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Thread: AWB workbench - a few options

  1. #16
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    I think you'll be able to do 100% of what you want with the leg and tail vise. It's a good plan.

  2. #17
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    Thanks Aaron!


    ----

    I was dreading trimming the top laminations... my circular saw sucks for precision work... I don't own a great hand saw, nor am I proficient at freehand cutting for a joint that will be highly visible... the slabs are too big to take to my table saw... miter saws are finicky to get "just right"....

    Since it's just one cut (for now... more of these to do later... but still a small volume) I ended up using the miter saw and just fussed with it until I got it perfect. The cut went smoothly and resulted in a square end. YAY!

    Then, I carefully laid out the tenon that the wagon vise end cap will attach to. Marc S. uses his festool track saw to make the shoulder cut, and then a bunch of chisel work and a little hand saw work to finish the job.

    But, again, my circ saw sucks for precision work, and all the other problems I noted above. So, I decided to spend a bunch of time temporarily affixing a support block to the end and a fence to run my router along. It made quite a mess in my shop, but I got the task finished as planned. (still need to clean up the tenon with chisels / plane, but you can get the idea).

    Tonight I hope to start the mortise in the end cap - I will again use the router (this time with an edge guide).
    Attached Images Attached Images
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  3. #18
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    Bob's confessions of mistakes so far (all of which are able to be "saved" and workbench will still be beautiful and functional.. just won't be as nice as, say, Jim's :-)


    Mistake 1: Almost, but not quite, perfect "slab" = almost, but not quite, perfect tenon

    I rarely work with lumber this big and heavy, and have decided that "perfect is the enemy of good" in some cases. I have the tiniest out-of-square elements in existence in my top slabs, but found that with my tools and level of skill that I would be chasing my tail to get it even closer (say, as close as I'd get a normal piece of furniture).

    Honestly, I think the impact of this overall will be negligible once the project is complete and my tank of a workbench is in place and working wonderfully. But it does cause some angst along the way.

    Most notably so far, is that my front slab tenon is ever so slightly not perfect since the surfaces my router rode along are ever so slightly out of square. Basically, the bottom shoulder isn't as good as the top shoulder.

    So, my end cap fits tightly and very securely, and the visible joint is nice looking..

    workbench end cap fitting1.jpg

    But I'll always know that this ugly beast is hiding in the shadows of my learning curve. (I plan to fill before assembly)

    workbench end cap fitting2.jpg



    Mistake 2: Not following all instructions perfectly

    In the first image above, you may notice a decorative addition to the bottom edge of the end cap... this is a save that was necessary due to me not reading the fine print.

    While tables can be thicker/thinner, the BC tail vise requires that the end cap itself be an absolute MINIMUM of 4" (and my top is 3/16ths less than that) else the "flange" that gets affixed to the end cap will drop below the cap surface.

    Since the screws holding the flange will be securely in good wood, and the miss is soooo slight, and I otherwise like the walnut end cap (and that's just about the end of my walnut supply)... I decided to add a small trim piece in just that specific area.

    The hand wheel will obscure this area, and it's non-functional. Just another reminder of being a newbie and having a lot to learn. This one, I will notice every time I open my shop door and will remind myself to measure twice and cut once each time. Taking my medicine!!



    Mistake 3: Router slippage causing deepening cuts

    This one I don't consider my fault really...

    During an important cut (deep, long rabbet to accept the tail vice main screw) I noticed the depth of cut was getting deeper. Luckily, my outside and inside cuts (the ones that are seen and affect function) were achieved before the issue, so the "slop" will have no impact (other than wounding my ego).

    I initially assessed the cause of the issue to be that the plunge trigger was slipping (which I think may be true too, but ultimately was not the cause I don't think). By ensuring the trigger was fully returned to the "stop plunging" position, I found that the base was totally immobilized and figured my problem was solved.

    But, as I started my end cap mortise work, I noticed the slippage again. Luckily I noticed it before major problems or damage to the piece. At that time, I swapped out the collet for another that I had on hand, and was able to finish the work without further incident.




    SMC... thank you for hearing my confessions... are my sins forgiven? or am I a total hack?
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  4. #19
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    Well after my confession-of-mistakes post, I had a more positive outing today. Thank goodness.

    I had prepared the dog hole strip of lumber previously (three pieces of black walnut, from a tree that used to be on our property, laminated together), and was excited to see it officially take its place at the front of the slab.

