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Thread: Low boarded bench for mudroom

  1. #1
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    Low boarded bench for mudroom

    I am kinda at 6's and 7's here, but I am going with it. I have a plank of 4/4 American Beech 14 1/8 wide by 93 inches long. My younger boy wears a 13.5 American sized shoe. He is 31 years old and still hasn't "grown into" his feet. I want my son to feel at home and not a freak when he comes to visit. One thing I can do, as Dad, is provide a bench in the mudroom wide or deep enough to take his shoes too without him having to feel like some kind of freakish individual leaving his enormous shoes on the floor of my mudroom.

    The 14 1/8 inch beech plank I have is the widest plank of North American hardwood I have seen in a, well, decades. I am using it, full width, to honor both my son and the tree.

    I find myself choosing between Chris Schwarz's _Design Book_ 'Low boarded bench' and the 'Boot bench' in _By Hand and by Eye_ from George Walker and Jim Tolpin.

    I am going to kind of "mash-up" advice from both to make the best bench I can. One problem is Chris suggests using a plank species that 'doesn't move much in service,' but NA beech moves more than white oak in service. The finished bench, if it moves enough in service, may pull itself apart and end up in my BBQ pit where American beech is useful (if expensive) on poultry, good on shellfish, decent on wild caught salmon, and decent but mild on beef for those unfamiliar with smoked meats.

    I am leaving room in this post for a moderator to someday paste in a pic of the finished project. I am going for the "intermediate level" in Chris Schwarz's lexicon where there is a bunch of hand planing required to make this surface flat and that other surface flat and pretty, but with respect to the proportions identified by Walker and Tolpin.

    I do have, and should explicate, a great deal of respect for the old guys like 'Steve' who have a bad knee and decide daily if they have the juice to drop a fight of stairs, do some woodworking, and have enough juice left over to climb a flight of stairs rather than call the fire department to carry them home (upstairs one level). There is a bunch of disputable stuff in here, but the folks who keep trying and keep fighting are my heroes, my guides, and hopefully my (if I don't give up) future. I do want a single level forever home, but I have limited interest in pulling laundry detail for my similarly aged wife without significant infilling from the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts and memories.

    First step for me is to prep a shooting plane. The finished project is going to have a relative acre of exposed end grain. When you enter the door of my home, you are going to see something like 24 inches of exposed end grain first, and then the rest of the mudroom bench. I am leaning towards 1:1:1 linseed oil/ paint thinner/ polyurethane as a high wearing finish. I am going to use a high knob #6 as my shooting plane, with a PMV11 iron honed to 8k diamond.

    I am curious to know how many k diamond stone I need to pull a wire edge off my back bevel without disturbing the flat grey iron back Lee Valley shipped to me.

    Once I am done with this fool thing, the mods are welcome to move this thread to the projects section, with a pic of the finished project (that I am leaving room for) in post one.

    It is now December in Alaska. I am going to take a beech plank > 102 inches in length and greater than 5.5 inches width out to my driveway pad to rip to width using an electronic apprentice. This will otherwise be a hand tool 'only' project, but really a hybrid. The finished surfaces will be hand tool only; hopefully no sand paper baby Jesus as we prepare in Advent and celebrate during Christmastide your time on earth as a mortal man.

    I pray for both 'Steve' and Derek to have a blessed holiday season. I will knock this bench thing out as fast as I can. I have a full time job. The last time I worked general med/surg charge RN in Fairbanks,(yesterday) 9/20 patients on the floor were younger than me, 11/20 were not. May the Peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding (or whatever higher power) be with you both and with you all (all y'all) during this blessed season.

    Love to all, malice to none.
    Scott
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  2. #2
    Beech moves more than some other woods , but was commonly used for woodworking benchís. There was a lot of it and itís just-right
    for benches high and low !

  3. #3
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    Getting to be midday here, I go back to work tomorrow for three in a row; but just playing in the shop as much as I want today.

    This is a picture of a picture in Chris Schwarz' _Design Book_. It does show the pieces of the thing I am building, but I am going to moosh the proportions around here and there.

