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Monster Bench...(Part III)

Friday, March 26th, 2010

The next phase of construction on my new woodworking bench, fabricating the Oak top, is now complete. For years I had been saving quite an inventory of custom-sawed ", 1" & 1" Oak for the top and I finally got the opportunity to use it. I decided to make the top approximately 3" thick and, for this bench, without any vises of bench dogs. I say "this bench" because in the future I will be building an even larger bench with 2 end vises, a shoulder vise and rows of bench dog along each side. Needless to say, I still wanted to incorporate the traditional tool tray along one side.

I started by ripping numerous boards to 3" wide and squaring one end on the radial arm saw. I didn't worry about jointing either edge because I'd be flattening the top later in the process. To simplify the process, and since my heavy-duty thickness planer only has a 13" width capacity, I started by glue-laminating 4 individual sections ranging from 8" - 10"  wide. Glue was applied with a 3" wide roller and each section clamped and allowed to dry overnight. Each section was then planed to a uniform thickness and the 4 segments were then glued together to form the whole top.

Once the top was in rough form I tried to use a traditional  approach to flatten it; namely get out my Bailey #8 jointer hand plane and plane it flat, checking periodically with winding sticks. However, it immediately became apparent that the Oak was tearing no matter which direction I planed.  Instead, I elected to use a router technique to flatten the top. I screwed 2 perfectly straight pieces of wood to the sides of the top and made a sled for my router. The sled would slide up and down the length of the bench and the router would slide within the sled. With a straight router bit the top would be flattened as I moved the router side-to-side.  Figures 1-4 below illustrate the jig I used to flatten the top and various stages of completion.  

woodworking bench     woodworking bench     woodworking bench

Figure 1                                          Figure 2                                           Figure 3     


     woodworking bench    

Figure 4  


Once the top was flattened it was flipped over and the sled rails were re-positioned to ensure parallelism between the top and bottom. The other side was then flattened using the same procedure. Next were the ends and rather then use a straight-edge and circular saw I again turned to my router. I made several passes with the router, lowering the bit approximately " with each pass until the edge was clean and trimmed square. Figures 5-7 below illustrate this process. 


woodworking bench     woodworking bench     woodworking bench

Figure 5                                          Figure 6                                           Figure 7


With both surfaces, sides and ends flat, parallel and square to each other it was time to concentrate on the tool tray.  The construction is simple and consists of a " thick bottom made from 2 pieces of edge-glued Oak, 2 sides (the inside piece is 5/4" Oak and the outside piece is 6/4" Oak) and 2 end pieces made of 5/4" Oak. The pieces were glued and screwed together and the assembly was attached to one side of the bench top using large lag screws. Figures 8-10 below illustrate the tool tray.


woodworking bench tool tray     woodworking bench tool tray     woodworking bench tool tray

Figure 8                                          Figure 9                                           Figure 10


The top was positioned on the base frame and after precise positioning was secured using 3" lag screws through the angle brackets. Although a purist would not approve, I eased the top edges of the bench slightly with a 45 chamfering bit to prevent splintering. The top was brought to a fine finish using a hand scraper and a lot of elbow grease. Figures 11-13 below illustrate the bottom of the bench and the finished bench top.


woodworking bench      woodworking bench     woodworking bench

Figure 11                                          Figure 12                                         Figure 13



If you have any questions or comments about this blog entry please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail. Thanks and be safe when working with tools!!!




burgie picture

Robert Burgoyne, also known as "Burgie", has been doing woodworking for nearly 30 years. He started learning at an early age in his grandfather's garage and continued while working with his father in construction. The hobby has now become a business with Creative Landscape Accents. Burgie builds  high quality woodworking projects for the outdoors and also enjoys making decorative accent pieces for inside the house. While not working in his shop doing woodworking Burgie enjoys computers, restoring his old 1964 Chevy C60 2-ton dump truck and riding his Harley-Davidson Road King throughout beautiful Colorado.



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