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My first project - Workbench

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phillimp

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Hi All,

My first post for my first project :D

Am currently planning to build a workbench - based in part on the Holtzapffel/Roubo design - have been using Chris Schwarz's book and Richard Maguire workbench website for inspiration.

Have the ash on order and have also purchased a pair of wooden screws for the front vice from RM.

I have a couple of questions that I hope to gain some advice on:

1. I like the idea of having a split top - are there any downsides to this? I believe that all this means is that the bench needs a top stretch?

2. With the top being made of laminated ash (approx 3.5 inch thick) - should I mix the grain? I have read in Chris's book to keep it the same for ease of planing. However, have also read that it should be mixed to make it stronger and reduce any movement.

Thanks, Paul
 

condeesteso

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Hi Paul - this sounds like a fine bench! What do you plan for the tail vice? I have Richard's wagon vice and rate it very highly indeed. And a twin-screw face - good man =D>
Re the split top I'm sure it's fine so long as the top has beefy stretchers under, connecting the legs. the top is easily thick enough to not need extra ones I think. Even if it's say 8' long, the space between legs may be say 5'6" max... no problem.
Selecting the top grain - I found with ash you will get reversal no matter how hard you try, so final planing needs care. Given that I would be choosing the laminates for cleanest (least wild) grain to top, and for looks. If you have some of the oilier stuff (darker colour) it is more dense and I tend to save that for the front laminates which take far more action in use.
In production I guess a big drum sander would finish a top in minutes, but I did it the Schwarz way - all planes freshly honed first. Something around a jack or no6 for first passes, diagonaland light cuts. This tells you where the tearing will be, without doing damage (but light cuts, seriously). Check the top with winding sticks first of course. Just follow Chris's method basically.
With the bench placed centrally so you can plane any direction, then just be patient and always light cuts. I ended up using a No3 for local smoothing, checking any high spots along the way.
A record 080 cabinet scraper may be useful at the final stages, or a card scraper is just as good.
Personally I avoid abrasives totally - the cut is the final surface.
Most use oil/varnish to finish, but I prefer wipe-on cellulose. No build, matt finish (no slippy top) and super-fast to apply and re-dress later.

Pics required please.

p.s. with your two screws, you could do the leg vice and a sliding second leg of course. I love my twin screw (took some getting used to) but the sliding second looks very good too.
 

phillimp

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Thanks for your comments.

This will be my first official woodwork project since school (many moons ago!!). However, I consider myself to be fairly competent at DIY - such as laying wooden flooring. I'm planning on taking it fairly slow and getting as much advise from this forum as I can along the way and of course spending plenty of time upfront to ensure the design is right.

Douglas - I should say that I read your 'my life of vice..' thread with interest this past weekend - and in part this has prompted me to start this topic. If I end up with a bench half as good as yours then I'll be happy.

For my tail vice I plan to construct my own wagon vice around a Veritas shoulder vice screw.

Hopefully should be able to start posting progress updates with pictures shortly.

Thanks again, Paul
 
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