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Yet another english style workbench build

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SteL

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Hi SteL, most impressed, not sure really why you are using nails except that’s what probably other people have told you, but that’s not your fault. I like the way you defeat your problems, I always think that what makes a good woodworker is the way they can think ahead in an innovative way to solve the problems to get a great end result.
Now have a look at my post, it’s called something like " I think this should be required viewing for every woodworker " A really great woodworker showing how to hold timber down or against a bench using bench holdfasts, a strange thing that lifts out of the centre of the bench, and a strange angled stick on the front apron.
I know, gobbledygook but you watch it, I know you will be amazed. Happy woodworking Ian

Thanks, Ian. I read that post yesterday and gave it the thumbs up! I was amazed that you could hold things in that many different ways - and with no vice. I've mentioned this before, but as a beginner, trying to work out the best way to position and hold things is difficult (or I've found it difficult). I've had those trestles in some wayward positions trying to mark them up or plane them.

Agreed, hopefully, as I get more experienced I will see more problems in advance rather than stumbling through them!

I was going to use dowel rather than nails but I'm having a go at only using hand tools and when I thought about drilling all the holes by hand I broke out in a sweat!

On the subject of holdfasts... I've picked up a Record 145 with 2 collars and a Record 146 with one collar (just missing the bolts and nuts). When it comes to fitting them I'll probably be back asking for the best positioning on the bench.
 

SteL

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Thanks, Blaidd-Drwg and Phil pascoe. Good idea - It'd be nice to get it outside on a nice day!
 

SteL

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A pale hardwood like beech, maple or London plane?
Thanks very much, MusicMan. I'll have a look at those. Species of wood is something I know absolutely nothing about!
 

MikeG.

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You've two choices with the twisted board, I reckon. One is to replace it altogether, and the second is to make it the hind-most board, and plane it down. I'd almost certainly do the latter. Don't try and fight twist, because twist always wins. You'll find your board will introduce a twist to the whole of the bench if you were to wrestle it into position now with clamps.
 

thetyreman

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why not go for redwood pine for the top? it's what I used for mine and it's been fine, no regrets, it still functions the same as a hardwood top and it's only going to get dings, dirt and dents in it anyway no matter how careful you are.
 

SteL

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why not go for redwood pine for the top? it's what I used for mine and it's been fine, no regrets, it still functions the same as a hardwood top and it's only going to get dings, dirt and dents in it anyway no matter how careful you are.
You're right. I've just looked at prices for hardwood and I think I'll be sticking with redwood pine!
 

SteL

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You've two choices with the twisted board, I reckon. One is to replace it altogether, and the second is to make it the hind-most board, and plane it down. I'd almost certainly do the latter. Don't try and fight twist, because twist always wins. You'll find your board will introduce a twist to the whole of the bench if you were to wrestle it into position now with clamps.
Thanks, MikeG. I suppose I have nothing to lose giving it a go with the plane. I'll see how thin it ends up. If it goes really thin I could use it as a tool well in the middle! I think I'll probably end up getting a new length, though.
 

SteL

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Right on with the worlds longest workbench build. I'm glad I started this thread, though. At least I can see that I began at the start of July - so that's 3 months so far! I would've said I'd been just over a month into the build if I was to guess. I did get held up for a bit waiting for my vice and I'm only able to crack on at weekends now. Even then that might just be a day or a half-day.

This was a quick job really - just cutting and installing the bearers, then flattening them ready for the top...


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Not much went wrong here. Like before fatigue led to a couple of misplaced hammer blows! On all of this build so far I've found it useful to always start on the back where no one will see to get the hang of things first. On this occasion, it would have been better starting at the front while I could still move my arm!

I couldn't resist throwing the vice in and getting an idea of how it might end up...

