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Thread: Prepping and laminating lumber for a benchtop

  1. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Assaf Oppenheimer View Post
    I was planing on flattening it with a router jig. I already planned on checking grain direction, I don't think I can check that on a rough sawn board before I buy it, or is there some sort of wichcraft I'm unaware of?
    After you’ve surfaced the boards. Look at the faces and check direction of grain sweep. Up and away is the direction you plane in.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    It has already been said, but if this is your first handplane project I would rethink using hard maple. It might be very tough planing. If it is not too late (boards already bought) there are many suggestions on alternative woods in the book you read by Chris Schwarz. I made mine in doug fir thinking I can always change the top later to ash or oak or whatever but I donīt think I will. The bench is great as it is and was not expensive.

  3. #18
    The idea of building a hard maple Roubo with mainly hand tools makes my whole body hurt. You might want to consider a different material if something else is available to you. My split top is made entirely from douglas fir (our local equivalent to southern yellow pine). While a softwood bench will not stay as pretty as one made from hard maple, there are a lot of other advantages that, for many, outweigh the cons. If bench weight is a factor, throw a bucket of sand or a dumbbell on the bottom shelf. I love my bench, but if I ever desire a hard bench, like someone else mentioned, itís a simple top swap at any point in the future.

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
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    Maybe use the same wood the Pharaohs used? Cedars from Lebanon? IF there is any left?

  5. #20
    Warren, would white oak be any better than hard maple?

  6. #21
    Lot of bench tops ,over time, will start to show some slightly open joints. But Iíve never seen one fall apart. The small openings are
    probably from ď compression ring setĒ . For brevity: too much wet cloth wipe-offs. I made my top from beech that was just air dried. NOT
    air dried and then kiln dried. After machining all the pieces ,yes MACHINING....I didnít have a bench !! I hand scraped the middle third ,to make the centers just a little hollow before gluing it all up
    The bench was used in the shop I was employed in for years . Now itís in my garage and still showing no
    open joints. Your kiln dried bench will be good, but use as little water as possible when cleaning up any glue ,all the factory made tops that
    Iíve seen had some open edges....too much water !

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Location
    Israel
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    Lol, I can get regional Cedar.

    I am actually considering switching to soft Maple or Euro Beech (the Euro Beech cost 70% of the maple(s)). there are a few unusual considerations for me. I live in an apartment building and my amazing fiancťe has agreed to let me set up in a corner of the living room. we will see if she leaves me when she realizes what she's gotten herself into with this.
    Honestly, I don't think I will have time to make a mess on a daily basis, so this idea might work. but if it is in the living room, the bench needs to be purdy...

  8. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Assaf Oppenheimer View Post
    Lol, I can get regional Cedar.

    I am actually considering switching to soft Maple or Euro Beech (the Euro Beech cost 70% of the maple(s)). there are a few unusual considerations for me. I live in an apartment building and my amazing fiancťe has agreed to let me set up in a corner of the living room. we will see if she leaves me when she realizes what she's gotten herself into with this.
    Honestly, I don't think I will have time to make a mess on a daily basis, so this idea might work. but if it is in the living room, the bench needs to be purdy...
    I don't know what Benchcrafted recommended, but Andre Roubo lived in Paris and recommended beech. European beech is almost all grown in highly managed forests. Trees with defects are culled with the result that the lumber tends to be straight grained with few defects. Beech is easier to work with hand tools and is much better at absorbing shock, maybe a little quieter for mortising in an apartment house.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Mickley View Post
    I don't know what Benchcrafted recommended, but Andre Roubo lived in Paris and recommended beech. European beech is almost all grown in highly managed forests. Trees with defects are culled with the result that the lumber tends to be straight grained with few defects. Beech is easier to work with hand tools and is much better at absorbing shock, maybe a little quieter for mortising in an apartment house.
    You are really making me second guess myself here - I think before I make up my mind ill go get scrap of hard maple and beech and see what I like to work more.
    thanks for the advise!

  10. #25
    If it were me, I would get whatever fairly hard wood is readily available. A softer bench - while it will dent easier - will also be more forgiving on the pieces you are working on. A bench will only stay as clean and nick free as the user cares to keep it. A softer wood can also be easier to keep flat. Cedar might be a little too light in mass though.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the glue up being perfect (apart from looks). Take reasonable care, but even if gaps appear, a lamination of this kind is incredibly strong and stable and will not affect the flatness or usability of the bench. My bench has some pieces that are quartersawn and some that are flatsawn. An error on my part. But the bench functions perfectly still. The laminations keep everyone honest. One thing I WOULD do is take time to keep the grain orientation in the same lateral direction of the bench. This will help with tearout when you flatten and reflatten.

