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ben2

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Hi

Firstly I would like to than the regular contributers to this forum - you provide great inspiration for the projects/builds etc, as well as tips and advice.

So after much thought I have finally decided that its time for the workmate to be put away and build a proper bench. My intention is to make the French Workbench in Christopher Schwarz book, In it he suggests Southern Yellow Pine as a material to make the bench in, and all the stats in his book back it up. The top is laminated out out yellow pine, 100 mm thick, 600 mm wide, 2400 mm long.

I have started to get prices for Southern Yellow Pine and Douglas fir - my local Timber merchant for 32 x 300 sawn boards wants £14.92 per lin m (plus vat and carriage), Douglas fir (50 x 100 sawn) £15.88 per lin m!!

I've found one place a bit cheaper for SYP but I need to buy 1 m3...for £533 plus vat and carriage.

I was wondering if anyone had any sources of cheaper timber in the Essex/Suffolk area (or with reasonable delivery costs which would be suitable?

Any help appreciated!!

Thanks

Mark
 

marcros

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Mark,

There is a section in the book which discusses this. The SYP is recommended because it is cheap and readily available where Schwarz lives- he mentions getting it from the local Home Depot and it costing a couple of hundred dollars for what he needs. The tables show that SYP is not the top of the list of choices for every quality, but the cheapness and availability make up for this.

I would have a look at what is available to you at a reasonable price, and have a look at its qualities from there, selecting what is most appropriate. Ash, Beech etc have traditionally been used for European benches for centuries- because they are available over here and reasonably proced. In the USA, I expect that building a bench from these would be very expensive. Don't disguard softwood either.

Also, Schwarz advises many times about avoiding 2x4's- instead buying wider sections and ripping them to 4" pieves from it. He says that generally 2x4's are twisted all over the place.

Good luck with your build- I am embarking on the other bench in his book- the English workbench. God Bless the Queen and all that!

Mark
 

bugbear

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It is sometimes hilarious watching woodworkers falling into "the grass is greener" syndrome, with American importing European beech to make benches, and Europeans importing American Maple to make benches.

BugBear
 

jimi43

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Nice words from a new contributor Mark! Excellent start if I may say so!

I cannot...in the time honoured Jimi tradition of "getting my coat" though...resist a little joke on behalf of my dear friend condeesteso....

What is Douglas Fir?

Teaching you how to make a superb bench...that's what he's fir!!


Sorry.... :mrgreen: :oops:

But before I get me coat and pull his leg vise anymore...I will have to say you can learn a lot from his bench building...any one of them!!! :wink:

Jim
 

ben2

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Hi

Thanks for the replies.

Great bench(es) condeesteso....enjoying the musings!

I went down to my local timber supplier at the weekend and had a long chat with them, to look at cheaper timbers - the nett result was they suggested Sapele ...still over £800...beech and other european sourced woods were much more...

I've done some more research and come up with Lauan - seems to have pretty good properties and I can get it for the bench (not the vice) for around £400.

Does anyone have any experience of using Lauan either for a bench or other projects? On paper looks quite good, not quite a dense as beech and SYP.

Thanks

Mark
 

marcros

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There sounds like there is something not quite right there. If I recall one of Condeesteso's posts, I think that there is approx 14 cubic feet of timber in that bench + wastage etc. Sawn Beech and Ash should be iro £25-£30 a cube I think, although I am struggling to find prices online to back this up. Somebody will be along soon who will know the prices better than 1. I wondering if they are doing you a dis-service by trying to get in whatever you want, in a tiny quantity rather than only selling what they have. Are they a specialist, or somebody that also sells timber?

I havent came across Lauan before.
 

Benchwayze

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marcros":1ct6s9ns said:
I havent came across Lauan before.
Luan is very soft Marcos, and is also called Philippine Mahogany.
It does resemble mahogany in grain texture, but it doesn't work so well, and it can be pinkish rather than red/brown.
Too soft for a bench top. I know because that's what I have at present, bought in the form of strip-laminated sheets, like the pine we can get today.

It's used a lot for the '15' pane interior doors.

Ben... If you use Luan for laminating a bench top, you would do best to surface it through a large sanding machine. Otherwise it will take forever with the sharpest plane, to do it without tearing the grain out in chunks!

HTH :D
 

Pete W

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I'm pretty sure I saw a comment from Chris Schwarz last year to the effect that, while he was teaching a class in Germany, he'd discovered Baltic redwood/Scots pine and suggested that this would be a great choice for a workbench. You can probably build your bench and get change from £200. If you really want a show top, build the base out of redwood and the top out of beech or ash.

Here's the most important thing Chris says on building workbenches, and the advice most people seem to overlook: "And finally, let me repeat something that I've said about 100 times about workbench materials: Almost any wood will do. Pick something that is readily available, inexpensive, dry and stiff. You'll be fine."
 

marcros

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Pete W":1w0tl9lu said:
Here's the most important thing Chris says on building workbenches, and the advice most people seem to overlook: "And finally, let me repeat something that I've said about 100 times about workbench materials: Almost any wood will do. Pick something that is readily available, inexpensive, dry and stiff. You'll be fine."
 

