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Forum topic by TrentO posted 04-07-2015 02:31 AM 2248 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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TrentO

20 posts in 631 days


04-07-2015 02:31 AM

Well I’m new to woodworking and these are going to be some very new embarrassing questions I’m about to ask so bear with me. As I’m new to this I bought some and was bestowed with a few hand planes in order to dimension wood down to size which is more fun then I thought it would be and I can skip the arm days at the gym so that’s a bonus. A few years back I was given a cheap craftsman work bench that served a purpose for a time and still is perfectly find for an assembly area (even with its sagging ends and bulging midsection but since it was free I can’t really complain too much) but as I start the planing process I have to clean it off completely every time otherwise I’ll be picking stuff up off the floor as the bench starts rockin’ and rollin’. The way it bangs against the wall kinda takes away from that satisfying noise of the plane taking that thin, clean shaving not to mention sounding like I’m wrestling a bull to my girlfriend upstairs above my garage. With that being said I am trying to make some adiorondak chairs out of some pine framing material I got behind a local shipping and receiving plant and I need a sturdy workbench that’s cheap and won’t wobble. I noticed that there are an over abundance of free workbench plans for a roubo style bench and it looks like it’d have just about everything any woodworker would need. I’m on a fairly strict budget and will have to add the end vise and a vice for the side at a later time. I’m not attempting the in the bench type wheel vise as my skill set doesn’t allow for such a luxury yet. I figure I can make some simple planing jigs with cleats that hold a piece of wood and hook on the the end of the bench for planing or picking up metal holds for the dog holes as I gather some funds. I’d like it to be about 5’ across and 6’ feet long, I’d like to make it out of 2×6’s but they can be a little pricey and I’m. I’m not totally sure if I’d being 6” thick would have any benefit over using 2×4’s for the top and using 2×6’s for the legs and stretchers. So that being said my simpleton questions are:
1. I hear people say “construction grade lumber” when they talk about making benches and does that mean any 2×4 and 2×6 studs or framing lumber or stuff that’s kiln dried? I know it’s probably common knowledge but I’m just a little confused.
2. Making it to the dimensions mentioned above would the bench be sturdy/heavy enough to plane on without moving around too much?
3. I’m about 6’4” so I’d obviously make the table a bit higher then normal so would that make a difference in the sturdiness and would the bench need to be wider to keep it stable while working?
4. Is there a more effective bench style for hand planes then this one?
5. Can anyone suggest any end vise and side vise models or websites beside woodcraft or rockler I could look at that are cheap but will get the job done and last without any issues? Quick release would be nice but I don’t think I could afford it.
Thanks for any help on any of this in advance and I really appreciate all you lumberjock men and women for all your guidance you’ve given me so far!

P.s. I really wish someone would have warned me about how addicting trying to acquire hand planes could be?? I’ve been to every flea market, garage sale, and auction I find and I’m starting to scare myself a little.


23 replies so far

View Pat3's profile

Pat3

104 posts in 1339 days


#1 posted 04-07-2015 02:45 AM

Sounds like the Naked Woodworker DVD is a good place to start.

http://blog.lostartpress.com/2014/08/18/the-naked-woodworker-now-available/

Good luck.

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shipwright

7162 posts in 2257 days


#2 posted 04-07-2015 03:24 AM

This bench might appeal to you. It is very strong, easy to build and employs very cheap vices.
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/70677

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees. http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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TheFridge

5764 posts in 946 days


#3 posted 04-07-2015 03:34 AM

Yes yes no yes no

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

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1061 posts in 1990 days


#4 posted 04-07-2015 04:10 AM

1) Construction grade lumber is fine. 2×6 thick would generally be considered overkill. But not wrong. Overkill is underrated… As construction lumber often contains the pith (center) of the tree, you may want to buy 2×10s and rip 4” boards off each side, leaving the pith for the burn pile.

2) A 4” thick top of any species of wood (well, except something like balsa) won’t bow under any kind of pressure you are capable of exerting. But the overall sturdiness of the bench is mostly about the construction of the base and how it is attached to the top.

The general opinion on bench sizes is that you cannot have one that is too long. 6’ is certainly fine to work on, but if you have the room, think about making it longer than that.

In the same vein, 5’ deep might be too much unless you are also planning on using it for other purposes. Reaching across 5’ is almost impossible, and sometimes you’ll want to work on a piece from two sides without moving and re-clamping the piece. But if the bench doubles as an assembly table (for instance), 5’ deep makes a lot of sense.