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Now I need to replace that twisted top board so that's going to hold me up. I'll have to find somewhere that is open on a weekend, lets you in the yard because of COVID-19 and a time I can be in for delivery (god knows when that will be). As you can see above, the twisted board flattens with the clamps but it does take some effort. I keep getting tempted to just use it so I can get on and get it finished!
 

SteL

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Right, I finally had a spare weekend and replaced my twisted boards to get the top on. The only difficult part here was chopping out the square hole for the planing stop. I had a couple of practices doing the speedy method Richard shows on the video, but they didn't come out very neat for me. I eventually resorted back to the newbie slow method I used for the vice hole. It worked but took ages! I bought a Benchcrafted planing stop (see below) because I didn't fancy making my own - that is getting into a whole new murky world of metalwork. Also, I don't own any files.

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The hole is flush with one of the bearers for some extra strength...

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So I then spent the rest of the day littering the top with nails. My thumb took a beating, especially when punching the nails down deep. I need a longer nail punch I think.

Using hide glue for the top was a right nightmare. It sent me into panic mode a few times. I had to keep dipping it in hot water just to get it out of the bottle. I won't look forward to using that stuff again.


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Next will be onto flattening the top and flushing up the top to the front apron. Then having a go at smoothing the top and front apron. I'm dreading planing some of those knots!

Oh and I'm going to use some epoxy to waterproof the bottom of the legs. Sometimes rain comes in under the garage door and the legs have been getting a bit wet.

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The only bits left then are assempling the vice and planing stop. It doesn't sound like much is left but at my rate or progress that will probably take me beyond Christmas!
 

SteL

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Right, the home straight I think! For once I think I'm actually going to finish something I've started.

First I decided to finish the plaining stop, so I plained a piece down to size with a heavy camber on the iron...

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That obviously caused lots of tearout...

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So within a final couple of mm, I switched to a finer set plain

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Still a bit of tearout, but it won't be seen anyway. My plaining technique is definitly improving. One thing I havent managed to avoid is taking more off towards the end of a board. I must be applying downward pressure as I reach the end of the board rather than just pushing the plane uniformly forward and off the end. At the moment I'm compensating for it by turning the board around but that's a pain going against the grain.

Anyway, I made that a nice tight fit in the bench...

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Then drilled the holes for the Benchcrafted plaining stop/spike (whatever it is called)

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Then that was done, but I didn't like the look of the stop being proud of the block, so I decided to put a notch in for it.

The first attempt at that was a total cockup...

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That's the first time I've tried to chisel out end grain and it wasn't a pleasant experience! My second attempt turned out much better after resharpening and being more patiant...


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I made a bit of a mess notching the teeth into the bench. I might just cut that bit square at some point...

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Next, I cut the bench to length...

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and then flattened the top going across the top with my #5 1/2

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I was knackered after this and it took way longer than I expected. To my eye, the planks looked pretty level with each other to start with. As soon as the straight edge came out it was a never ending job going up and down it finding problems everywhere.
 

SteL

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I gave the top a tidy up after planing across the grain and rounded off the sharp edges. I will give it a final flatten right at the end...

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Next, with some much-needed help. was to flip the beast onto its top and then make and fit the running gear for the vice.

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Then while it's being moved about, get it onto its side and plane the top flush with the side and then square the side to the top.


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Next was to make the face of the vice. This was a bit of a pain and it brought me back down to earth on where I'm up to and my skill level. I posted on here to get some help with this bit and got some great feedback and tips...


Anyway, after choosing a piece I liked the look of, taking the twist out, flattening it and squaring it I went on to wreck it. On the video series, Richard says it should be a tighter than usual fit on the double mortise and tenon joint. Having no experience, It's hard to reference what that means. In all fairness, he showed his going in with light taps. I already wasn't happy with mine because I had some small gaps on the front.

So out of frustration, and with mighty thor blows, I knocked it in and all of a sudden it just went in. I won. Pleased with my work I looked around it

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As it was getting on I thought I'd just choose another front and prep it ready for marking and cutting the next day. That is what caused me to have so much trouble with the next attempt. After posting on here for help, the consensus seems to be that the timber may have moved. I should've prepped it then worked on it - not leave it overnight to move about. I'll try to remember that in future!

