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Thread: Laminated or Slab Benchtop

  1. #16
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    For what I do, its extremely useful for me because it is totally flat, and I guess my workflow blurs the line between workbench and assembly table, which is another interesting topic to me, as I guess I don't really get how so many folks regard the workbench as so distinct from assembly table,
    Most of the time my bench is also the assembly table. If there is a possibility of dripping glue, then large pieces of cardboard are on hand to protect the top.

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

  2. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by William Fretwell View Post
    So Ken we agree that at around 3 & 1/2” Gramercy hold downs work well, with some small variation depending on the wood. I have used them on someone else’s bench at 2” and they were intermittent, frequent re-tapping required. Your Beech benches are a lovely hard wood for a bench and clearly agree with your hold downs!

    The angle of the hold down in the bench increases as the depth diminishes, the contact length and hence the area of steel and wood diminishes. The increased angle and decreased area will wear the hole more on a thinner bench top, especially on softer woods. Ironically this may initially increase the contact area but as wear continues the angle will continue to increase, requiring harder taps and creating even more wear.

    The quality of the hole will affect friction, a rough drilled hole such as a hand auger will have fewer contact points, a Forstner bit will provide a smooth hole and maximize contact with the steel. I would start with a Forstner then when it’s length is exhausted use the smoothest drill bit you have, or buy one. My bench holes are treated with 3 coats of smoking hot BLO.
    William,

    Yep, pretty much. In hard wood the smooth Gramercy hold fasts will work well between around 1 3/4" and 3 1/2" with no modification. A Blacksmith made hold fast will hold slightly better in that range of thickness. Smaller or larger I have no experience so not a clue.

    ken

  3. #18
    The holdfast in Roubo is very different from many made today. The arm of the hold fast tapers the whole way and is 1/8 to 3/16 at the end. Roubo says they should be very flexible. That way they don't depend so much on the spring of the wood or the roughness of the shaft to hold as much as their own springiness. The Gramercy can be improved by grinding down the arm to a thinner profile. Roubo shows the holdfast in a bench top that is 5 or 6 inches thick.

    Roubo valet.png

  4. #19
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    These holdfasts purchased from Harry Strasil (R.I.P.) have a 5/8" shaft with a springy steel blade welded on:

    Holdfasts w:Stanley #39.jpg

    They work well on my bench and on my saw benches with 2X construction lumber for the top.

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

  5. #20
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    I screwed up and got rid of a 2.75 inch bench of Poplar. Did a glue up since and didn't care for it as it was Pine. I decided to go with the Chris Schwarz 2 day build that is two slabs of butcher block counter top glued up. Back to a good flat 3" top with no blind dog holes. Have had it about a year and wish for nothing different. Hold fasts work perfect and the leg system is massive which I think adds another 60 lbs. It doesn't move. Several ways to get it done, that's for sure.

  6. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Erich Weidner View Post
    I don't really want a tool tray. I've not looked into a split top. So basically you are suggesting 2 slabs plus a filler thin piece?
    What about just 2-3 smaller slabs then? Or at that point should one just laminate a bunch of 8/4 or such?
    I built a bench this way. Three 18cm wide, 8cm thick beech slabs with 1.5cm gap between them.
    The global dimensions are 200cm long, 60cm wide, a little less than 8cm thick and little less than 100cm high; I prefer high benches.
    It was built for around 300 euros of raw material.
    I have build quite a few benches in the past, often on site, with construction grade timber, either pine or douglas fir, which are usually 6.5x18. I used a similar design, eventually longer but narrower. And much cheaper, 100 euros.

    Design wise, it has tilted legs, an apron on one side, a split top and lots of 20mm dog holes which handle the 19mm holdfasts nicely, with a slight sanding of the poles.
    Protip : don’t drill a 19mm hole for a 19mm pole in any top over 4cm.

    Whatever technique you use won’t change that you’ll have to flatten it to your tolerances afterward, once settled.

    Have fun!

  7. #22
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    Late to the party - please forgive the intrusion.

    I modified a laminated benchtop to accept a full length "batten" with center clamping access.

    It was more trouble than it was worth - most flat boards I plane are wide enough to clamp or reach a batten near an edge of the bench.

    I've migrated to a simpler laminated top with dogholes.

    If you already have access to seasoned slabs, that removes multiple glue joints.

    If the slabs are not seasoned, it will be a few years before they settle down, even in Texas.

    Grizzly sold laminated tops at one point, which were a good value. Beware sinking furniture building time into shop fixture time.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ken hatch View Post

    One more thought since you have not started your build. Depending of length of your bench, wood used, and design of the base (good design can make up for a lot of extra weight) anything over about 3 1/2" may be over kill and just add unnecessary cost to the build. But then there is the "hoot" factor and men do have a need to impress.

    ken
    I only need to impress myself. None of my friends will care, most don't get why I own "grandpa saws", wife doesn't have a horse in the race, but she's seen me watch the LAP Roubo build video so many times she might notice if I don't make the top reasonably thick.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Fretwell View Post
    My bench holes are treated with 3 coats of smoking hot BLO.
    So your bench has BLO Holes? (Sorry couldn't resist).

    But in earnest, What is BLO?

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erich Weidner View Post
    [edited]
    But in earnest, What is BLO?
    Boiled Linseed Oil

    BTW, a search on using BLO is what led me to SMC years ago.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 05-17-2020 at 1:04 AM. Reason: BTW, a search on using BLO
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  11. #26
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    Eric, as I believe someone mentioned up above, a one piece slab of hardwood in the thickness you mentioned (or even at 4" thick) is going to be monster heavy and difficult for a one-man move around during the build. It could be show-stopping difficult unless being able to rig some type of overhead lifting equipment.
    David

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Eisenhauer View Post
    Eric, as I believe someone mentioned up above, a one piece slab of hardwood in the thickness you mentioned (or even at 4" thick) is going to be monster heavy and difficult for a one-man move around during the build. It could be show-stopping difficult unless being able to rig some type of overhead lifting equipment.

    I've got a good friend who isn't a hand tool guy, but likes to hang out and help with projects (it is reciprocal). So that shouldn't be an issue.

  13. #28
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    Erich, if you can find a single slab of the size you want, then my suggestion is you build your dream bench. If nothing else it will be a satisfying experience every time you stand next to it.

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

  14. #29
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    My bench was my first project. Money was an issue so I glued up 2x4s. Once the legs were made and the top pieces put on I had a 3 foot by 5 foot bench. It took forever to plane flat. I'm buying slabs next time.

  15. #30
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    Brandon Berdoll at Berdoll Sawmill in Bastrop, TX may be able to assist you with a thick slab. Tell him that Scott Smith referred you.

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