3) No, bench height doesn’t make a difference in the overall sturdiness (within reason).

4) The most effective bench is a) the one you have and b) totally up to personal preferences. The Roubo is certainly a popular style, but there are devout supporters of other common styles (Scandanavian, Holtzapffel, Shaker, etc.) Great work is done on all types.

5) Define cheap. Lee Valley also sells vises in all sorts of price ranges. And don’t discount used – you might be able to find something on EBay or Craigslist. Or even roll your own with an acme thread screw and nut.

There are some good books on workbench design/construction. Chris Schwarz, Lon Schleining and Scott Landis have all written well-regarded books on the subject.

And check out the Work bench smack down thread here on LJ. Not suggesting you should read it from the beginning, but there is a lot of good examples of benches and their details on that thread. And more than a few people willing to answer questions.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

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TrentO

20 posts in 631 days


#5 posted 04-07-2015 06:48 AM

Thank you for the suggestions!! That bench you left a link for is gorgeous! The only thing I don’t understand and this is just my opinion from extremely limited experience is why people want the surface super glossy? I know that it is very pleasing to the eye but wouldn’t it just lend itself to your work pieces sliding or moving? I figured I’d plane the top flat and maybe put a stain on it or a sealer but leave it a little rough so it could help my work piece from moving. Truth be told if I had a work bench like that I’d rather use my kitchen table cause I’d be afraid of harming it.
Mark, I was going to use it for basically everything really. That old bench would basically become a storage bench for my little router table, planes, sander, jigsaw and whatnot. I thought about putting that recessed area in the center to move tools out of the way without losing them which I have an issue with I must admit. But I don’t know if I’d be able to do it. If I did just buy 2×4 stud lumber and used that would there be any way to identify the pith if it were present? Also would it hurt the usage of the bench or would it just be a soft portion of the bench?

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emart

422 posts in 2087 days


#6 posted 04-07-2015 07:23 AM

beware of used vises its a common problem that the tool has been abused. If you decide to buy a used vise look it up and see if it has a good reputation then test it. open the vise as far as it can possibly go and close it again. this will show you if the main screw/supports are bent or if there is too much slop in the vise. if this is the case pass on the vise it isnt worth trying to fix unless you are more knowledgeable on both the brand and fixing it.

as for the rest of your questions
1: construction grade lumber will work just fine and the term applies to any rough 2x_ type wood construction grade is more likely to have knots and twists to and often isnt as dry as furniture grade wood.

2 I would probably make the top about 2 inches thick 4 is a bit overkill honestly.

3 height only depends on your own personal preference there are guides to help you decide how tall to make the bench but i’d just test them myself and see what height i prefer.

4 any style that allows you to get a good grip of the wood will work fine. a common practice is to put holes in the bench top for different clamps or hold fasts

5 it really depends on the vise and how much abuse you will give it I have a $20 vise on my bench for doing small projects and it works just fine. look for a store that sells used tools. there’s a store near me that sells used woodworking vises for about $100

final bit of advice start small on your hand plane collecting you do not want to spend much until you know how much each brand is really worth ome people will try to sell this stuff for way more than they are worth. old stanley bench planes are about as common as rocks and the stanley “handyman” planes arent worth your time unless you need something right this second.

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them https://www.custommade.com/by/emeraldcrafts/

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crank49

3980 posts in 2430 days


#7 posted 04-07-2015 07:38 AM

Look at the end of a board.
If you see a small circle with ever increasing rings around it, that circle is the pith; another word for the center of the tree.
Boards containing the pith tend to warp badly.
The most desirable grain is what is called quarter sawn.
It will be the most stable. Least likely to cup or bow or twist.
It just happens that a 2×10 or 2×12 with the pith in the center has quarter sawn grain on each side of the pith. So if you start with this type of board and cut out the pith you are left with the best wood you can normally find in construction grade lumber.
Do an internet search for quarter sawn, riff sawn, and flat or plain sawn to see examples of the different types of grain orientation and info on the uses of each.

I might add one more suggestion on wood selection. This is just my observation of what’s available here in Tennessee and might not be true in other parts of the country. But, around here 2×8s or 2×6s are usually used for rafters and I find these boards are usually pretty good quality. Contractors don’t want to use crooked rafters because it makes the roof (and their work) look crappy. So I think the box stores reserve the better grades of lumber for these boards. A 2×6 is 5 1/2” wide so when ripped in half will yield a pair of boards 2 11/16” wide. You can plane and sand this and still have over 2 1/2” wide boards. Glued up on edge they make a pretty good bench top.