    First, I clamped it in position so I could figure out dog hole placement, and then I used my drill press to make the holes. I drilled from the top side almost through, until I could see the point of the bit just poking through... then flipped the piece over to finish the holes. Was able to achieve zero tear out using this approach.

    To glue up, I taped both sides of the joint to minimize glue cleanup, and used some stop blocks in various locations in order to achieve a flush top surface once completed. Happy to report that no sanding or further prep is needed.. top and bottom surfaces are dead on flush.

    Next, the end cap uses "barrel nuts" from Benchcrafted to pull the assembly tight to the tenon and the slab. On the end cap, I carefully drilled counter bore holes for washer and both heads, and then through holes using the drill press - initially the holes were exactly the thickness of the bolts. Then I put the end cap in place, and used the holes from the drill press work to guide me in drilling into the top slab. The underside of the slab gets two larger holes that intersect with the holes for the bolts - the barrel nuts fit into these holes so that you can hold them with one hand while threading the bolt in with your other hand. To finish the work, the holes for the bolts were enlarged a bit to allow for wood movement.

    Tomorrow, a large pair of dovetails is on the agenda. I'm looking forward to and dreading that.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  5. #20
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    You certainly have inspired a world of good information. I wish I had had all this when I built my Roubo.

    First lets deal with the blessing. "Bless you my son, you are forgiven". Just a Presbyterian Elder, but I guess that will do because your sins are so very minor.

    In 2006 I built the roubo from Schwartz's first bench book. I followed the design pretty closely, my bench is heavy. Material wise I scored a 5 1/2" T x 11 1/2" W x 16' - 3" L house log from a new construction here in the neighborhood, so an 8' bench. Downside it had the pith in it. Window cut outs made the legs and stretchers. 5" for the legs. Construction went well. I used a pattern vise on the front and a twin screw from Lee Valley as the end. The twin screw also serves as an end vise lined up with dog holes. I have a leg vise on two other benches and love them so didnt need another. This bench in awesome, never moves even a fraction of an inch. I haven't found anything wrong with the design of this bench and it fills my every need. You will really enjoy your new bench. One thing I struggled with on my bench, I couldn't get the joint on my top to be as good a I wanted. After scratching my head a lot, I routed a 1/2" groove over the joints and inserted a walnut strip as an accent. I made a dumb move, the new bench was upside down on the older bench, it was late at night, no help around, and I really wanted to see that bench on it legs. It looked as good as I thought it would. Enjoy yours, please a picture of the finished project.

  6. #21
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    I had the AWB (Chris Shwarz's Anarcist Work Bench) on order before this thread was started. Since them my copy has come in, and I have read it.

    The main difference I see is in his last book (which I can't find on my shelf but I think it was c 2001) he advocated for through mortises in the top, so there was inescapably endgrain at the top of each leg exposed on the bench top. In the 2020 AWB he advocates for stopped leg motises in the top so the tops of the legs (end grain) are not part of the bench top.

    I am at the time of year with dry air that my benchtop has shrunk, so the endgrain is a little proud, but in a few weeks, maybe 10-12 weeks, it will pass through flush and soon I will have a little saw dust catching depression at each corner of my bench, again.

    I really like the idea of a uniform benchtop. My leg mortises are the same distance back from the bench face as I like to plane, in the summer, no problem, the work spans the little hole in the bench top with the end of the leg down in it. This time of year I have to move my work either on front of, or behind, that bit of leg sticking proud. Yes I could plane it down a little more and have a deeper hole in the summer. I don't want to.

    My sense of the thing is my Doug Fir bench top (laminated 2x4 construction lumber) shifts less than 1/4 inch vertically with the seasons. I think it is about 1/8, might be 3/16s, is less than 1/4. And I have extreme humiditiy swings here, I routinely see RHs in the single digits through the heating season everywhere in the house, and 70-80% RH for extended periods in the summer. Your bench probably moves less than mine.

    Having uniforn edge grain or whatever you can glue up for a top is, I think, a desirable goal. No end grain leg tips is a place I would like to go with my next build.

    I would like to hear from some furniture makers here. I built my first bench reading CS online and getting books about timber framed buildings from my local library. The book I mentioned above that I can't find tonight came in after I had committed to my design.

    So consider a top at 5" thickness nominal. In his 2020 book Chris left 2" of bench top thickness above the mortise holes for the leg top. Sounds good to me, that thing can be flattened and flattened and flattened, my great grandchildren might break through and see the tops of the leg tenons. Next I want to leave a quarter inch of air space in there so as the seasons change in winter the top isn't hanging by the drawbore pegs, and in summer the increased thickness of the top is trying to snap the peg by pressing on the endgrain at the top of the leg.

