My Ultimate Workbench Build #4: A sneak peak at the top layout... maple and walnut in love!!

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Blog entry by RS Woodworks posted 07-11-2011 05:15 AM 9210 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Some of this wood is pithing me off! Part 4 of My Ultimate Workbench Build series Part 5: Joint, plane and repeat.... »

Not only do I love maple and walnut, but I think they love each other too. They look so damn good together… they work well together, and they compliment each other beautifully. What more could a couple ask for?

Well tonight I managed a wee bit of shop time. Between my 4 hours of sleep last night, being up at 4:15 am, and dealing with a two year old and a four year old that don’t play nearly as nice together as maple and walnut do, it wasn’t much shop time. But it was enough to take all the rough lumber for the top and cut it to just over 3” widths. The boards were all over 6” in width to start. And while I can run boards wider than 6” on my 6” General jointer, it takes a lot of extra work and jigs to set up. So I figured I’d rip all the boards to just over 3” wide first, then they are much easier to handle on the jointer to get the nice square faces and edges I need.

So how does one tackle this task? Well, normally I do most of my ripping on the table saw. But with rough boards that haven’t been dressed at all, this is a dangerous task. You run the risk of binding the blade, burning the wood, and the possibility of kickback, even with a riving knife in place. No, this task is much better suited to the bandsaw. I installed a 5/8” wide carbide tipped band, and set up a couple of support stands to help me with the long boards. Then, it was a simple matter of setting the bandsaw fence about 3 1/4” from the blade, and start ripping. With the bandsaw, and only 5/8” of blade in contact with the wood at any time, it matters far less that the boards may not have a flat face or edge to reference off the table or fence. As long as it’s not too twisted and warped, you’ll be just fine.

This will now allow me to run the boards over the jointer, and then through the planer, to get my nice flat surfaces ready for glue up. I’m not there yet though. For now, I just wanted to orient the boards how they will be glued up, to get a feel for the look of the top. Let me know what you think! The walnut boards will be where the dog holes lie. keep in mind, these boards have not been dressed at all yet! I just used two clamps to pull the ends together to take out some of the gaps for the sake of a picture.

The nominal width of the top right now is just over 29”. That’s a very wide top! But remember these boards need to be flattened still. I’m hoping to end up with a top that is between 27” and 28” wide when I’m done.

Thanks again for looking, and please take the time to comment! I really appreciate lots of input! Thanks guys and gals… until next time…

-- I restore the finest vintage tools! If you need a nice plane, saw, marking tool or brace, please let me know!

6 comments so far

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 4220 days

#1 posted 07-11-2011 05:30 AM

I agree, there are few wood combos as sweet as maple and walnut. I look forward to seeing the finished product.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Jack Barnhill's profile

Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 4703 days

#2 posted 07-11-2011 07:04 AM

I too like the combination of maple and walnut. I’m sure it will be a beautiful bench when finished.

Other than appearance, was there another reason you chose to use a combination of different woods for the top? Just curious in case I might learn something.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

View ergeek's profile


7 posts in 3859 days

#3 posted 07-12-2011 01:24 PM

Sweet combo! So it looks like your top will be about 3” thick when complete?

View Bertha's profile


13624 posts in 4030 days

#4 posted 07-12-2011 01:38 PM

It’s going to be glorious. That 5/8” carbide blade really stings the wallet, huh? They’re so nice for resaw, though. I can’t wait to see it together.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Cory's profile


760 posts in 4756 days

#5 posted 07-12-2011 02:50 PM

If I wasn’t so jealous right now, I’d say something nice, like: That’s going to be a beautiful bench. i can’t wait to see the end result. Instead, I’m just going to keep my mouth shut!

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View RS Woodworks's profile

RS Woodworks

533 posts in 4588 days

#6 posted 07-12-2011 03:58 PM

Thanks guys!
Yes, the bench top should be right around the 3” thick mark when finished, may be a slight bit less, but not much I hope.

Jack, other than the visual appearance, there is no real benefit to choosing the two contrasting woods. Just choosing hard solid wood is important, but it could be any type.

Al, the carbide toothed blade is from Lee Valley, and not really a bad price at all I think. It works fantastic tho, cuts like butter! Mine is the 105” length and was $61.50. I highly recommend one!

Cory, thanks for (not) commenting! :D I can’t wait to see the end result too! Hahaha.

-- I restore the finest vintage tools! If you need a nice plane, saw, marking tool or brace, please let me know!

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