I personally would never want a bench wider than 30 inches. Actually mine is 90” long and 25” wide and it’s perfect for me. The biggest work table I have heard of anyone building is 4 ft by 8 ft, made from layers of plywood glued together. That would be a huge obstacle in my 16 ft by 24 ft shop. A 48 by 48 assembly table is fairly common, but those are usually quite short, like 18 to 24 inches tall so that a workpiece is at eye level being assembled.

The bench and the novel wedge operated vises in the project by Shipwright is a very elegant and inexpensive way to build a practical bench.

It’s been said already, but it’s worth repeating, the most important part of the bench is the way the base is constructed and attached to the bench top. This is no place for butt joints. Mortise and tennon or at least half lap joints between the stretchers and legs make the most significant contribution to stability.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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TrentO

20 posts in 631 days


#8 posted 04-07-2015 10:00 AM

You guys are great!!!!! I honestly can’t say thank you enough I’ve watched what seems like 100’s of YouTube videos, read a bunch of articles, and bought quite a few books on certain woodworking techniques like joints and planing and I’d say I could have just asked this kind of question months ago. I was going to attempt my hand as thru tenon and mortises for almost all the joints that I could. I’d like to keep mechanical fasteners to the bar minimum and only hidden if I can. id also like to make the leg even with the outside of the table with a, I believe someone called it a half dovetail thru mortise and tenon. I’ve been practicing my jointery and believe I can do this and want to test my skills as well. Like a personal challenge. If lets say a 2×4 board or boards for that matter containing pith were glued up would the top still want to twist or do they tend to twist and bow when just left out to dry?

View codemonkeyww's profile

codemonkeyww

40 posts in 886 days


#9 posted 04-07-2015 10:52 AM

I myself am just starting out in woodworking. I made my self a really crappy bench. But just recently went out and spent about $75 at the big box store buying 2×4’s to build the Paul Sellers European style workbench. I would really like to build a Roubo Workbench.

But first need to perfect the craft before I buy $500 worth of hard lumber and screw it up! ;)

Check out the Paul Sellers workbench on youtube to get a good idea.

As for hand planes I just bought a No 4 and No 5 off of eBay cleaned them up and bought new Hock blades and chip breakers sharpened them up and they work great!

-- "Cause I know that time has numbered my days" -Mumford

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benchbuilder

265 posts in 1910 days


#10 posted 04-07-2015 10:58 AM

I think the guys sumed it up, i do disagree with the burning of any wood. Theres always a use for scrap, some of my best projects have come from scrap. But i save everything. Not trashy, just hate to see things wasted.. Just think about what you want to build and may build and build your bench from that. No dumm questions here, so ask all you want!!! Good luck…

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TrentO

20 posts in 631 days


#11 posted 04-07-2015 12:27 PM

Codemonkey I’ve watched that video countless times and I always find it crazy when people of his caliber whether it’s making a bench or anything for that matter run into a problem that I’d normally freak out and think about how everything is ruined and they just fix it without skipping a beat and make everything look effortless. They think of what they want in their mind and find the simplest jig that fits what they’re doing perfect where as I always think of the most complex thing to solve my problem. My girlfriend’s uncle found out I was starting wood working and said he “had some stuff in his barn from his father I could have if I wanted it”. So we drove the 2 hours over for lunch one day and he let me into in barn. In an old wooden dresser was two hand drills, countless bits, over 30 chisels, a stanley Bailey #4, #5, #7, #45, and #78. I’d like to say that I didn’t scream like a little girl but if I did I’d be lying. Albeit they’d been in there for over 20 years and needed a good cleaning and I’m going to get new blades when I can afford it but that’s what’s really lit the fire under me. I feel the same way about buying expensive lumber and jacking it up so I’ve been practicing on the framing lumber I’ve been getting for free but I think with everyones guidance I’m going to just bit the bullet and get some 2×4’s and give it a try. Nowhere near expensive really but my orange store is having a sale on them next week I believe for 1.99 each so maybe I’ll post a few pictures of my progression.

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2187 posts in 940 days


#12 posted 04-07-2015 12:28 PM


Well I m new to woodworking and these are going to be some very new embarrassing questions I m about to ask so bear with me.
Welcome. That’s the only way to learn.

