cons of 2 boards to create width for workbench top

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Forum topic by willhime posted 06-02-2014 04:13 PM 1222 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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107 posts in 1536 days

06-02-2014 04:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench edge grain walnut mahogany maple first table

I’m breaking down and making my first woodworking bench. I would like to at extreme minimum to have the top 2.5” thick. Ideally I’d like 3+, but as I’m learning while searching high and low through my stock and trying to make compromises based on what I have, this is getting more and more drawn out, and, expensive. The problem is that I don’t have a time limit, which caters well to my procrastinating nature. I have about, I don’t know, probably over 500 boards in my arsenal. They’re all great wood- walnut, mahogany, maple, curly maple, white and red oak, poplar, etc. By sheer luck I found a mass production furniture company and right before they were about to haul off all their ‘extra’, ‘scrap’, or ‘whatever else didn’t work for them’ product, I offered to come by with my trailer and load some up. 3 bundles later, all about 4-5 ft in diameter, I have a ton of beautiful hardwood, 99% of it no wider than 2.5”. So these are my thoughts on a bench top:

1. Find every piece I can over 3” and purchase the rest from a box store, reluctantly.
2. make 3 different layers of edge grain tops. All about 1-1.5” thick and glue/screw together.
3. hopefully this doesn’t come across as too stupid, but forgive me, I have no formal training other than professor you tube- when I want to add some walnut and mahogany segments, join and plane 2 different boards to the same thickness/width, glue and pocket hole together like they were one 3” board and proceed like no one caught me doing that…

So any advice or input with this would be awesome and much appreciated.

-- Burn your fire for no witness

8 replies so far

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2180 days

#1 posted 06-02-2014 05:55 PM

My feeling is that you should be able to work with what you have right now without buying any more lumber, but you don’t need anything more than glue. If you have a jointer and a planer, you should be able to work like this:
  1. Pull out all the straightest grained 2.5” wide boards.
  2. If you have straight 1” boards, pull those out.
  3. If you don’t, rip some 2.5” boards in half.
  4. Joint and plane the boards so they’re the same thickness.
  5. Glue a 2.5” and a 1” or 1.25” board together to make a 3.5-3.75” board.
  6. Joint and plane these boards so they’re the same thickness.
  7. Glue up your top with the 3.5-3.75” boards.

You don’t need pocket screws or anything to do this. Just glue, some clamps, and your jointer & planer. It’d be smart to glue up segments of the top less than the width of your planer to flatten them before doing the final glue up. That is, if you have a 12” planer, make a couple segments less than 12” wide, run them through the planer, and then glue up the segments.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View JayT's profile (online now)


5626 posts in 2208 days

#2 posted 06-02-2014 06:17 PM

Definitely no reason to buy more lumber. (nice score, BTW)

Shamp’s idea is what I would do—the glue joint is stronger than the wood. It’s a bit of work, but better than spending $$$ for more lumber when you have plenty. If you have one wider board, save it for the front edge, otherwise use whatever one camouflages the glue joint best. (If you take a look at my projects, the face board on my bench is two pieces of 6/4 square ash laminated together—and no one would ever guess if I didn’t tell them)

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View willhime's profile


107 posts in 1536 days

#3 posted 06-03-2014 11:29 PM

Ok, thanks for the replies. I’ll do the glue up technique My only hiccup is I don’t have a jointer, just a 12” delta planer, so I guess I’ll try to rip the edges of the 2 edge grains to put together. I have 4 hand planes I was gonna attempt to use for jointing but my skill level doesn’t exactly lend to flat joining, usually comes out with one side 20 degrees diagonally off and such. I like the hardwoods, but I’ve been working on a pine surface that’s nice and forgiving. I guess I’ll get used to working on maple and walnut?

-- Burn your fire for no witness

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2180 days

#4 posted 06-04-2014 12:17 AM

Get a piece of scrap plywood, and rip one edge with the other against the fence of your table saw. Now you can use that plywood piece as a sled to joint an edge with your table saw by clamping the pieces against it (your choice on how you do that).

But yeah, no time like the present to learn about hand planes. Walnut planes like a dream. Maple isn’t too bad either. Learn about grain direction and make sure you know how to keep your plane irons sharp, and you’ll be a journeyman hand tool guy in no time. Buy a square, and take a 20 minutes to make some winding sticks from the straightest quarter-sawn pieces from your stash. Then you can joint each board 90 degrees before running it through the planer, and finish off the square on your table saw.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1866 days

#5 posted 06-04-2014 12:36 AM

This is exciting!

Will… You’re getting very solid tips here. Fear not. Proceed.

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

View willhime's profile


107 posts in 1536 days

#6 posted 06-07-2014 07:44 AM

one thing I’ve been wondering about with table tops or bench tops is how you keep all the boards even laterally. I’ve seen the videos of Paul Sellers and many others that just throw a bunch of clamps on, but don’t really address the issue of keeping all the boards at the same height during glue up other than just knocking them around with a fist or a hammer. I’m making some homemade horizontal clamps because on my first section after it dried, one of the boards had somehow drifted below the top plane and so I lost about 1/2”. Is there a better way or method? or do most people not worry about this?

-- Burn your fire for no witness

View HerbC's profile


1755 posts in 2856 days

#7 posted 06-07-2014 08:11 AM

Make and use cauls to keep the boards even horizontally during the glueup.


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7757 posts in 2911 days

#8 posted 06-07-2014 12:13 PM

FWIW, I actually ran my ~2-7/8in thick X 12in wide X 7-1/2ft long bench-top halves through my lunchbox planer after my glue-up. This took care of any out of parallel boards in the layup. I really had to “help” these monsters through the planer because of the friction/weight, but they came out great.

I agree with those above, though they didn’t quite explain as clearly how what to do, IMO. Basically you cut your boards to a uniform width with your TS, say 2-1/4in to 2-1/2in (though 2in would be more than enough IMO). They can be various thicknesses (mine were) as that part is NOT important. Then turn all your boards vertically on edge for your glue-up. Once you have them glued up to width, something less than the 13in capacity of your lunchbox planer, you then glue up a similar set (or two sets) to get the/your final desired width. Measure each set and feel free to trim one with your TS if you need to, in order to get to your final width for the top after they are glued together.

Before gluing the laminated sets (2 or 3 sets) together, you will need to run EACH of them all through the planer separately to get matching thicknesses. That last glue-up will then be a piece of cake to match up, and any flaws in that lineup can be handled with a #6, #7, or #8 plane and a sander. Just my 2¢...

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

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