LumberJocks

Flattening Workbench

  • Advertise with us

« back to Focus on the Workspace forum

Forum topic by ynathans posted 02-23-2015 09:13 PM 1333 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ynathans's profile

ynathans

55 posts in 1179 days


02-23-2015 09:13 PM

Hi,

I am in the final stages on a budget roubo workbench build, based on Jord's wooodshop build.

This is my first build of this kind and now I’m starting to think about flattening the top of the workbench (the top is made up of 2×4’s on end) and am considering my options. Some seem to do it with hand planes, but I’ve never been very good with handplanes and, looking at my workbench top, there are some very obvious high spots that have to be flattened so I’m thinking that won’t be a lot of fun.

I found this video
from the wood whisperer

showing a method to flatten the top with a router sled . He demonstrates what seems like a convoluted process using strings (starts at 10:55) strung across the top to figure out when the rails for the sled are parallel. It seems like it would be hard to get this right, and I’m nervous about trying it and ending up with a completely out of whack top.

Has anyone done this before? Is there any margin for error?

Any other comment on the best way to flatten my new workbench?

Thanks guys.

Nathan


15 replies so far

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

624 posts in 1414 days


#1 posted 02-23-2015 09:30 PM

I haven’t seen the video, but I did use a router sled to flatten the hard maple top of the bench I built years ago. A few things to keep in mind. You need to make the whole setup robust enough to ensure that the depth of cut remains constant. You will be taking a large number of passes with the router and one slip means starting over again with a deeper cut. I found that out the hard way when the cheesy collet on my first router (a Craftsman) let the bit slip. Also, you might uncover some defects in the wood as you remove some stock. In my case I found two problems that were not apparent on the original maple and had to install patches in my beautiful (and expensive) bench. You will need to finish the job by planing and or sanding to remove the inevitable ridges left from the routing.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

7172 posts in 2039 days


#2 posted 02-23-2015 09:36 PM

This would be an excellent time to learn how to use and sharpen

hand planes. Sounds like it’s end grain and that’s a good choice IMO.

It’ll also help you with future projects and you’ll be sharpening and

honing the plane blades to a surgical edge.

Good luck now.

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

624 posts in 1414 days


#3 posted 02-23-2015 10:11 PM

Actually, he means “on edge”, not “on end”. The top is a lamination of 2 X 4’s running the length of the bench. No end grain involved, here, but a good job for a plane just the same.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

7172 posts in 2039 days


#4 posted 02-23-2015 10:17 PM

Thanks for clearing that up Kazooman, agreed it’s a good place

to start with hand planes.

View ynathans's profile

ynathans

55 posts in 1179 days


#5 posted 02-23-2015 10:40 PM

Thanks for the advice.
@Kazooman: good point about making sure the setup is robust. The rails (in the wood whisperer video) are 2×6’s with a jointed edge clamped tight to the bench and I’ll make sure the collet is tight.

When you did your bench with the router sled method, did you use the crossing strings method the wood whisperer demonstrated (10:55 in the video I link to above) or did you use another method to make sure the rails were parallel?

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 948 days


#6 posted 02-23-2015 10:53 PM

The string trick isn’t that hard. Hell, I used the same principle to rout the cast iron on my table saw. If you stretch 2 strings from opposite corners, if they aren’t kissing each other, the top has a twist.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

7172 posts in 2039 days


#7 posted 02-23-2015 11:11 PM

Kinda like winding sticks?

View joey502's profile

joey502

487 posts in 980 days


#8 posted 02-23-2015 11:57 PM

I used the exact same method as the video for my out feed table that is an edge grain lamination. The string setup is not difficult and will yield good results.

With that said my first sled was lacking. The bottom and sides were not stout enough for the task. The sled would flex a little when I passed over the middle of it causing my top to have a slight dish in it. Like Kazooman said the sled needs to be robust.