A few years back I was given a cheap craftsman work bench that served a purpose for a time and still is perfectly find for an assembly area (even with its sagging ends and bulging midsection but since it was free I can t really complain too much) but as I start the planing process I have to clean it off completely every time otherwise I ll be picking stuff up off the floor as the bench starts rockin and rollin .
1. If you’re milling by hand you need a dead flat surface to work on. I wouldn’t use it for an assembly table either or you’ll have some regretful glue-ups. Use that old Craftsman bench for anything besides this!

I noticed that there are an over abundance of free workbench plans for a roubo style bench
Yes it seems to be all the rage these days. I like the ones with a split top. I encourage you to look at other styles.

I figure I can make some simple planing jigs with cleats that hold a piece of wood and hook on the the end of the bench for planing or picking up metal holds for the dog holes as I gather some funds.
Good thinking.

I d like it to be about 5 across and 6 feet long
Pretty wide, especially if its going against a wall. I think 3 wide by 7 or even 8 long would be better.

I d like to make it out of 2×6 s but they can be a little pricey and I m. I m not totally sure if I d being 6” thick would have any benefit over using 2×4 s for the top and using 2×6 s for the legs and stretchers.
SYP 2X4’s milled down to 3 inches thick can make a good economical top.

1. I hear people say “construction grade lumber” when they talk about making benches and does that mean any 2×4 and 2×6 studs or framing lumber or stuff that s kiln dried? I know it s probably common knowledge but I m just a little confused.
See above. Just make sure the boards are straight obviously.

2. Making it to the dimensions mentioned above would the bench be sturdy/heavy enough to plane on without moving around too much?
This is why the base is so important. Built it heavy and built it stout and you won’t get any racking. 4X4’s minimum, 6X6’s better. Use 2×6’s for stretchers.

3. I m about 6 4” so I d obviously make the table a bit higher then normal so would that make a difference in the sturdiness and would the bench need to be wider to keep it stable while working?
Not if the base is constructed as above.

4. Is there a more effective bench style for hand planes then this one?
There are several ways of holding work, but as mentioned, the 2 most important are: flat top and sturdy base.

5. Can anyone suggest any end vise and side vise models or websites beside woodcraft or rockler I could look at that are cheap but will get the job done and last without any issues? Quick release would be nice but I don t think I could afford it.
I bought this Jorgensen through Amazon and my end vice from Rockler. Both are quick release.

Thanks for any help on any of this in advance and I really appreciate all you lumberjock men and women for all your guidance you ve given me so far!
My most strenuous suggestion to you is get hold of either Scott Landis or Chris Schwarz’s books on workbenches. Look at the different styles. Personally, I’ve always leaned toward Frank Klausz’s shoulder vice bench. I made mine from a section of recycled SYP bowling alley

P.s. I really wish someone would have warned me about how addicting trying to acquire hand planes could be?? I ve been to every flea market, garage sale, and auction I find and I m starting to scare myself a little.
I will be a little controversial here and caution you about this. For the price of about 5 flea market planes (3 of which you’ll be lucky are worth a darn) you can get a Wood River #4 smoother. Before you get too far down the road with the old planes, get your hands on a decent modern plane and see what it can do so you have a reference. I started out like this and ended up with 8 or 9 planes, but only used 2 of them. After getting a WR #6 I realized I didn’t know what a good plane and thick plane iron could do. Now I only buy new.

My advice to those starting out is don’t sell your skills short by buying cheap tools. First of all, you will be frustrated because our tendency is to blame ourselves, not a malfunctioning tool. Second, when you do get into restoration, you need to know what to compare to understand how a plane should work. Third, you need to learn how to properly hone a blade.

Good luck.

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

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1829 days


#13 posted 04-07-2015 12:48 PM

I just finished my bench (hopefully will get pictures this weekend). I made it out of Douglas Fir from Home Depot. I would most definitely suggest you skip the 2×4’s. You’re not likely to find any quartersawn board in there, and you’re not likely to find many that have pith running straight down one edge that can be cut off and still yield a usable width. I went with 2×10’s and ripped them into strip just over 2”, and turned them on edge. I picked my boards carefully, and although some are not quartersawn as much as others, I only ended up tossing 3 strips because they turned into bananas after I ripped them. I glued them up 4 at a time, so I could run them through my 12” planer.