    I think getting (X minus an inch or two off the ends to remove checking)/2 out of an X" long board is doable. I do it all the time. In your application - even more so. When a rustic appearance is not a show stopper, I can tolerate a minor check or skewed cut.

  11. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Assaf Oppenheimer View Post

    1) considering I am going to choose the boards myself, what a is a reasonable yield per a board? how badly am I deluding myself by thinking that a 137" board can supply 2 62" boards for the laminate? What about one 62" board and one 32" for the legs? how would you approach maximizing the useful lumber?
    First thing : as the Renaissance Woodworker says: best way to flatten a board is with a saw. In other words, if you have a 137" long board, and all you need is a 62" long board, never, never, never plane the 137" long board. Never. Saw it down to ~64", and suddenly your stock will be twice as flat as it was, but you won't have lost any thickness or width.

    - how many clamps should I get for a 62" lamination (62" x 12" x ~4 1/2")?
    I was taught clamping pressure radiates outward in approx a 45 degree arc, so you should be able to figure out exactly how many clamps you need. If you take the above-recommended strategy of just clamping a couple of boards together, then clamping those with another set of two boards, then clamping two sets of 4 boards together, etc, you'll need far fewer clamps, but take much more time. Getting the clamping force to clamp 12? 13? 14? faces of 2" maple together takes a lot of clamps. Getting the clamping force to clamp 1 set of maple faces -- not so much. If you can afford the extra days (you'll want to let the glue cure fully, a full day), you won't need to buy a ton of clamps, you won't need help along the way, and you'll be able to get a good result.

    Also, about the glue choice -- TB3 is a great choice, but probably not required. Unless you're going to get this bench dripping wet you don't need the water resistance, and the extra set up time won't be necessary either, since with the above strategy you'll just be doing one glue joint at a time -- piece of cake. TB2 will save you a few bucks, but getting TB3 is fine. Both will do a great job. Any PVA glue will probably do a good enough job.

    About the wood choice -- hard maple is a great bench choice, that's why Lie Nielsen makes all their benches out of it. Euro Beech, from a carefully managed forest, will probably be a fine choice, too. Hard maple is generally a more stable wood than Euro beech, but not by a big margin. As mentioned above, The Anarchists Workbench shows you can make a great bench out of construction softwood, so don't sweat the choice too much.

    Yes, hand planing hard maple is not easy, especially when you have a big area to do. In a way, that's a good thing. This is your first hand plane project, so you'll get tons of practice sharpening, and learning to take a light cut. Workbenches are very forgiving things -- nothing needs to be crazy precise, this isn't a Mars Rover, it's a workbench, and good enough is good enough. I think workbenches are the perfect first hand-tool-only project, because you'll get lots of practice sawing and planing, and if your results are not furniture grade, it doesn't matter, the workbench will still be fine and serve you for the rest of your life.

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    If it makes you feel any better when I built my bench (2014 I think), I really didn't understand, straight flat square and or how to make a board straight / flat.
    I literally ripped 2x12 fir into 2x3 size. I then planed the boards to a decent finish, but not really true or square. My bench top is 27" wide. I made a 16" & 11" lamination (split top) and while I have some gaps, they haven't opened up any further and TBH, the top is mostly covered in sawdust, shavings / something so they don't bother me in the day to day.
    I did end up using a bunch of clamps though to pull everything tight.

  13. #28
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Michigan
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    1,687
    A woodshop in the corner of the living room,,,in an apartment building,,,that's going to be challenging. Taking a wholistic look at the requirements involves storage of tools and materials as well as a work surface. And where can you run a router?

    As far as planing only with the grain,,,I think you are going to fail in that attempt and have to plane across and against it at times. I see a random orbit sander in your future.

    Please don't be discouraged, finding solutions to each small challenge is what make this a rewarding hobby.

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Location
    Israel
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    59
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bender View Post
    Please don't be discouraged, finding solutions to each small challenge is what make this a rewarding hobby.

    definitely not discouraged, Iíve been planing this for 7 years or so. Beyond appreciating the hand tool approach it will be much cleaner and quieter for me than power tools. When I do use power tools I have a balcony. I have a wall in my apartment 70 inches wide with nothing near it for 6 plus feet. My plan is to build the bench to the wall height, build a cabinet under the bench to store larger tools and jigs (and add weight), and put a wall cabinet over the bench for the majority of the hand tools. Iíll add a light under the cabinet.

    not ideal but the best I can hope for.

    and I plane to enjoy every minute I can doing it.

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