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my new workbench

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marcros

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There are some weeks that try as I might, I just cannot get any garage time. This last fortnight has been a bit like that.

I have had some ash acclimatising for about a month now, ready for a workbench build. I have cheaped slightly (a lot) because douglas kindly got the timber, and wizzed it through his planer for me until it was damn near perfect. As a result, I only really need to cut the pieces to size, cut some joints and assemble. Only, I say...

There are a number of threads on here about people building the Roubo bench- I have gone with the other one- the English workbench in the Shwarz book, with its deep front aprons. I will have nothing to compare it to, but over the coming years I plan to put it through its paces and so will see how it fares. My design differs from the book in a number of ways- the book is being used for inspiration rather than a plan. All of the dimensions are different, the construction of the legs is different, the jointing is similar, but different, and the top is based on mdf and a firedoor rather than hardwood. That said, benches have traditionally been build from what was available, so if solid core firedoors and mdf were available 200 years ago, then it is possible that they would have been used. I believe that they should also be built around the dimensions of timber that you have, rather than spend forever trying to source things to a particular size just because the plan says so- there has to be some flexibility.

internet picture of bench

My bench will not have the shelf- I want to try and avoid places to put too much rubbish. I debated having a tool well, but decided against for the same reason- I will put tool storage on the wall behind, and if necessary will put a cantilevered tool well behind. It will incorporate a leg vice, but in homage to the benchcrafted design, it is to have a handwheel on it. I am yet to decide whether to put the nylon rollers on as Tony did on his bench, or go without, as Douglas did. Both seem happy with the outcome, and I am yet to get the screw. For a slight twist, to save having to do too much metalwork to make a handwheel fit, I am thinking about making a solid (rather than spoked) one from palo santo. To do so, I need to source a 200-225mm cylinder about 50mm thick. Anybody know a source? It should have the mass to push the vice face in when the wheel is spun.

Tonight, I have cut to length the 4 legs, which consist of an inner and outer piece. I have also cut to length and tenoned the rails of which there are 2 upper and 2 lower. Having jumped in the shower and got all clean, I have a niggling doubt that I have cut the rails wrong, and may not have subtracted the outer leg lamination from the overall width. I will have to measure again tomorrow- at least they have been cut too long. I cut some tenons on the table saw, and some on the router table. Both have came out alright and I am not sure which method I prefer. If I had any means of holding work, I would cut them by hand, which is probably as quick. I may have to knock up a saw horse, and bring forward the purchase of the holdfasts, but for now I can make do with one of these methods. I will be annoyed itf they are wrong, but there is no point worrying about it.

No pictures yet, but I will take some as I start assembly...
 

jimi43

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Hi Mark

I too am looking forward to seeing this build...Douglas has spoken of it often.

Regarding the wheel and following your PM...I think that you might just get a single piece of palo santo from TIMBERLINE...probably best to have a chat with Robert....but certainly you will be lucky to find real lignum vitae of that dimension...it is quite a small tree to begin with...though not impossible.

You may need to create a composite wheel...keep in mind that the one problem with LV is that it is a nightmare to glue..as it exudes oil for decades...you may find that you need to join sections with something like brass reinforcement rod or plate...a sandwich of wood/brass or steel plate/wood would be wonderful and you could use the centre bored as the boss.....let me have a think about it.

Looking forward to seeing WIP pictures.

Cheers

Jim
 

marcros

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jimi43":2fva6ruz said:
Hi Mark

I too am looking forward to seeing this build...Douglas has spoken of it often.

Regarding the wheel and following your PM...I think that you might just get a single piece of palo santo from TIMBERLINE...probably best to have a chat with Robert....but certainly you will be lucky to find real lignum vitae of that dimension...it is quite a small tree to begin with...though not impossible.

You may need to create a composite wheel...keep in mind that the one problem with LV is that it is a nightmare to glue..as it exudes oil for decades...you may find that you need to join sections with something like brass reinforcement rod or plate...a sandwich of wood/brass or steel plate/wood would be wonderful and you could use the centre bored as the boss.....let me have a think about it.

Looking forward to seeing WIP pictures.

