s useless to even attempt to plane this bench now, it just tears-out like crazy. I had to flatten it with a belt sander, which obviously gave me very poor results.

As one last tip, if you end up with any thin voids or cracks that you want to fill, and epoxy is too thick to flow into them, try thinning the epoxy with acetone. Use an epoxy with a long open time, at least 15 minutes, and thin it with the acetone immediately and use it quickly. The acetone evaporates quickly, so it might speed the cure time a bit. But if you’re ready to go once it’s mixed and you don’t mess around, it works well.

Good luck.

-- Kenny

View gerrym526's profile

gerrym526

265 posts in 2443 days


#9 posted 914 days ago

Take a look at my bench in my workshop pics. I built it from hard maple.
No offense to the guys recommending Titebond-it’s great glue-but I used 2 part expoxy with and extended open time hardener. I also think you can use epoxy to fill all cracks and holes-check with the manufacturer-I used West system epoxy.
As far as dog holes, I glued up 1/2 of my bench (ie. 12 inches width) at a time, then layed out and drilled the dog holes. Didn’t lay out my vises until the top was glued up. I used a floor standing drill press, and supported the 1/2 width of the workbench while drilling dog holes with sawhorses tall enough to support the table top halves even with the height of the drill press table. If you’re using 3/4 bench dogs, it will be a heck of a project to drill the dog holes with a hand-held drill-just my opinion. If you don’t have a drill press-I’d go find a cabinet shop and have them drill the dog holes for you.

-- Gerry

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