Decided to totally re-vamp the garage into a full on woodworking shop. Have misc. crap cluttering the place up, including a bunch of “almost” worthless wood. So, in the interest of clearing some space & finally starting to build my first real workbench, I decided to start with a nice thick top.
The wood – I acquired a bunch of rough lenga (a hardwood from Chile that resembles Cherry) that is a hair over 1/2” thick. It came from some 6/4 material that was re-sawn down to 4/4. I ended up with the “2/4”. Problem was, it immediately started cupping and bowing all over the place. Hung out in my garage for a couple years & didn’t get any better…
I started by ripping all of the pieces down to 3 1/2” wide. It was not straight-line-ripped, so I built a table saw sled/jig to rip one edge straight. Most of the lumber was a little over 8’ long. At the end of the day, I ended up with about 70 pieces 8’ long. I ran all of it through my Dewalt portable planer & most cleaned up at 3/8” thick. This whole process cleaned up most of the cupping problems I had, but every piece was still bowed.
I have the immense good fortune to have a friend who owns a custom millwork & woodworking shop who offered the use of his clamps (and his help) to glue this thing up. So, after about 4 ‘after work’ sessions over the last couple weeks, I had a really messy looking, 3 1/4” thick, 94” long, 25” wide beast.
One more after work session, and the use of a monster wide belt sander, and the thing was flattened & cleaned up on both sides. It was awesome to watch. The sander has a cutter-head (similar to a planer head) ahead of the sanding belt. We took off about 1/8” with the cutter head & sanded it smooth on one side in about 30 seconds.
Flipped it, took 2 lighter passes on, and it is beautiful!
Two cuts on a massive sliding table saw with about a 14” blade, and the ends were clean & square. (sorry, no pictures of that one…) Did I mention that I have immense good fortune to have a ‘friend’ in the millwork business??
Final dimensions: A hair over 3” thick. exactly 25” wide, 90” long.
So, brought it home & it is in the middle of the shop awaiting a trestle base. I am planning on building a version of a bench from Schleining’s workbench book. I think there was a FWW article on it somewhere – called “The Essential Workbench” or something like that. 5” apron (wood to be determined), trestle base, face & end vice.
I suspect the rest of the project will take much longer, because it will all happen in my garage. However, doing the top this way kind of felt like cheating….but I don’t regret it!!
This time, I will document the process. I will need some advice on attaching the top to the base, wood movement & joinery issues (especially with regards to attaching the apron to the slab). I’ll go to the forum with questions as I move along this process. Thanks for looking & feedback is always appreciated – I am still a noob.
-- Allan, Portland, OR