Cheers

Jim
I tried Timberline, who have stock, but only in a cylinder 350mm long, which would last me an eternity. It also weighs 15kg which isn't too desirable when it is sold by the kilogram. They have a board 500mm x 200mm x 52mm, but again, the remainder would last me forever. I didn't know, but I feared it would be difficult to glue. A composite could be interesting, a mechanical fixing might work to laminate sections, like a small version of a worktop bolt. It wouldn't be seen if it was done from behind. I am quite taken with the idea of a wooden handwheel, maybe I shouldn't worry too much about PS/LV, but instead have a wheel turned from any contrasting hardwood, with some recesses in the back that can be filled with lead to give me the mass? I have some time to think about it anyway.
 

No skills

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If your making a composite wheel can you not form a hollow in one layer and pour runny cement into it for a bit of mass, just a thought.
 

DTR

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Good luck with the build, I look forward to seeing pics of the finished article 8)
 

marcros

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No skills":1v6i9qsy said:
If your making a composite wheel can you not form a hollow in one layer and pour runny cement into it for a bit of mass, just a thought.
Might work. I hadn't thought of that, but I will give it some thought.

I have just cut my first ever mortice and tenon joint. The mortice was done by hand using a 1/2" ward pig sticker that cost me a quid on ebay. It is a beast! Bit tight, so needs tuning, but better that way than the other. When it fits, I will get a picture. I have no shoulder plane so am paring with a chisel- should I adjust the mortice (which is pretty clean), or the tenon (also pretty clean)? We must only be talking a gnats- because it is tight rather than not fitting- if I was to wack it may go, but may also split the wood.
 

Tony Spear

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marcros":3aqx3ghv said:
No skills":3aqx3ghv said:
should I adjust the mortice (which is pretty clean), or the tenon (also pretty clean)? We must only be talking a gnats- because it is tight rather than not fitting- if I was to wack it may go, but may also split the wood.
In my view, adjust the tenon with your chisel, if you're that close to a good fit you might it difficult to shave the mortice as lightly as you probably need!
 

Cheshirechappie

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On the mortice and tenon, it's usually easier to pare the tenon (carefully, a shaving at a time - it's surprising how easy it is to overcook the paring).

If you are ever in the habit of passing scrapyards, you may salvage a machine tool handwheel. The older ones were mostly cast iron, and tend to be quite heavy. If you're really lucky, you might even get the feedscrew and nut still attached. (Try to avoid lugging the whole machine home just to salvage the screw, though!)
 

marcros

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They say that you learn from your mistakes, and so I ensured that I maximised the learning!

I was going to do a full WIP, but 1. I cant find my compact camera and 2. Space is so tight, getting good photos is nigh on impossible

I have enjoyed some experiments along the way so far

Lessons learned:

Mortices

I tried 1. fully by hand, 2. Hogging out the waste with a drill and tidying up. I tried one of each and cut the remainder fully by hand. I found it to be just as quick. I bought a 1/2" ward pig sticker from ebay. Must have been my day, because it cost me about a fiver including postage. It is huge, but indispensable. I found it so instinctive to hold vertically, and get nice clean mortices. I have since got a couple of other sizes for smaller mortices.

Tenons

Did some on the router table, some on the table saw and some by hand, Not much between the table saw and the router table- router gave slightly better finish but was noisier. Would use either method again.

Marking out

A craft knife and steel rule have been brilliant. I had a couple of cheap and abused marking gauges, the better of which broke. A quality cutting gauge might have been useful and a proper mortice gauge. I would also like to try one of the wheel cutters on the market. I found knife marks hard to see, so found myself putting a pencil along them after cutting, particularly on mortices.

Measuring.

I made some errors here. My aprons have ended up half an inch high, which suggests that each outer leg was 1/2" too long. I will get around this by packing out the top rails, which is no bad thing because it will give me an area to screw/miller dowel the top to the base. I spent time making sure that I cut every angled piece on the sliding saw table before changing the angle- the kity is very good, but I dont trust the angle gauge to reset to the same place.

Clamps.

Silverline F and G clamps are well worth the money. They have a habit of losing the plastic ends, but they snap back on. Beesey may not do so, but I cannot justify the expense. They seem to hold very well.

Rutands sash clamps- these are ok. The build quality isnt great- every one has lost its wire that holds the pin to the body, and they have only been used a couple of times each. In restricted space, clamps that are too long are almost as bad as those that are too short.

You can never have enough clamps.

Glue.

Cascamite has taken the rush out of gluing up- I dont like to be pressured, and most of my mistakes have been when trying to do a few last bits for the evening, or where tired.