    5 inch thickness with 2.25" above the tip of the leg tenon only leaves a leg tenon 2.75" proud of the shoulder, and it needs to be drawbored to keep the benchtop down on the shoulders of the leg tenons during dry season.

    There isn't enough relish left in that tenon, even dropping down to 5/8" pegs, to build it like a barn. If you go 2 peg diameters up from the shoulder for your centerpoint, and then drawbore about 1/8 you will leave 1/2 of facegrain on the mortise, but only 1 5/8" relish between the tenon hole and the tip of the tenon. For buildings that won't do, 3 inches of relish would do. Benches dont get snow load and wind load, but they do get beat on with mallets.

    What do you all with more furniture experience than me think? 5/8" diameter peg, drawbored about an eighth with only 1 5/8" relish? Could you push that bench around your property with the front bumper of your truck and do no harm to the bench? Are we in "it depends what wood you use for the legs" territory? In every system, something is going to break first; I do understand that.

    At OP, you do not need to apologize for learning as you go. If you keep learning as you go you will get better and better. If you someday think you know it all I will start ignoring you.

  7. #22
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    I did just go measure my bench top. I used half inch pegs, have 2 inches of relish and could push my bench down a freeway with my truck and not worry about relish failure in the joint.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Parris View Post
    You certainly have inspired a world of good information. I wish I had had all this when I built my Roubo.

    First lets deal with the blessing. "Bless you my son, you are forgiven". Just a Presbyterian Elder, but I guess that will do because your sins are so very minor.

    In 2006 I built the roubo from Schwartz's first bench book. I followed the design pretty closely, my bench is heavy. Material wise I scored a 5 1/2" T x 11 1/2" W x 16' - 3" L house log from a new construction here in the neighborhood, so an 8' bench. Downside it had the pith in it. Window cut outs made the legs and stretchers. 5" for the legs. Construction went well. I used a pattern vise on the front and a twin screw from Lee Valley as the end. The twin screw also serves as an end vise lined up with dog holes. I have a leg vise on two other benches and love them so didnt need another. This bench in awesome, never moves even a fraction of an inch. I haven't found anything wrong with the design of this bench and it fills my every need. You will really enjoy your new bench. One thing I struggled with on my bench, I couldn't get the joint on my top to be as good a I wanted. After scratching my head a lot, I routed a 1/2" groove over the joints and inserted a walnut strip as an accent. I made a dumb move, the new bench was upside down on the older bench, it was late at night, no help around, and I really wanted to see that bench on it legs. It looked as good as I thought it would. Enjoy yours, please a picture of the finished project.

    It's funny because over the years, just about everything I have ever learned has come from finding other good examples to (at least initially) mimic. "Imitation being the most sincere form of flattery" sort of thing. From basketball and music through barn building and furniture making, it has always made sense to study what has already been figured out. Thank goodness (and thank all the content creators) the format of learning from others has become increasingly accessible.

    Thank you for the forgiveness too :-) I always see all these completely perfect projects, and often wonder if anyone else ever messes up. Glad I haven't confessed myself out of a hobby Ha ha!

    (I actually like your 1/2" groove to hide a problem joint solution... that is now a trick that will be in my back pocket to mimic in the future should the situation ever arise).

    OK, wish me luck... off to try "condor tails" (the funny name that was coined for the huge dovetails used in this bench build). I'm about 50/50 on whether I'll end up ruining my end cap and having to start again, or whether I'll actually be able to accomplish it.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Winners View Post
    At OP, you do not need to apologize for learning as you go. If you keep learning as you go you will get better and better. If you someday think you know it all I will start ignoring you.

    :-) No worries about me becoming a know-it-all... I think, in life, literally the most important thing I ever learned is that there's no end to the learning. Pick any topic, and I find that's true.

    Interestingly, I figured that out around the same time that I wised up and figured out that my elders (parents, mentors, supervisors) had lots of good information stored up from all their extra years of experience. What a wealth of good information I discovered once I got past my own ego and wanting to be the smartest guy in the room.

    (Edit: and on some rare topics where I have built up some know-how, I try to be a willing sharer of information, just as others have been willing to share with me.. pay it forward sort of thing)

    Also... I agree with your comments about the through tenons for this application... I wouldn't want the legs poking through my top either (and especially not in your case where the wood movement is such an issue).
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  10. #25
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    Got my "condor tails" (named by Benchcrafted / Jameel due to their large size) cut today. I've never done dovetails this big before, never used a chisel before, never free handed a router before, and never used a taper sled on the band saw before.