    20231202_101617.jpg

    The big wide plank I have is going to become the legs at each end and the actual seat surface, with about 6 inches left over for scrap. The board has three knots in it, but I can make two of them go away by ripping back about 3/8 inch.

    20231202_101512.jpg20231202_101538.jpg

    For the width of the front and rear planks I am going to use a proportion of the total height rather than an arbitrary inch width. At this point I need to commit to a finished seat height, as one of the front or rear planks needs to come out of the middl-ish of this end of the 6.5 inch plank.

    What I am saying is the target finished project part is going to have two eyes in the grain, connected by cathedral patterns. To get the eyes more or less on center I am going to have to rip both edges of this part, maybe even a little bit off plumb.

    20231202_101703.jpg

    At this point I name 17 inches as the finished seat height. I am going to go sprinkle some blue tape on my rough boards. I am going to go do something else for a little while. Later today, if I remain happy with my decision, I will drag my rough stock and an electronic apprentice out onto the driveway.

  4. #4
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    This is a picture of a picture in Chris Schwarz' _Design Book_.
    Glad you posted this image as Chris Cchwarz' Design Book isn't in my library, By Hand & Eye is.

    This looks like what some call a "Five Board Bench" with a shelf.

    Similar ones were made in my shop in the past to sell at a Farmers Market.

    100_5389.jpg

    This is actually a "six board bench." The top is hinged and the sixth board is set into the front and back rails to provide a small storage space.

    The project build can be seen here > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?214308 < There are some helpful hints included and the link to the Charles Neal video still works.

    My feeling is, with a little planning you will not have to worry about movement. For the most part your grain is all in the same direction. Where it isn't, on the front and back rail, The pilot holes for the cut nails can be drilled a little oversized to allow for vertical movement.

    One thing not mentioned is when using cut nails, they are placed in a vise and a cold chisel is used to raise a few burrs towards the tip to give them better holding power.

    100_5356.jpg

    The blue tap was put on the chisel to cut down the reflected light.

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

  5. #5
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    Well, it is minus 2 F out in the driveway today, about -18.9 C. I am just not feeling that ambitious today, so I got working on the two side planks.

    Having selected a finished seat height of 17 inches, I went ahead and made up a "standard" handspan out of a piece of furring strip, 8.5 inches long.

    So the height is two hand spans, the length is going to be 6 handspans -> 51 inches. From the front it will be one thing tall and three things wide. The problem is my wide plank is going to be 13.75 inches wide. I could rip it back to 2/3 of 17 inches, about 11 and a quarter. That would give the end view a proportion of 2w:3h; but the shelf would not be wide enough for my son's enormous shoes.

    I got to be judicious sprinkling ones and threes around the front, cause the end proportion is still going to be 14:17.

    Either way, my dividers and sector got an indoor workout today.
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  6. #6
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    I think I will end up cutting an angle other than 45 degrees on the bottom corners of the side planks. I did make up a template in parchment paper. I am pretty happy with the two planks pictured, one has very strong cathedral pattern I am not going to be able to conceal.

    20231202_133605.jpg

    The other side plank I have been staring at for too long. I think I am going with this gentle river, with the visual center of the larger eye formation about 1/3 from one end, and the minimum, the visual center of the area between the two eyes about 1/3 way in from the other end. I think it looks relaxing, without looking overdone or forced.

    20231202_133705.jpg

    I am going to have to work around some mill damage on the back side of this plank. I want to be sure of angle cut and leg spacing before I cut this one to length.

    20231202_133751.jpg

    Right now I need to get something to eat.

  7. #7
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    I woke up reaching for my calculator this morning. I didn't get it on the first try, but the proportion of the end of the bench was interfering with my sleep.

    If I start with a wide plank 13.75 inches and make the end view "a square and a quarter"; then I could say 13.75 x 1.25 = 17.1875 inch seat height. I feel a lot better about this.

    Also, it occurs to me today I should be proactive in case the footnote police stop by.

