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Thread: Small heavy Workbench, inexpensive

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
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    19

    Small heavy Workbench, inexpensive

    Top is 24x48 inches, 34" height. Should come in at or near 130 pounds once it dries out, a bit heavier right now. I laminated 2x4s for the top, used 4x6 green Doug fir for the legs and stretchers.

    In metric that would be roughly, 61 x 122 cm top, 86 cm tall, 59 kg. 5x10s for the lam, 10x15 timbers for legs and stretchers.

    For all the lumber, plus $20 vise from the BORG and 2 pints of TBII I am out $94.

    I intend to use this table as a dedicated sharpening station once I outgrow it as a bench, should hold my belt sander, bench grinder and stones no problem, with saw vise and etc on the low shelf.

    As you can see, there are some unresolved issues at this point, not least of which is my pics got rotated on me. If you rotate both images 90 degrees anti clockwise, or tip you head onto your right shoulder.... I have it upside down on the sawhorses. So if you stand on my ceiling you can see the bench floating right side up.

    I put 8" overhang at the left end of the bench, but put the legs at the right end of the bench flush with the end of the top for stability.

    I haven't cut the mortises in the top yet, or cut tenons onto the tops of the legs. I am planning to use some kind of bridle joint on the right end, with shouldered inlet dovetail braces where the chisels are propped.

    I do have some very well seasoned 4x4 spruce timbers, about five years seasoned outdoors covered. I am thinking with a 2" shoulder to keep the legs from getting pushed in, and a two inch thick inlet dovetail to keep the legs from getting pulled out from under the table I will have done what I can do. My thinking is the wet Doug fir legs will shrink more than the well seasoned spruce 4x4, so as the Doug fir dries it ought to clamp down on the inlet dovetail pretty hard. I am thinking a short brace on the front so I can get to the shelf easy. Longer brace on the back so I could add a bigger vise to that corner someday just inside the leg if I outgrow the little vise before I build a bigger bench.

    I have three questions, and yes I have Chris' book on order, the book is still two weeks out.

    1. Does it matter where I put the mortise for the right legs in the bench top or the tenon on the leg? I have been round and round the mountain on this one and have just about decided it doesn't matter.

    2. All my M/T joints are hand tight, but when I put the whole thing together I have to hammer the last joint the last half inch, and then the diagonally opposite corner opens up half an inch. I can get it closed with a ratchet strap or two. I suspect I should shave the joint that is the tightest because once the tops of the legs are in the bench top it is going to get harder to fit everything together.

    3. What is the correct search term to use here to find the existing discussion about where to locate peg holes in MT joints? I am sure the subject has been beat to death, but I haven't been able to find it.
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  2. #2
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    FWIW I did shoulder all the mortises in the legs. I am not so much worried about how much weight is going on the shelf so much as trying to 1. reduce racking and 2. stay heavy.

    All I did was flatten one face and one edge of each leg, and then work to the timber inside the timber, that is my nominal 4x6 were actually more or less 3 and 9/16 by 5 and 3/8. The tenons on my short stretchers are 3 inches, long stretcher tenons are 4 and 1/2. I didn't actually surface the legs s4s to 3 by 4.5, I cut the shoulders deep enough to expose that surface.
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  3. #3
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    Hi Scot and Welcome to the Creek.

    Looks like a great job so far on your bench.

    You might try searching > draw bore <.

    An inexpensive item you may want for your bench when it is used for sharpening is an automotive floor mat. They are inexpensive protection for the bench top when using water stones or even oilstones.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
    Scott,

    Your bench reminds me of my first bench build back in the '70s. BTW, it just retired to the back garden a little over a year ago. This is just a guess but from looking at your lumber I expect some of the boards are doing stupid wood tricks and are out of wind, causing the opposite joint to open when the base is put together.

    I believe you are asking about "draw boring" where you offset the holes drilled for using pegs to hold the joint together.

    I'm not sure I understand your question about the base to slab M/T.

    Good luck with completing the bench don't overthink it, as an example the last couple of benches I've built the base to slab joint is a 3/4" dowel glued in the base with the slab setting loose on the dowel.

    ken

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
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    I think this is a bridle joint... if I scooted the tenon over to be on the face of the bench it would be a half lap joint I think.

    FWIW this is far and away my most ambitious joinery project ever. Slab is still upside down on the sawhorses.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Hi Scott
    That's a good start into joinery. Just a couple of challenges;

    The top is going to expand and contract (mostly contract at first) so the stretcher joints are going to move, probably breaking some of the glue joints. Run some dowels or fasteners thru them and let it move a bit. Or glue only one side and dowel the other.

    You have left yourself a significant flattening exercise on that top. Take a first pass while it is still wet, it'll be easier. Second pass in a few months.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    Is that a 2 Barr Quarton chisel? If it is the straight bevel should be changed to a rounded one!

    Seems to to be coming alone just fine.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Fretwell View Post
    Is that a 2 Barr Quarton chisel?
    It is actually the one and a half. Came in with a square end on it. I love it as is for chopping. For paring, yes, a crowned tip would be better. It is truly a great tool, I am completely satisfied with it in every way, though I have only done a dozen mortises with it.