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

624 posts in 1414 days


#9 posted 02-24-2015 02:26 AM

Well, I have to say that building my bench predates the Internet. Never saw anything like it before I used it to level my bench. I actually thought that I had invented the router sled idea! I am certain that there were a thousand articles in how-to woodworking magazines showing how to get the job done. My setup actually had a pair of galvanized pipes as the runners for the router.

As was mentioned above, in a comment to my earlier post, your sled needs to be sturdy enough to handle the task. It cannot sag in the middle or you will get a valley in your bench. That is asking a lot out of the jig. Perhaps this is not the best way to create a level bench surface!

View Troy Cleckler 's profile

Troy Cleckler

384 posts in 833 days


#10 posted 02-24-2015 03:50 AM



This would be an excellent time to learn how to use and sharpen

hand planes. Sounds like it s end grain and that s a good choice IMO.

It ll also help you with future projects and you ll be sharpening and

honing the plane blades to a surgical edge.

Good luck now.

- waho6o9


+1
I agree, now would be a good time to get to know how to sharpen and use hand planes. I’ve recently built a split top Roubo and flattening the top is the first time using a plane. Started me on a whole new deminision of woodworking, incorporating hand tools into my builds.

-- Troy. - Measure twice, cut once and fill the gaps....

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2190 posts in 942 days


#11 posted 02-25-2015 05:56 PM

I followed the technique described in WoodWhisp, except I put spacers so I could route all the way to the end. I used a 1 1/2” flat panel bit. I found the bit left little ridges and I was able to get a better job going back over a second time taking off about 1/32” and no more than 1/2 the width of the bit (about 3/4”).
(I assume this is from the base of the form flexing.)

Be sure to joint the bottom edges of the vertical runners to ensure flat bottom.

Here is the set up: Only thing I would do differently is us a double layer of ply for the cross runners (only because my bench is 35” wide).

Finished bench after sanding and BLS:

PS: I couldn’t IMAGINE doing this by hand on a bench this big so as far as hand planing it was just too time consuming and too much for my back. I took over 1/8” off the total thickness.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

3663 posts in 1727 days


#12 posted 02-25-2015 06:01 PM

rw,

That is a really nice looking bench! I just hope I can do as well when I start mine this spring.

View ynathans's profile

ynathans

55 posts in 1179 days


#13 posted 02-26-2015 07:30 AM

Thanks for all the advice. Excellent idea to double up the ply on the sled, I’ll definitely do that. I agree 100% on the handplaning—my back is no good too and the bench is big so it would take forever.

The taking a second light pass with the router sled is a good idea, but I think it would mean I’d have to do the string method twice, which seems like it would double my likelihood of being out of level?

Also, beautiful bench—it looks like you finished it? What did you use? I’ve seen some say its not a good idea to finish a workbench since it will make the surface slippery for when you are handplaning etc?

Nathan

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2190 posts in 942 days


#14 posted 02-26-2015 03:32 PM



Thanks for all the advice. Excellent idea to double up the ply on the sled, I ll definitely do that. I agree 100% on the handplaning—my back is no good too and the bench is big so it would take forever.

The taking a second light pass with the router sled is a good idea, but I think it would mean I d have to do the string method twice, which seems like it would double my likelihood of being out of level?

Also, beautiful bench—it looks like you finished it? What did you use? I ve seen some say its not a good idea to finish a workbench since it will make the surface slippery for when you are handplaning etc?

Nathan

- ynathans

You shouldn’t need to string it again the guide boards stay set you just lower the bit a little.

I did some handplaning, the front apron (white oak) had some router bit marks that I didn’t like aesthetically.
I also planed the chops on the vises flush to the top.

I sanded it only to 150with an RAS. Don’t make the mistake of using a belt sander!

For finish, simple as can be : a 50/50 mixture of turpentine/BLO.
It is not a slick surface the picture was right after application and its still wet.

Some people actually go over the top with a toothing plane periodically.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View ynathans's profile

ynathans

55 posts in 1179 days


#15 posted 02-27-2015 10:04 AM

Thanks a lot for the input, appreciate it!

Nathan

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com