    The design I am starting from in this project is the 'Boarded Bench' in Chris Schwarz' design book. I said that already. I haven't had to type up my own bibliography since before the turn of the century. I used to be good at APA format, I bet they changed that around in the meantime, here is my best shot:

    Schwarz, C. (2019) _The Anarchist Design Book_. Chapter 21, pp 368, Lost Art Press, Covington, KY.

    There are three books in the "hand and eye" series, I am using the least expensive of the three for the smooshing around of Chris' dimensions.

    Walker, GR & Tolpin, J (2015) _By Hound and Eye_, Lost Art Press, Covington, Ky.

    I know Megan Fitzpatrick has (or had) a user ID here, though I haven't seen a post from her in at least a year. I hope to someday work my way up to the more sophisticated projects in the Hand and Eye books, but I ain't getting no younger.
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    Last edited by Scott Winners; 12-04-2023 at 1:57 AM. Reason: foot notes

  8. #8
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    Pretty good progress today. I got just about all my chores done to be ready to go back to work on Monday.

    I got all the stock rough cut to length, and jointed. I now have a reference face and a reference edge on all but one of the side planks. The last side plank is going to be cut out of the plank I have at an angle to the reference edge on the s3s board. The offcuts are going to the BBQ pit either way, I am just trying to get that center flowing grain pattern a little more level across the finished project.

    Plan for tomorrow is to rip my three wide pieces to width, and the one side plank with a reference edge to width, and cut the other side plank out on four sides. But I can start with the circular saw in the driveway at like 10 AM, because my mundane chores are done. The wide pieces are trying to cup on me, so they will go under as much weight as I can put together after they are ripped to width. I left my leg pieces plenty over long, but I am not interested in planing a 7/8 board down to half inch to make it flat.

    I did plane up two scrap pieces, nailed them together with three different kinds of old timey nails, and slapped on some linseed oil. I found some linseed oil with minimal additives here in town, but it takes about a week to dry at +70dF and 10-30% RH. I am going to try some other finishes on tomorrow's offcuts.

    Besides other finishes, I expect to spend some time on the sideplanks tomorrow after the wide boards are stickered and weighted.
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  9. #9
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    I should mention the shoe shelf is TBD, to be decided. I don't have enough wide plank to do that. I could glue up some more narrow Beech, but I don't want to. My current idea is to use some figured beech for front and rear shelf lips, maybe about 2.75" wide, and then build like a grid or grill or diamond pattern inside them in narrow white pine. I don't have that problem yet, but I would be willing to use something durable like polyurethane on the (high wear) shelf surface since it is likely to be a contrasting wood.

    I am ecstatic with my low angle bevel up Veritas plane on hardwood end grain. Lord of Goshen this thing is cool. I am running PMV-11 with a 30 degree secondary bevel (at guided 8k diamond) on a 12 degree bedding angle... It is like having Obi-Wan in the shop with me saying 'this is not the surface you are looking for.' Swish, swish, Obi-Wan smiles.

    I don't have to pick today, but I think using wrought headed nails will catch on somebody's pants someday. I do like the roseheads, leaning towards the clout style over common.

  10. #10
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    So again with the 0dF/ -18C driveway. I spent a bunch of time today cupping a coffee mug in my cold hands so I could get back out there and make another saw cut, but I am just about to the point I can do everything else indoors.

    The wide planks did relax a little bit when I ripped off the knotty edge. The worst one is cupping close to 1/8 inch, but I can squeeze it to flat with my arthritic old man hands. I have them stickered up under some heavy stuff and I will see if I can find some more 4x6 tomorrow. Those are going to stay in timeout until everything I can get done without them is done.

    I did rip the two long edges on the piece I wanted diagonally out of the piece I started with. One of those long skinny triangular scraps has already had its night of passion in my BBQ pit. And I have finally found a tofu recipe good enough to make a second time. 250 grams of tofu in 5/8 dice, spoon over 2T soy sauce, 1 T fish sauce and 1 t Worcestershire. Be gentle when spooning, as the apices of the cubes are pretty fragile. Soak about 30 minutes, air dry about 30 minutes, then bake at 350dF for about 45 minutes. As expected the beech smoke flavor on this item is not really detectable, but it would have been a pleasant serendipity if it had been.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Winners View Post

    ...a tofu recipe good enough to make a second time.
    This week's sign that the apocalypse is upon us.
    I feel a whole lot more like I do now than I did a little while ago.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kent A Bathurst View Post
    This week's sign that the apocalypse is upon us.
    Making people eat tofu sounds post-apocalyptic!

