Posts Tagged ‘douglas fir’

This winter was a fairly productive one for me because I completed two major projects:  a doll wardrobe and (drum roll, please) my new workbench.  This workbench has been a long time coming:

  • In 2002, I started planning to build a workbench.  I bought some supplies and began working on a base, but I had to turn my attention to other projects and I never came back to it.  That base was eventually scrapped.
  • In 2004, I built a fully enclosed cabinet base for a Shaker-style workbench.  I then decided I didn’t like that style of bench, so I converted the cabinet into a miter saw stand instead.
  • In 2007, I built the actual base for this bench in fits and starts while I was working on another project.
  • In 2010, I finally completed the overall bench.

Wow… eight years.  That must be a record of some sort.  There just always seemed to be some other project that was higher priority.  For the past eight years, I’ve used a sheet of plywood on some sawhorses and (more recently) my table saw outfeed table as a bench.  Both solutions were less than ideal.

My workbench does not look like a piece of fine furniture.  It’s not made out of expensive lumber, it has no inlays or decorations, and it’s not named after a long-dead Frenchman.  Instead, I built a workhorse:  stout, simple, and spacious.

Both the top and the base are solid douglas fir.  I used a knockdown  base design; the whole thing is bolted together using lag bolts.  Someday I might move; if that happens, I’ll be able to break this monster down and bring it up out of my basement.  In the picture, you can see how the base is constructed and how the top is attached.  The top stretcher sits in a bridle joint at the top of the legs and is secured with lag bolts.  The top is attached with a single lag screw in the center, which allows it to expand and contract freely.

The bench top is 24” deep, 84” long, and 3” thick.  Flattening the top with handplanes was surprisingly easy… even for a newb like me; it only took me about 90 minutes from start to finish.  I used a jack plane to knock down the high spots first.  Then I gave my jointer plane a workout by planing across the grain, then diagonally, and finally with the grain to clean things up.  I ended up with a few areas of tearout, but I didn’t spend too much time worrying about it since this is a benchtop, not a dining room table.

I decided to use 3/4” round dog holes because they are more versatile than square dog holes.  I spaced the holes 3.5” inches apart.  I used Glen Huey’s router jig method for drilling the holes:  a plunge router, a simple alignment jig, and a 3/4” upcut spiral bit are used to drill as deeply as possible. I then finished the holes off with a 3/4” spade bit.

My front vise is a Record 52 1/2ED, and my end vise is a Record 52.  I bought both of these vises back in 2002 when Record was still in business, and they’ve been languishing in their boxes ever since.  It felt great to finally get them bolted to a benchtop.

Even though it was a lot of hard work and heavy lifting, I’m glad I built my own bench.  I enjoy working on it just a little bit more knowing that I built it myself… and I guess that’s something you can’t put a price on.

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