Faults.

My mortices were not as tidy as they could have been. This was partially (mainly) inexperience- the first ones that I had cut, and slightly misunderstanding the wedging process. Luckily they are all hidden.

The odd slip with the router, but only on covered rails.

I tried to be clever and cut tenons on the table saw- not fully appreciating the amount of blade curvature- there are a few bits where the saw cut a bit deep- I didn't want to balance the timber on end without a safe means of doing so.

Anyway, I now have a topless, viceless bench. photos were from my phone, so are not very good. even as phone cameras go, it is pretty poor.
 

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JakeS

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marcros":19k4tfzr said:
Silverline F and G clamps are well worth the money.
For what it's worth: it's also my experience that overall, the F clamps are good value for money (particularly given how cheap they are)... but I've now had two snap the heads clean off when I first put pressure on them, so on subsequent purchases I've been careful to tighten them down to a bit of scrap to check they're OK before actually using them in anger.
 

JakeS

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marcros":1bjdk95t said:
they have a lifetime guarantee though IIRC
Yeah, I think all Silverline hand-tool stuff makes that boast. If you actually look into it on their website, though, they only guarantee the first 30 days unless you registered your purchase with them within that timeframe, and while I'd like to believe that they'd ultimately be held to their promise anyway since there's no such details on the packaging of the item itself, I expect it'd almost certainly cost me more than £2 worth of hassle... :/


Nevertheless, I was more worried about finding other clamps to secure the thing I'd already applied glue to, at the time! ;-)
 

marcros

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ah, the dreaded small print.

And that is why I like cascamite!
 

beech1948

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This is just a little curiosity for me. The bench I built about 25 yrs ago was an almost standard English bench with a deep and wide wooden front vice with a 2" metal screw to move the vice jaws and a standard tail vice again in wood. The rest of the bench is pretty unremarkable except for 4" thick beech top and some 5" square beech legs.

So that was about the past. Looking at this bench with the splayed/leaning legs and the deep side boards it is the first time I will have seen one of these in a furniture shop even if its a hobby shop in a garage or a professional set up.

I have seen these bench types but only in boat yards.......obviously good for some fine and complex tasks.

So why have you chosen this design specifically particularly as I thought you were interested in furniture production mainly or is it an experiment OR have I just been blind to this style of bench.

Not criticism and certainly not a put down just some genuine curiosity.

Al
 

marcros

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I liked the look of it when I first saw it, and on paper it offered enough features to make it work for me. The fashion seems to be entirely for French style benches at the moment, and whilst they looked very good and perform very well, they were reliant on a thick heavy top, the timber for which I didnt have at the time, and would have cost me a fair amount to buy. Budget was a very significant consideration when I started this build.

The bench that I have built is heavier in construction than the plans, because I stumbled upon timber that I didnt expect to at the outset. I had originally planned to make it from softwood, with a firedoor and mdf top. The mdf has now been replaced (in my plan) with some American Ash, because again, I was fortunate to get hold of some at a very good price. This bench required about 4 cubic feet of timber (IIRC) + the top as described. As built, it The Roubo style needed nearer 10 cubic feet.

Specifically about the features that I liked on this bench:
Deep aprons for rigidity and supporting long boards against. These were easier for me (this is 1st major project) than fitting and tuning a sliding deadman or sliding leg vice.
Splayed legs- extended the capacity of the leg vice (still to be fitted) and in my mind reduce the potential of racking more so than straight legs.
Most of my joints are hidden, and so the learning curve is not staring at everybody that sees it.
I like its raw simplicity- In effect it is a couple of saw horses, a couple of planks and a top. On a budget, you could easily make one from scaffold boards! You would struggle to do this with the other designs.

I have only really seen a number of WIP bench builds rather than many benches in service- I dont know how many of this style are in shops up and down the land, but there must be some. I plan to use mine for making a variety of things, including furniture but am only a hobbyist. Perhaps the shipyards lean towards the traditional designs, whereas furniture shops follow the fashions more- the products that each makes will also tend towards this.

Thanks for your comments/observations. Interesting stuff.
 

jimi43

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I like that style and it has to be more stable...I mean you don't make saw horses square!

I think you have to drag it outside and take some decent pictures though...so we can see it in all its glory

Nice job! =D>

Jim
 
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