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Jacob

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Pete W":3ktq4tfo said:
I'm pretty sure I saw a comment from Chris Schwarz last year to the effect that, while he was teaching a class in Germany, he'd discovered Baltic redwood/Scots pine and suggested that this would be a great choice for a workbench. You can probably build your bench and get change from £200. If you really want a show top, build the base out of redwood and the top out of beech or ash.

Here's the most important thing Chris says on building workbenches, and the advice most people seem to overlook: "And finally, let me repeat something that I've said about 100 times about workbench materials: Almost any wood will do. Pick something that is readily available, inexpensive, dry and stiff. You'll be fine."
Mine's redwood. It's taken quite a bashing for 35 years. Still going strong.
There's a UK prejudice or blind spot against redwood and other softwoods, for no good reason. Perhaps due to American sources of information - Scots Pine (aka UK "redwood") isn't the same as USA redwood and doesn't feature much over there. It must grow there though, I don't know why they don't use it.

PS just looked here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_Pine
Some explanation there. Scots Pine not native to USA .
 

Benchwayze

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Note that Chris Schwartz said 'almost' any wood will do.

I still wouldn't include Luan for my next benchtop. I used it because it was available in laminated boards of 7/8" thick, it was from a clearance sale, and it was flat, having been through an industrial sander. I used four sheets glued together. It served okay, but it's only marginally more resistant to accidental blows, than balsa wood.

If you are like me; a little frenetic when you work, then you drop tools down on a bench between operations, and clear up afterwards. So I expect the odd ding in the top, and the harder the wood used, the better. :mrgreen:
 

Pete W

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Benchwayze":3tcy0be7 said:
I still wouldn't include Luan for my next benchtop.
Must admit, I've never thought of luan for a bench :) Wouldn't use cedar or lime/basswood either, but can't see a problem with redwood. I know there are people who want a showcase bench they can be proud of, and good luck to them, but I can't imagine such a thing in my workshop. Strikes me like having a solid gold back on your dovetail saw, or diamond-studded chisels.
 

Benchwayze

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Strange coincidence Pete. I was also going to include cedar wood in my list of non 'bench' timbers. But I decided Luan is soft enough. :mrgreen:

I am not 'precious' about my bench, but mine is really past it. I still want a bench I won't be ashamed of. The timber I can buy locally to my home, is mostly sopping wet and for pine, not so easy to work. So I went to a larger sawmill (Sykes) and got some decent SYP.

For one thing, I am enjoying using it, and I like the scent of it in my shop. However, principally, at my age, I needed a timber that wouldn't be difficult to work; although methinks I won't have to re-flatten it too many times! :lol:

:eek:ccasion5:
 

Benchwayze

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Indeed Pete. But so far I don't have the trouble with cash machines that 'Greg Wallace' (Ego on the hoof!) seems to think most oldsters do!

If I had a twitter account, I would soon tell him so too! :lol: :lol: :lol:

(I don't watch 'Room 201' normally, but I didn't want to get involved in something else and miss 'Hustle'! :mrgreen:

Cheers.. J :)
 

Jacob

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If you think SYP is OK for a bench (it isn't particularly) then redwood will suit you even better; stronger, heavier. cheaper, more readily available.
Beech is trad for benches (to some extent) mainly because it's no good for anything else, hence benches, mallets etc. It used to be cheap.
Ash is wasted on a bench.
Redwood, Larch, other softwoods, make much more sense.
 

marcros

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Jacob":2a72ihfx said:
If you think SYP is OK for a bench (it isn't particularly) then redwood will suit you even better; stronger, heavier. cheaper, more readily available.
Beech is trad for benches (to some extent) mainly because it's no good for anything else, hence benches, mallets etc. It used to be cheap.
Ash is wasted on a bench.
Redwood, Larch, other softwoods, make much more sense.
unless of course ash is more readily available than any of the others and if you could buy it cheaper , in which case it would be ideal. It is probably more wasted making a coffin from it than making a bench.
 

Jacob

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marcros":3hpocfyr said:
......
unless of course ash is more readily available than any of the others and if you could buy it cheaper , in which case it would be ideal. It is probably more wasted making a coffin from it than making a bench.
Ash? Coffin? You aren't getting confused with cremation? It's another sort of ash altogether. :shock:
 

Pete W

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At many of the wood suppliers I check, ash is the cheapest of the hardwoods. If you don't want a softwood bench, that makes ash a good choice in my book. Of the softwoods, I think larch has a lot to commend it but it's surprisingly hard to find - especially in light of the media scare stories a few months ago saying that larch was being widely felled because of the p. ramorum issue (http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-7XVEWH). I was expecting - or at least, hoping - for a glut of cheap larch but it never seemed to materialize.

If it was just a little cheaper and more readily available, I think poplar/tulipwood would be a strong contender, too. And apart from the fact that the grain is a bit dull to my eyes, I can't see much wrong with beech for anything - which makes it a good contender for a workbench.
 
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