  13. #13
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    I am at the point where my reluctance to run a build thread here is well and truly upon me. What I am facing today and tomorrow is why I didn't want to start this thread. But there is no point in being disingenuous about the process either.

    Today, I drug my jointer out onto the driveway (at -20C) to make three passes on one edge of one board. But it was warm enough to snow, and it did snow on my in and out feed tables, so I 'lost' a bunch of potential production time doing preventative cleanup on the jointer. I took one of my plane irons all the way back to the bench grinder because the secondary bevel was 1/3 of the total bevel.

    I did make a practice class A cut on the scrap end of one of the side planks, and find I need to sharpen my carcass saw again. Last time I sharpened my carcass saw I recognized I was running out of tooth set, so I may have to set all those 14 teeth per inch when I do that. I also think I can make a shooting board more perfectly square than the one I have, so I might as well do that before I make the final class A cuts to bring the side planks to finished length.

    I am also going to make a saw guide out of quarter sawn something for when I get to making class A cuts on the ends of my 13.75" wide parts. So I need to make a new set of bench tools that can serve as bench hooks and shooting boards for stock wider than 14 inches.

    And I need a saw for the class A cuts on the wide planks. I have one, 26" plate, "Warranted Superior" button on the tote, 5 bolts, sure looks like a Disston, with a Craftsman imprint on the plate. It is a good straight saw. 11 teeth per inch, 13 degrees of rake, 18 degrees of horizontal fleam, none of vertical fleam, a basic cross cut recipe for fine work from Pete Taran. But it only has 7 thousandths of total set on the teeth, 3.5 thou per side. i am going to have to joint it and set it to perhaps more like 10 or 12 thou total, then sharpen it, and then be ready to proceed.

    And the linseed oil on my first nail up is blotchy. Thus, the practice class A cut to generate more scrap. I am feeling fair confident that the finish I want is going to be surfaces planed to guided 8k diamond, I am going to try an isopropyl wash at this point to reveal planing flaws, then a pollisior, then 1-2 coats of plain linseed oil, then wax #31 (3 parts beeswax, 1 part carnuba from Don's barn dot com) buffed to a fare thee well. If the grand kids chew on this piece they will get some fiber in their diet, but no deleterious health effects. I got to figure out why the linseed oil is blotchy, so I cut another scrap.

    I should be able to get rid of all three pictured pin knots from the side planks, the two on the right will go away on a square scrap, the one on the left will be on the corner of a triangular scrap.

    I did go to one homestore today, no 4x6 made it off the rack into my truck. I will visit the other local tomorrow.

    And, I got through my weekly allotment of rice and beans, boneless skinless chicken breast, and tofu, yesterday. Today is baby back ribs day, smoked on apple and cherry. I used "surprised spouse" dry rub. It is a permutation on "Southern Succor." In a bowl place 1/2 c paprika, 1/2 c turbinado, 4 T salt, 2 t cayenne flakes. In an electric spice grinder place 2t dry mustard seed and 1/4 c black peppercorns. At 0400 push the button on the electric splice grinder and hold it down until you hear your spouse screaming at you. Button time should be less than five seconds, there ought to be some intact peppercorns still in the spice grinder working bowl. Mix all that together, and proceed as usual (if sheepishly) with the cook.

    Obviously I am not banging this bench out as fast as I can. I would like to also say I am not trying to make this as complicated as possible. What I am trying to do is make this piece as well as I can. I want it to be the best thing I have ever made, and a spring board to making more better things in the future. There is a crap ton of sharpening involved, a crap ton of planning, a crap ton of planing, and a crap ton of time.

    Someday I will be starting a new project and looking sideways at the shooting board I am going to build tomorrow.