Anyway, the second attempt was much neater and I was happy enough...

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the issue was when trying to hammer home the tenon. One side wouldn't go flush to the face.

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That's when I discovered the face may not be flat anymore...


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and a great tip from Peter Sefton was to stick something through the mortise and test it for squareness. That's when I found one of the inside faces was out...

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After fixing those issues and cleaning up the shoulders, it seemed close enough to have a go at doing a dry fit.
 

SteL

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The vice went together great. I had to slightly adjust the running gear and it ran very smoothly. It also held nice and tight even though the guide bar isn't glued up yet.

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The quality of that screw had me imagining the whole bench made out of maple - it'd be indestructible!

The whole point in this thread was to help anyone looking to build the bench from the video series on The English Woodworker website. I found a similar thread on here that helped me avoid a couple of cockups. So at the end of the series, Richard says if he could change anything, he'd move the planing spike to the other side of the vice - basically at the end of the bench. So I did just that. Now I've already realised the large wooden hub on that vice screw is in the way of a nice smooth planing motion. If you're using a metal vice as most people seem to do, this wouldn't be a problem. I don't have a solution to this - just something to think about. Maybe I'd make the bench longer so the plaining stop was further away from the vice - maybe put it where Richard has his. My bench is only 7ft long, though. I'll probably drill a dog hole the other side of the vice and use that for smaller timber and use the planing stop for longer lengths- or just get used to moving around the vice.

Talking of dog holes, that was the next job... litter the top with holes. I did intend to do everything on this build by hand, but I have to admit I used an electric drill for this bit. After some deliberation, I decided on some holes 12 inches from the front and some along the back to hold a batten.

I nearly made the cockup to end all cockups by putting a hole right where the vice screw was. You can see where I've crossed it out and wrote the word no! on it...


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I then got some help to put it onto its side again and drilled some 19mm dog holes into the front. And that's where I'm up to now!

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I've ordered some dowl and jaw lining to glue up the vice front and get that finished, some epoxy to waterproof the feet, some boiled linseed oil and white spirit to finish it off. Not much more to go.
 

AndyT

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Great thread. Real practical experience of a learner, taking on useful advice from forum members.

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to write this up. I'm sure you will soon have a really good bench and a much increased level of skill and confidence.
 

SteL

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superb! seriously well done, you should be very proud of that bench. 👏
Thanks. I'm very pleased with how it has turned out. I just want to get the last few bits finished, then I can't wait to get cracking on something new and put the bench to use. I think I'll go for something a bit smaller and lighter for the next project. Has anyone on here ever made a dovetailed box I wonder...
 

SteL

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Well, the bench is finally finished now. Like a blank canvas waiting for me to fill full of hammer blows and saw marks!

I only had a few things to finish off...

1) Drawbore the vice runner tenon. I used a pre-made rod for that. The only issue I had was finding an auger bit the right size. That had me digging through a stash handed down from my grandad. It wasn't in the best of condition.

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2) Next, I tipped the beast over again to apply epoxy to the feet.

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3) then glued the crubber jaw lining onto the vice

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4) Then 3 coats of BLO/Turps. I even did the underside (don't ask me why)! That left a nice finish, though...

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All done!

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I've since read the Anarchist's Workbench. I thought it was a bit stupid reading it after I've just finished the bench, but I enjoyed it and It didn't make me want to start over. Overall I'm very happy with the outcome and have learned quite a bit along the way thanks to the video series on the English Woodworker and from people on here. Thanks.

I'm almost through the Anarchist's Tool Chest book now and I think that will be the next project on the cards.

Cheers
 
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AndyT

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Brilliant! I'd be really pleased to have made that. I'm sure it will last you many happy years.
 

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