After the final glue-up, I flattened the top with a #5 and a #4 (wish I had a #7, but nope). My top ended up at 1 15/16” thick. I glued on a front apron that was 4” thick. This will allow me to clamp to the front if needed, and also gives it a bit beefier, look which is nice. I drilled the dog holes with a brace and bit, with a backer board clamped underneath to avoid blowing out the underside. A lot of people opt for a hand drill with a guide, or a router, but I found the brace with a sharp bit, with a combination square as a guide, to work very quickly. I think it took me about a half hour to drill all of the holes for the front and the vise, and it drilled faster than the forstner and spade bit I did on scrap. I chamfered the edges of the holes with a bearing-guided bit in a trim router. My bench dogs and holdfasts work fine.

I used this vise and so far, I’ve been pleased. I don’t remember where exactly I ordered it from, some places are out of stock on it, some are not. I plan on getting some Veritas Wonder Dogs eventually (I did not do an end vise).

Edit : Also plan on buying a gallon of glue and making a mess. For the top, I think I used just under 1/2 gallon of Titebond II. And, after I was done, I I spent about 20 minutes chiseling dried glue off my garage floor with an old screwdriver because I was too stupid to put anything down to protect it.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View TrentO's profile

TrentO

20 posts in 631 days


#14 posted 04-07-2015 12:49 PM

Robert first off let me say that bench is beautiful!! Those big single dovetails on the sides are perfect. I guess I should have stated in my first message that I have looked into a few other styles of benches but there are just more free plans for the roubo style and it just keeps drawing me back. I know it seems like everyone is building them but I can’t help but like the look and style of it. I just didn’t know or couldn’t find any benches that were dedicated to hand planing and if there were I was hoping someone could point me in that direction. I also should have said that my “shop” is in my two car garage. My girlfriend uses the one side and I use the other to make saw dust (secretly I’m hoping that if I get enough dust on her car she’ll eventually get fed up and buy me a dust collection system and no it hasn’t worked yet but she under estimated my persistence). My old craftsman is against the wall and I’d like to keep it there and put the new bench across from it in the space between where the cars would be parked so I’d be able to access it from both sides even with a car on her side but there is a large support pole holding up the I-beam going down the center which somewhat limits the length.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1140 days


#15 posted 04-07-2015 01:00 PM

1. You can make a bench out of any construction lumber but if you seek out a building supply yard you might be better served than buying your lumber at a big box store. The yard I went to had two different grades of 2 by and 4 by material and the better grade was much cleaner for only a few dollars a board more. A few knots in your bench won’t hurt anything even if they are in your top other than to make flattening a pain but if your going to spend the time and energy making the bench find the best lumber you can in your price range to build it. At least around here I tend to avoid buying lumber at the big box stores anymore as the quality difference between it and a good yard is huge for very little price difference.

2. 3 1/2” for a top is very thick and will be pretty heavy on it’s own. I wouldn’t go much thicker than about 4” myself. I don’t like 2 by material for legs unless you glue 2 or even 3 of them together to make a thicker leg. The problem with 2 by material is I have found it’s really hard to make it rock solid and it will flex and twist under pressure. If you glue 2 or 3 2 X 4’s together for the legs you will have a much sturdier bench overall IMO that will be rock solid. Another option is what did and get 4X6’s. My current bench is 4 8’ 4X6’s and 2 10’ 2X6’s. I cut the legs off the 4X6’s and used what was left for the top making a roughly 5’ long by 21” wide by 3 1/2” thick top. I used the 2X6’s for the stretchers. It’s not a pretty bench but’s it’s heavy and rock solid. I complicated it some by splaying the legs out following the basic design for the Moravian workbench blogged by Will Myers. I built it as a temporary bench but it’s serving me well.

3. At 6’ 4” you probably want to start around table saw height or maybe a bit lower and work from there. Bench height is a very personal thing so it’s hard to say where you will fall but I’m 6’ 2” and I have settled a little bit below the height of my table saw. I took some advise I learned on the Internet and used saw horses to play around with different heights until I found one that felt good before building the bench.

4. A good bench in my opinion is one that has a solid top that you don’t have to follow around the workshop as you work (doesn’t move on you) and can hold the board in a manner that exposes the 3 different faces of it (edge, end and flat face) securely as you work on it. After that everything else is bells and whistles.

5. I tend to remember Lee Valley having some cheaper none Veritas vise models as well but I think they are inline with what WoodCraft offers. I put a Wood Craft vise on for my front vise and have been living without a end vise for now. Between holddowns and a planning stop a end vise isn’t as needed as a good front vise. There are also examples on this site of people using pipe clamps to good effect for vises which is a great option as well.

Good luck and happy bench building.

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