    I think I will come up with a slick before my next project with joinery this big. If I come into some dough I would snap up a Quarton slick without blinking an eye. Instead I will keep my eye out for a 2" wide socket chisel at a flea market and maybe crown the blade on that and work up a longer handle on my shaving horse. I don't need a $300 tool for a dozen tenons, in fact two of the last three I cut slid home right off the saw.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    Fairbanks AK
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post

    You might try searching > draw bore <.

    An inexpensive item you may want for your bench when it is used for sharpening is an automotive floor mat. They are inexpensive protection for the bench top when using water stones or even oilstones.

    jtk
    Thanks for the mat idea. I got one set of results searching on "draw bore" two words and some more results searching on "drawbore" one word. Thanks again.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bender View Post
    Hi Scott
    That's a good start into joinery. Just a couple of challenges;

    The top is going to expand and contract (mostly contract at first) so the stretcher joints are going to move, probably breaking some of the glue joints. Run some dowels or fasteners thru them and let it move a bit. Or glue only one side and dowel the other.

    You have left yourself a significant flattening exercise on that top. Take a first pass while it is still wet, it'll be easier. Second pass in a few months.
    These are some good points. I didn't clutter up the original post because I had the three specific questions I was stuck on.

    The 2x4s for the top lam were kiln dried at the BORG, weighted and stickered in my garage shop for about 6 weeks ahead of the build, and rotated weekly top to bottom. I am in Fairbanks, Alaska, my year round average EMC is 11%. My shop space is at a pretty stable 55dF and 10-15 % RH in the winter months. So winter EMC in the shop is about 4%. I did check the middle of the lam while I was chopping the mortises for the top, my meter only reads down to 7%, the top lam is drier than that. My top is likely to swell (slightly) during the 2 warm months we have each year up here.

    The legs on the other hand, green doug fir, that stuff is up in the 20s % MC. I know it is below FSP (fiber saturation point) because I have plenty of checking, but when I was cutting into those pieces there were plenty of spots where the wood still felt "damp" to my bare hands, so still well over 20% in places. The legs are going to shrink, some, for sure.

    I do think moisture content and shifting is an important area of bench construction that should get more attention than it often does in youtube videos and so on. Thanks for pointing it out to a noob. I do process about 10 cords of firewood annually up here and have a little bit of handle on the subject, but I do appreciate your trying to save me making an expensive mistake.

    I haven't actually posted a picture of the top surface of the lam yet. The bottom, yup, I spent a little time flattening it, but not much. My goal is to keep as much weight as possible on the small footprint I have available. I spent a bunch more time flattening the top. Rather, I spent a bunch more time chasing the top around the garage with a plane while the top was held to a couple sawhorses with some F clamps ;-)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
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    More stupid mistakes, but the haggis is in the fire now.

    The plan was to drill the holes for the pegs in the mortises, dry assemble everything, mark the tenons for drawboring, take it apart, drill the tenons, add a nailer to each of the long stretchers so I can have a shelf, and then go for it.

    Dry assembled with the peg holes drilled in the mortise pieces, it was abundantly clear my through holes were not square to any surface. The saving grace was I used a 12" long bit and drilled them all from one side, so the holes were straight through, just not square to any surface. I triple checked all the timbers were square, drilled the tenons through the existing holes, used way too much glue and pegged it up.

    Besides a heavy mallet for adjusting, I also used all four my ratchet straps (tow strap? load strap?) to hold it in place for drilling and glue drying.

    I will get my nailers in for the low shelf and get my pegs cut flush before the straps come off, then the corner braces.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Actually Barr tells you the crowned tip keeps the edge stronger for chopping and clearing out waste deep in a mortice. You can make the change gradually as you sharpen it by hand with no guide.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    South West Ontario
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    660
    When you have through mortices like that you can add a couple of wedges in the end of the tenon very easily to tighten up the end. I see one in the picture with a small gap. Everything you can do for softwood helps.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
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    I might drive some shims into the gaps in the joints, haven't decided yet.

    I did one diagonal brace and stopped there for now, it is on the right rear corner when the bench is ready to work. Like a collar tie towards the base of a rafter pair in a timber building to keep the rafters, and therefore the walls, from spreading apart under say snow load. Put the vise back on, and spaced the nailers on the long stretchers so I could use offcuts from whatever two by stock to make the shelf, I had plenty of scrap for that.

    And now I have a place to stash my shooting board and drilling guide and saw vise. It's awesome. Next step is to sharpen _everything_ .

    Thanks for your input everyone.
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Winners View Post
    I might drive some shims into the gaps in the joints, haven't decided yet.

    I did one diagonal brace and stopped there for now, it is on the right rear corner when the bench is ready to work. Like a collar tie towards the base of a rafter pair in a timber building to keep the rafters, and therefore the walls, from spreading apart under say snow load. Put the vise back on, and spaced the nailers on the long stretchers so I could use offcuts from whatever two by stock to make the shelf, I had plenty of scrap for that.

    And now I have a place to stash my shooting board and drilling guide and saw vise. It's awesome. Next step is to sharpen _everything_ .

    Thanks for your input everyone.
    Scott,

    Congrats on finishing the bench. Now work on that sucker until things about it drive you barking mad then build another. Trust me it can become addictive .

    ken

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