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Fitzroy

All the gear...
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Don't get too excited as this will be a slow build! Plan to build a Roubo style workbench, following Chris Schwarz's plans in his workbench book. Bench will be built from sycamore, bought from a local chap off gumtree so not the best quality but also not too costly so I'll not feel too bad for each mistake.

Boards are rough sawn c. 18' wide, 8' long and just under 2' thick. Air dried (stood in his barn) for 5+ years and then in my house (unheated room) for last 18months. A number of the boards have heart splits and a bit of cup and twist so I've my work cut out. Bench top will be 4" thick laminated from 4"x2" boards.

Boards will have the waney edge removed with a hand saw as they are too unwieldy to put over the table saw.
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I naively thought I could get 3 widths out of most of the boards, but I was amazed by the movement that occurred as I cut a board in half, the straight edge from the previous removal of the waney edge was 1/2" out of straight once I'd cut the 4" width off the edge of the board. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised given the heart split in some of the boards.

Luckily I'd cut the board wide at 5", and once the edge was straighted on the surface planer the narrowest point was still just over 4".
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The bigger issue was once it flattened on face, removing cup and twist, the board ended up only just over 1 1/2" thick. I'm going to need 16 of these for the bench top. Gonna be more glue than wood!
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You can also clearly see the sycamore was cut at the wrong time of year and not stacked vertical to let the sap drain. The result is some ugly grey staining in the wood.
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The board's been left marginally over size, and we'll see how much it moves over the next period. At the moment I'm using it as a template to mark up the boards to cut from my sycamore stock.
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I've once again learnt loads about choosing wood, thinking I'll get more usable wood from rough timber than I ever do, how much wood can move when cut, the importance of how wood is cut and dried, and how much of an office nancy I am (sore arms after making only four cuts).

It'll be a while until the next post when I've got all the top boards ready for final sizing and glue up.

F.
 

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Looking forward to this one. Thanks for posting.

Not sure of your plan but if you cut to width then plane each board in turn you might find that in the time that passes between the first and last boards all the early boards will have moved out of flat. You can easily chase your tail and end up with a micro workbench. Maybe better cut them all to width, then plane them all, then glue up sharpish.
You'll likely get away with leaving a little twist or bend in the face of the boards. So long as you have decent clamps and use plenty of glue.
And no need to straighten more than one edge. So long as the bottom edges of your glue up stack is flattish the rest can be taken care of later in the planer. That'll maximise your top thickness.
Once you've got them glued up you can slow down again as its unlikely to move very much thereafter.

Good luck
Ken
 
A 3" thick top will work perfectly, with lots of scope for an annual dress / flatten. I wouldn't get too stressed about it being 4" thick.
 
Just a query, I would have thought that the through tenons on a Roubo bench would have made the simple task of flattening the top a lot more difficult and frustrating. Having to plane the end grain of through tenons is never pleasant when you are trying to get an 'absolutely flat and true surface. Equally with humidity changes, unless the top is quarter sawn the movement in the wood would have made the tenons proud of the surface at certain times the year??
 
Said it would be slow progress. Now I have a workshop I’m back to thinking about the workbench. Moved the wood out the spare room where it has been sat for over a year, the wife is happier. Forgot how damn heavy the boards are, sore arms now.

Looking at boards and marking up the cuts.
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Leg pieces, annoyingly I’m not going to get two legs out of each, so will have to laminate boards for the rear legs.
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First cut, did I put the cut marks in the correct place?
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Manage to break the boards down on the table saw having set up a big outfeed table. Blanks cut for all parts except top laminate boards.
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Boards for the top, 6 done, 9 more required.
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Off cuts that should go to the fire basket but will likely sit in the offcut bin for several years before they are finally burnt.
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Hopefully I make a little more progress over the next 8 months!

Fitz.
 

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That looks like a lot of hard work but I'm sure the end result will be worthwhile. Looking forward to seeing progress on this one. And your workshop floor looks great!

Paul
 
Oh goodness where did the last 4 years go! At least the wood is definitely dry now.

Lots of other projects completed so now it’s back to the bench. Boards now broken down into rough sizes for frame and top. Need to laminate some bits up for the legs and vice chop.

Lots more shavings to make as I get components to size over the next few weeks.

Fitz.

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Small stretchers machined all square. Always surprised how many shavings you get from the process.

Need to decide if I use the antique wooden screw for the leg vice or get a modern metal one.

Fitz
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Legs laminated and planed square. Long and short stretchers all machined up. Sliding deadman and chop for the leg vise also done.

Four of 15 pieces for the top also first pass machining to size completed. The one I planed up a few months back has developed a bow, so I’ve left the others oversized in case they do also.

A ton load of shavings to dispose of now.


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Nice bit of ripple in one of your stretchers ... guitar bits :)
It's been a real dilemma regards using the timber for a workbench rather than saving it for other projects. However, the deciding factor was that much of it has some significant grey staining, which is common in sycamore cut at the wrong time and stickered/stacked poorly.

There is/were a few interesting bits of figure in the timber, but they are few and far between. I used the best bit for a coffee table, and I've now found peace turning the rest into a workbench. A guitar whilst an interesting thing to make would unfortunately get little use in my household which has the musical abilities of a kazoo.

Fitz.
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Rather than use all decent timber to achieve the desired thickness you could use scaffold boards and then your decent timber on top, a cheaper but just as strong option and it would also allow you to use some of the decent timber for other projects. Having watched the hooked on wood bench build, he used laminated structures for most of his bench components using ply, not sure if in these current times that would be cost effective looking at the price of ply at the moment though.
 
It's been a real dilemma regards using the timber for a workbench rather than saving it for other projects. However, the deciding factor was that much of it has some significant grey staining, which is common in sycamore cut at the wrong time and stickered/stacked poorly.

There is/were a few interesting bits of figure in the timber, but they are few and far between. I used the best bit for a coffee table, and I've now found peace turning the rest into a workbench. A guitar whilst an interesting thing to make would unfortunately get little use in my household which has the musical abilities of a kazoo.

Fitz.
76ab9853-4731-4985-af4e-f7c0f68e9e32-jpeg.105947
That is very nice. yes, I am always on the lookout for something interesting to use for 'guitar bits' but like you say with UK sycamore it seems to be a bit of nice grain here.. another bit there.. never quite enough to do a full whatever you want it to do. I get a fair bit of it for firewood mostly and frustrating just to find a small piece of nice ripple/quilt now and again.. probably enough for a kazoo. :)
 

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