    In other words, I was really nervous about this.

    It was recommended to use about a 7 degree angle to draw the dovetails, so I did that first. Then I built a taper jig for use at my bandsaw that was helped me guide my piece at that angle. This worked really well, and then I used a hand saw to remove excess material on the outsides, and a chisel to remove the material in between the tails.

    worbench condor tails 1.jpg


    Then, I chamfered the back side of the tails and used a razor blade to trace the shape onto the end cap. The chamfer allowed me to get the razor blade very close to being in the exact same plane as the sides of the tails. I started hogging out all the material using my router with depth set appropriately. I just continually plunged until most material was gone. I was too nervous to do anything other than plunge like this.

    workbench condor tails 2.jpg


    Then I used my chisels to clean it up. This was a pain because my chisels are hardware store quality, and I have not learned to sharpen yet. I have a nice chisel and sharpening stone coming in the mail, but couldn't delay.. so I just went for it. Honestly, not terrible for my first time ever using a chisel.

    workbench condor tails 3.jpg


    After some fiddling, I was able to get the assembly together. It fits more nicely in the socket than it does at the surface, and is very solid/strong and functional. If inspected closely, my novice skill levels on this task are clearly displayed... but I'm going to call it "not bad for a first timer, and plenty good enough for my own personal workbench".

    workbench condor tails 4.jpgworkbench condor tails 5.jpg



    Today's confessions:
    - As I completed final surfacing of the front lamination to prepare for this dovetail work, I trimmed it 1/4" too thin... therefore needed to glue another piece on and do a bunch of rework.

    - When precision trimming my end cap to length, I cut on the wrong damn side of my pencil line, and therefore it's about 1/16" too short, and my dovetails therefore at 1/16" proud of the end cap surface. I will somehow make them flush (likely with a flush router bit).

    - I got a little fast and loose with the razor blade when marking the shapes and have a couple wayward lines that I wish weren't there.

    - While I'm satisfied with the results in this case, waiting a couple weeks for the better chisel and sharpening stone would have made it go so much easier and better. But, I just couldn't lose the time. So call this mistake "impatience".
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  11. #26
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    Big milestone!!! I finished the top last night.

    I carefully installed the vise making sure to follow all the instructions carefully (and Jameel sent me some email responses that were helpful too) and got it working very smoothly on the first try.

    I smoothed out the "proud dovetails" scenario mentioned above.

    And, I cut both slabs to length. Ended up being about 6'2" long.

    The surfaces are very flat and consistent and damn near perfect 90 degrees in all directions. This was hard.

    Starting the legs tonight.

    (Edit, the end cuts in the slab left about a 1/64th "ripple" from the cut... will sand out easily)

    workbench top finished.jpg
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  12. #27
    Those slabs look great. Good work Bob! Keep it up!

  13. #28
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    Thanks Derek!

    I feel like this project is many things for me... a learning opportunity, a proving ground (i.e. that I can tackle and accomplish it), and ideally a tool builder that will be useful in my shop for decades. This last part is the most important part... if the bench is terrible, it won't make a useful tool.

    So far, I feel like there will be a lot of utility, and I'm definitely learning a ton... not sure I'm proving much though (other than that I make a lot of freaking mistakes ha ha ha).



    Edit: Also, in post #18 above, mistake #3 was that the flange of my tail vise main screw would overhang the bottom edge of my end cap... Turns out it landed PERFECTLY at the edge, so my decorative add-on solution was able to be removed for a cleaner look. Sometimes better to be lucky than good I guess.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  14. #29
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    Looking nice

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Riefer View Post

    [/B]3) He likes 1" dog holes... but I feel like I've seen many here say they prefer 3/4". Is there consensus on this, or is it "pick one and go with it"?


    Thanks!

    Bob R.
    I truly hate the 1" dog holes on my Sjobergs bench. I had a machinist friend of mine make some bushings for me to reduce them to 3/4", but there are almost no accessories / hold downs, etc... for that size except for ones made by Sjobergs.

    For the bench I'm just finishing, people were strongly recommending 20mm dog holes. More available accessories for them. 3/4" certainly a good option too. I'm probably going the 20mm route.
    - When God closes a door, he opens a window. Our heating bill is outrageous & six raccoons got in last night. Please God, this has to stop!
    - I wanna hang a map of the world in my house. Then I'm gonna put pins into all the locations that I've traveled to. But first, I'm gonna have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won't fall down

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