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Work bench build advice - Oak Slabs

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Jastbury

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I'm after some advice.

I'm building a new bench and after reading the Chris Schwarz book and watching a host of YouTube videos I've decided on the Roubo workbench. With a leg vice ( I have a lovely leg vice already) and wagon vice.

So here is the tough one, my grandfather (age 88) has given me 3 oak slabs measuring around 1900mm long, 60mm thick and approx 400mm wide. They've been the base of his old shed for around 20 years. So dryness isn't a concern for me :). He's also given me some other lumps of oak that will cover the legs but I may need another piece for one of the stretchers, which is a shame as the wood looks like all one tree.

First question- Ideally I'd have like the top 150mm thick and 600mm deep, but that doesn't work too well on the slabs size for me so would 100mm be enough? The reason I ask is that it will be around 20% ish lighter.

Length wise is a little shorter than perfect but I think I can live with it. Around 2500mm would fit in the space I have nicely.

I've decided to use these slabs for a work bench as my grandfather was a builder and my dad until recently was a cabinet maker, I have two jobs part time and one of those jobs is, if it's wood i'll give it a go. So having something which is overkill but (I hope not too soon) a lovely reminder of him is a big plus point. But it does seem a little wasteful of such lovely slabs. I don't really have a need for them for any other projects for my house, I did look at getting them milled into 30mm thick stock and make a book matched table (I did just finish my own dining table 3 months ago so I don't really want to make another just yet :) ). I've had zero reply/time wasted with mills around Northamptonshire. I do now own a Logosol, so could use that.

Second question- would you make a work bench out of this? Use it for clients projects? Mill it thin so it usable in your house? or just sell the slabs and buy stock to get the perfect bench?

THANKS
 

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Adam W.

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4" is OK and it would make a good bench.

I made an oak bench over a weekend with left over bits of timber frame. It's entirely pegged together and I can take it apart if I want to pack it up and take it somewhere else.

IMG_1963.JPG
 

Fitzroy

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I wouldn’t try and mill them thinner, I think you risk ending up with stuff too think to get much from if you get much reaction from resawing in half.

Sounds like and awesome bench! Whether you should use the slabs for it is a tough call. I’ve a very similar bench build planned, and picked up a stack of local sycamore a few years back. Sycamore is not ideal as it is soft, but more so over my woodwork journey I’ve thought perhaps it’s a waste of good wood. I’ve built everything so far on a bench made from construction timber and OSB.

I have however decided I am going to use it. I spend a good deal of time making items, and working each time on a bench I crafted (just for me) will give me fuzzy feelings. I could see incorporating wood with associated memories would make it an even nicer thing to work on.

Fitz
 

AndrewS

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I was lucky enough to snag one of the last benches Richard Maguire built, at a time when we were up to our necks in a house build project and I was working off a Black Decker Workmate. I specified a 90mm top vs. 75mm std if memory serves, it’s solid ash with a twin wooden screw vice and a tail vice. It is quite simply my all-time favourite possession. I love using it and caring for it and I know those feelings would only be amplified if I’d been able to build it myself.
I would say go for it and enjoy the imperfections. Nothing else will hold such sentimental value.
 

Cabinetman

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I am presuming you’re going to cut it into 100 mil slices and turn them on edge and re-glue together – fine, are you also extending the length by recreating a sort of kitchen worktop effect but hopefully using as long a pieces as you can, can’t see why it won’t be a wonderful bench, the middle photo is unclear but it looks as if there is a certain amount of bark growing up through in patches in the centre of the board obviously that isn’t so good for a bench top unless you can cut around it. Certainly 100 mm thick top is going to be massively solid personally I don’t think you’ll notice any difference if you reduce it to 75 mil if you wanted to make your timber go little bit further. Ian
 
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