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Hard/Softwood Stability: Question from Newcomer

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Forum topic by tpmwoodworker posted 02-09-2015 04:16 PM 716 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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tpmwoodworker

19 posts in 667 days


02-09-2015 04:16 PM

Hi Friends,

I’m new to woodworking. But I’ve been on a crash course for the last few months. The last few weeks I’ve been building a woodworking bench. A few wrong turns and course corrections. But I’ve learned a lot. I’ve got the base built. And I’ve laminated a top from Douglas Fir 2×4s. The dimensions are 24 ’’ by 60’’. When I was planing the top I’ve already knocked some chips off the edges. And I’m realizing I want to add hardwood edging along the side – mainly to protect the edges but also to make it look better.

So here’s the question. I can see where attaching a hardwood to a softwood could lead to some problems (mainly because of differing stability, reaction to humidity, etc), especially if you laminate them together. So is what I’m proposing here doable? If so, is there a particular kind of wood that would be best suited? (Obviously I’d like something with a lot of hardness to resist dings and damage and ideally I’d like a dark wood to contrast with the Fir – but the color isn’t a big deal). And does trying to laminate the edging to the top make sense or is bolting or screwing more advisable.

Here is the current state of the project for reference. I still have to cut one side of the top and for now it’s just resting on the base.

Any advice is much appreciated. I’m really glad to join this forum.

-- Newcomer to Woodworking, Looking to Learn More


7 replies so far

View HornedWoodwork's profile

HornedWoodwork

222 posts in 678 days


#1 posted 02-09-2015 08:10 PM

Lots of questions here, I’ll see if I can get you to some answers. Typically speaking as long as you are not creating cross grain joints you should not have many issues with shirinking and swelling along a 4 inch joint. Essentially wood is table along the grain and moves primarily across the grain. You are proposing a with-the-grain lamination across 4 inch surface. The Fir will likely move more than anyhing you put on top of it, but not by enough to be a real issue, unless you are thinking about cocabola, or ebony or something very dense like that. All that said, watch the thickness of the piece you choose. If that hardwood piece is less than 3/8 of an inch you might see some checking on the ends.

A good wood to edge with might be black walnut. It’s durable, will swell and shrink with the fir, finishes beautifully, and will be a nice contrast. It’s expensive, but I think you’re after maybe 2 boards, so it won’t break the bank for that much. Have you thought about vices? Do you know what kind you want and how it mounts to the bench? Attaching the hardwood to the table can certainly be done by lamination and that will probably look the best IMO.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

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bobro

308 posts in 775 days


#2 posted 02-09-2015 09:14 PM

Black walnut is a great idea HornedWoodwork- it should move very much the same as the Douglas fir and present no problem whatsoever plus look awesome. Cherry would be fine too.

-- Lao Ma: You are so full of anger and hatred. Xena: Everybody's gotta be full of something.

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Yonak

979 posts in 985 days


#3 posted 02-09-2015 09:32 PM

Since it’s a workbench and not, necessarily, meant to be a showpiece, I believe I’d go with a very rugged, durable, hard (and less expensive) edging, such as oak (really, any hard wood would work). You can attach it with screws or pegs. Along the ends, if you use screws instead of gluing, the expansion of the fir shouldn’t cause problems and stay in place but, edging on the ends may not be necessary.

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tpmwoodworker

19 posts in 667 days


#4 posted 02-10-2015 03:45 AM

Okay, thanks to each of you for the tips. HornedWoodwork, I want to make sure I’m understanding. Basically the danger I might face is if the Walnet edging is too thin, rather than took thick, correct? I was thinking of like a half inch thickness for the edging. So it sounds like that it should work well.

On vises, yes, I at least want a front vise and I think I’d like to have an end vise as well. My plan was for both, though as I’ve been building I’ve become less certain which kind of end vise I should get or whether I should have one at all. Do you think I should make a decision on that front, which vise to buy etc, before doing the edge laminations?

I’d been looking at the Rockler face and end vises. But if anything has recommendations on that front I’d really appreciate them.

-- Newcomer to Woodworking, Looking to Learn More

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HornedWoodwork

222 posts in 678 days


#5 posted 02-10-2015 07:12 PM

I have the rockler end and front vice, they work well and are very easy to install and use. I would get them again. Yes you read that correctly, BTW, too thin might tend to check more in this instance, 1/2” should be fine. Bobro and Yonak are correct, Cherry and Oak would both work well. You don’t need to have the vice before you complete the edging, but it’s not a bad idea either.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

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tpmwoodworker

19 posts in 667 days


#6 posted 02-11-2015 03:52 PM

Okay, I ordered the Rockler front vice. I think I’m going to get the end vise too. But it’s backordered at the moment. And I think I’ll start with the front vise and see how far that gets me. I’m calling my local lumber yard to see what they have in Walnut. I live in NYC so we live in a tiny apartment and I can only woodwork on the weekends when we go to this little cottage we have out on Long Island where I have a woodshop set up in the garage. I’m trying to decide whether I should make the edging flush with the top or have it be more like an apron that goes below. I’m figuring I probably do the latter on the end where I will probably eventually put the end vise.

-- Newcomer to Woodworking, Looking to Learn More

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tpmwoodworker

19 posts in 667 days


#7 posted 02-18-2015 09:49 PM

Want to thank everyone for the input. I ordered some Walnut 1×4s which I cut to size and have laminated on as discussed. Have done only the three sides so far. Because I’m trying to decide how and whether I want to install and end vise. Thought I’d upload a couple pictures.

My Rockler face vise and s-clips didn’t arrive this weekend. So wasn’t able to finish it up. But that will be for next weekend.

-- Newcomer to Woodworking, Looking to Learn More

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