Workbench Project

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17 Jan 2023
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Been quiescent for a few weeks thanks to work being busy but finally have some bits for the new workbench built up. In addition the pressure is on as the good lady apparently has a bun in the oven so tells me quite frequently (and with merciless fortitude) that my days in the workshop are about to be sawn short!

The entire thing is made from this douglas fir grown locally, bought rough sawn in 3x5" (nom) sections. I've sawn it down roughly to size and have had it stickered up for a month to acclimate. The workshop room has good airflow and humidity control. I turn these every week and rearrange the stack. All of these sections have nice straight grain and no central pith. I'll use these for the top slab.

Whilst that was resting then cut down some lengths of redwood 2x4 PAR for the leg H frames. What a nasty looking saw!

I laminated them (three for each leg) after squaring them off with my No. 6. A melody of clamps.

Once this had good and cured I sawed the tenons and then the mortices.

Then a dry fit...

Then some chamfers and glue up ( a few weeks later)

and finally, an ode to the plane.

Next the slab.
Is there a particular reason to laminate the legs in that way instead of just laying the 4x2's face to face?
Is there a particular reason to laminate the legs in that way instead of just laying the 4x2's face to face?
I joined them like this Oscar. face:face with a third face to edges. this allowed me to form the mortices in a face side and leave another face side for stretchers. I've since decided not to have stretchers and instead use aprons. so they just look chunky.

I may abandon these to another project and make up some leg frames from the remaining Douglas fir I have lol.


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so the top

did this in sections so initially scrub planed the stock then refined this before using the jointer plane then glue up

then once the main deck was joined and cured I roughly flattened it


then cut a rebate(is it a rebate?) for the bench vice (52 1/2). to go behind the front apron.

then a tool well, this is forming part of the main top rather than floating like in the sellers workbench. I used 20mm dowel to help guide it
ive also added some sloped blocks to help stability and also provide an easy way to clean out the well. in the background is the front apron which I simply edge jointed
and here was have it thus far. not glued yet I'm clamping it to mark the vice holes in the front apron. need to make up the rear apron too still.

tomorrow I'll sort the new legs out from these which I've made up from the same 3x5 stock
not much progress thanks to the mewling one but I've infilled the initial vice cutaway in favour of housing it in the apron.

I did a retrospective plan of the design although the apron now houses the vice complete and not just the face section. the reason for this was I could potentially change out the vice for a moxon or leg vice in the future and just take the apron off.
otherwise I made the second apron and started shaping the laminated 2x4 (to 2x8) for the lower leg frame tenons. the uppers will be doug fir with bearers set into them.


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made a good start on the leg frames.
I made the new legs square and coplaner ready to accept the mortices.
the legs are approx 6x5", the top mortice is 1" wide by 3" and this will accept a tenon on a rail made from ripped and flipped amd laminated 3x5"
the lower mortice is larger but thinner (approx 5/8x6") to preserve a good shoulder to the tenon. this lower rail is from redwood 2x4 laminated up as 2x8 as I didn't have enough Douglas fir left to make these up. I'll then site a series of stretchers across these to further increase stability although the aprons should offer a good deal of this. the stretchers will also create a lower shelf.

used a combination of a router plane and a block plane to trim the tenons until they fit nicely

one assembled with drawbore dowels as well. the upper tenons will be flush as they will be half covered by the apron
and here is the current state. this weekend plan yo finish the other leg frame and start work on the tail /wagon vice fitment

thanks for following along!


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I've finished the leg frames and they have a coat of osmo polyx on them. I messed up one of the mortices (the lower taller ones) I think this was due to allowing my firmer chisel to twist as I formed the mortice from one side to the next. I ended up using tongue depressors to find the best width to resize the mortices then could form tenons appropriately...


I then bought a proper mortice chisel second hand and revised the mortice up from half inch to 3/4". fortunately this worked but means one of the tenons is fatter than the others


I've also made up some bearers and I've routed out the vice cutout in the front apron. this was more challenging as the area was at the limit of travel for the router plane. I had to get a chisel in there, riding on the bevel to remove more material. not as pretty but got it done, using a caliper to check depth at the corners.


made a start on the end caps which will also provide a hardwood surface to accommodate the tail vice.

I'm dovetailing them into the apron at the front and at the rear will just be halflap. then apron falls away medially from the end caps and the leg frame will be inset from this
managed to steal a bit more time on this.

have dismantled the old thing I'd been using which served me well whilst I decided if I wanted to take this hobby seriously. it was a horrid mess of cantilever desk with layers of timber and ply making up a constantly evolving thing.

I fitted the front apron and checked things were square
I then started routing out the inset for the hardwood stationary vice face


I then put the top onto the leg frames which gave me the first view of what it would look like


the main structural integrity was going to come from the aprons per Sellers and this is still the plan but I've also added some 2x4 stretchers and I've rebated these onto the cross sections and also onto the vertical legs with rebate & dowel, im hoping this will increase rigidity and provide more strength as I'll use these stretchers as a shelf. it's the perfect size four 4 x dewalt cases

have also completed the sapelle shroud / face for the mobile vice face, and made a start on the inset sapelle stationary face.

hopefully tomorrow I'll get the back apron on and trim the ends square, then it's deciding on the tail / wagon vice approach!
oops! :oops:

so I forgot to sort the end cap before putting rear apron on.

@rob1693 yes enjoyable process all the same despite making such a silly mistake!


so the way I see it I could trim it short and wedge it or I could box joint the rear and put shims in.

any advice? thanks chaps

otherwise things shaping up alreet and now functional


whuch meant i did a bit QoL stuff

next job is implement a wagon vice idea. I've decided to chop out the insert for it, if my approach doesn't work I can put the HNT Gordon one in or equivalent.

and a cart for the small bandsaw and dust collector tub.
OK! managed to sort that mistake out.
I chopped off the end cap just enough to allow it to lever onto the dovetail. then I cut a sycamore wedge to bridge the gap. this sycamore had sentimental value so I'm happy to see it in the bench
not perfect but I'm happy with it.

I've gone for the veritas tail vice thanks to @Ttrees @RobNichols , a lot more manageable for my skill level. just need to infill the holes I'd made (optimistically) for the wagon vice. Will do this with dowel and it will actually complement the leg drawbore dowel pattern. the wagon vice kit will perhaps go to another project.

tomorrow I'll start chiselling/routing the pattern for the metal veritas vice carriage. it'll be sufficient for my needs to hold work for planing.

then I need to think about finish!


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How many hours

Good question! been thinking about it. a lot!
I would estimate 40hours solid work so far based since August, most of that was planing it all squarish from rough sawn.

this week have managed to chisel and route out the inset vice

tomorrow I'll think about dog spacing and will be putting hardwood inlay to site the dog holes.

today made a good start on the bench dogs. the 19mm forstner came so I ripped some thin sections sapelle on the bandsaw, these will form the inlay sections that help house the dogs. I has intended using a lamination I'd made up with maple for some contrast but thought it be better just straightforward sapelle and the maple I had was too dark:

I planed a slight camber to the edges to ensure a snug fit and drilled the 19mm holes out.

then i marked the outline onto the workbench inline with the inset vice. I'm doing 15cm / 6" spacing.

then I used a drill guide to drill out 50mm depth holes to house the pop up dogs. I inserted the old knock out waste from metal patress boxes which are almost perfectly sized to sit at the base of the holes to give the dogs something firm to spring against.
worked well and chisel work is coming on well. Will do the second one tomorrow, and identical operation just further down the bench!

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