    20231208_204345.jpg20231208_204415.jpg20231208_204443.jpg20231208_204329.jpg

  14. #14
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    I feel like I had a good day, but I am doing ground work. What I recognize about my journey is I am still in learning curve, with no idea how far I am from peak.

    First I went to both home stores. I looked at all the 4x6, nothing came home with me. I did take apart and resticker and restack my wide planks. They are down to about 1/16 of cup now, I restacked them cupped side up instead of bow side up. I don't want them complacent with their current station in life, and I want them flatter. This will probably be ongoing.

    I got as far as I could with the surfaces on my new scrap with the tools I have. Not happy. I reached for my card scrapers (journey thingy) and realized the card scrapers are not as sharp as I can make them. So I need my metal working vise to file the existing curl off, but there isn't room for that vise anymore on my metal working bench because I have now the bench grinder up there with my sharpening stones.

    I found a 40" long scrap of 10 inch wide 8/4 poplar in my scrap cart, but I didn't have a saw as sharp as I could make it to cut the poplar clean...

    I have a hunch this doesn't ever end for anyone trying to improve. I have a couple dozen vintage saws. I have sharpened most of them, but have never been able to set any of them. What I have been doing is measuring and recording the set and just using them as sharp saws with whatever for set.

    Now was the time to set and sharpen the 11 point saw I mentioned yesterday. I dug through my library of saws and found one with 10 thousandths of total set on it. I clamped that one up in a vise and dialed in saw set to match that set, then set the teeth on the 11 point saw I want to use, then jointed those teeth, then sharpened that saw (I was having fun today, promise), and made a few test cuts.

    For the first test cut I pulled a 3-4-5 triangle off the end of a 2x "4" without doing any math. Second I pulled 10 inches off my 40" poplar so the seat of my next shop stool is on the scrap cart, and I used the 10x30 8/4 poplar to make a Moxon style mount for my mechanic's vise so I can sharpen my card scrapers first thing in the morning. The 'EE' stamp on your construction lumber and mine stands for 'eased edge' and I hate that mark at least as much as you do. I own work gloves. Why are the mills selling me air and keeping the sawdust?

    I also put a second coat of Linseed oil on my nail test scrap pieces. They are less blotchy but not good enough.

    Tomorrow needs to be a rest day for me as I have charge of the infectious disease unit M-T-W this coming week. It is a lot of steps, a lot of calories; and I need to cook some food to eat.

    On my to do list, I need to see if there is a diamond plate at higher than 8k grit. It should be cheaper than a Veritas Low Angle Jack Plane if there is such a stone. I was able to re-prove to myself today that 8k (guided) diamond is a delightful surface on SPF, and on poplar, and on edge grain of NA beech. On end grain of NA beech, a low angle Lee Valley plane with 12 degree bed and 30 degree secondary is a dramatically (to me) better surface than PMV 11 bevel down in a Bailey at 45 degrees total cutting angle with a downward facing 30 degree secondary. I don't know why 42 degrees total versus 45 degrees total makes such a big difference, but it does make an easily observable difference in my shop with my things. And I am still not happy with face grain on NA beech with any of my things- but I can take another crack at my card scrapers in the morning.

    I did pick out from my scrap cart the pieces for my next bench hooks and shooting board. However, day time high was -23dF today, about -30.5C. Too cold to snow, but I just didn't have the gumption to drag my jointer and planer out onto the driveway pad to get started with that sub project.

    One thing I might do in the morning is see how much of Don's #31wax I can melt into 300 sqin of poplar surface and order a lifetime supply while Don is still selling.

    Oh yes, pictures.

    20231209_183144.jpg20231209_183207.jpg20231209_183224.jpg20231209_183241.jpg

  15. #15
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    Looks like your having a little fun even with the cold temps.

    I used the 10x30 8/4 poplar to make a Moxon style mount for my mechanic's vise so I can sharpen my card scrapers first thing in the morning.
    Being able to mount a metal working vise is a handy endeavor. At least three different set ups have worked well in the past. Since mounting a metal working vise on its own bench, the only set-up still in the shop is for a saw vise.

    Saw Vise Mounting.jpg

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 12-10-2023 at 11:51 PM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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