Workbench Build

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Blog series by Mark Kornell updated 12-28-2014 04:14 AM 23 parts 76822 reads 110 comments total

Part 1: First sniff of glue

03-26-2014 04:03 AM by Mark Kornell | 11 comments »

I’ve been planning a workbench build for two years, maybe a bit longer. Started by reading everything I could, followed by some quality SketchUp time. Had a design, changed it. Tweaked it again. Threw the design out and started over. More tweaking followed. And so on… Settled on a Roubo variant, and ordered Benchcrafted hardware. A year and a half ago. Complete re-design once again. Did a couple tweaks to that and ordered the lumber. Should be well-acclimated to my shop by n...

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Part 2: More design tweaking, and some cherry sawdust

03-28-2014 04:13 AM by Mark Kornell | 5 comments »

After getting my legs glued up, I decided to look at my plan to see how it would fit the likely final leg dimensions. And realized that the 6×6 legs in the SketchUp model would likely end up at 5 1/2” x 5 1/2”. So I spent a couple hours making tweaks. Adjusting the leg dimensions was easy. I also simplified a bunch of the joinery. Used LayOut to make dimensioned drawings for leg joinery. After all, I have 4 legs glued up and waiting for action. Was about to start cuttin...

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Part 3: Half a top

03-29-2014 04:53 AM by Mark Kornell | 6 comments »

Milled and glued up two quarters of the top today. Started edge jointing the first board and realized I had a jointer taper issue. Spent an hour getting that right, or at least pretty close. My longest straight-edge is my 6’ builders level, so it is sorted out to whatever degree of accuracy the level allows. Didn’t seem to be an issue afterwards, at least. Process was to mill 3 boards and glue them up. Mill the next set while the glue was setting. All clamps on deck! Line...

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Part 4: Almost the whole top

04-13-2014 05:34 AM by Mark Kornell | 1 comment »

Managed to get all four sections of the top glued up. A bit laborious, but pretty straightforward. Decided to take a suggestion and use some jatoba for contrast. The plan was to glue up 4 sections of boards. Then I’d flatten each section before gluing the sections together. The rationale was that it would be easier to flatten each section using the powered jointer and planer than it would be the entire top using hand planes. There were two problems with this approach, both of whic...

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Part 5: Square or round? Round or Square? Doggone it, somebody throw me a bone!!!

04-17-2014 04:02 AM by Mark Kornell | 7 comments »

I knew I’d come to this point – and I don’t mean throwing out pithy blog entry titles. I’d have to decide what kind of dog holes I want. Jameel Abraham (Mr. Benchcrafted) feels pretty strongly that square dogs are the only way. Chris Schwarz used to be agnostic, but now has a strong preference for round dogs. Lon Schleining suggests using both. Scott Landis doesn’t really state a preference in his book, but most of the benches he shows have square holes. ...

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Part 6: Mmmm, bacon

04-21-2014 04:30 AM by Mark Kornell | 7 comments »

I finished routing out dog holes. Here’s what the jig looked like clamped over one of the roughed-out holes: Pretty straightforward, taking 1/16” or less off each side. A bit more work on the head recess, but way easier than hogging out the whole hole with the router. The darker area on the top of the jig is wax. And here’s what I mean by bacon: Those two boards should be flat and fit together without gaps! Instead I have 3/4” warpage over 4”. I wa...

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Part 7: The Left Tongue

06-19-2014 05:38 AM by Mark Kornell | 1 comment »

I’m going to have end caps on my bench, which will work something like a scaled-up breadboard end. The purpose isn’t to help hold the top flat, though. On the right end – where the wagon vise is located – the end cap holds the vise screw in place. On the left end, the end cap is mostly to balance out the look of the right end. It is a big slab. Approximately 25” wide and nearly 4” thick. Even if I had a euro-style slider saw with a 12” blade, IR...

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Part 8: The Right Tongue

06-19-2014 06:19 AM by Mark Kornell | 5 comments »

The layout for the vise end tongue is a bit more involved because you need to factor in your vise screw, traveller and dog block. Unless you can fabricate them yourself after you make the cuts to your benchtop, you pretty much need to have all those pieces in hand at this point. I assembled my vise screw, flange and traveller. And the dog block. That’s actually two dog blocks in one piece. I’ll cut that apart when I eventually assemble the vise. Keeping it as a larger piece ...

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Part 9: Vise End Cap

11-24-2014 05:08 AM by Mark Kornell | 7 comments »

Finally got some time to get back on the bench. After all, its only been 5 months since I last worked on it. Decided to tackle the end cap on the vise side. Condor tails for joinery, naturally :-) Popular Woodworking recently sent out an email with article from Jameel Abraham (Mr. Benchcrafted) on the process, pretty easy to follow. Link: First, though, I laid out the tails full size and played around with sizes to get so...

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Part 10: More on the vise end cap

11-25-2014 06:00 AM by Mark Kornell | 3 comments »

Trimming the tenon cheeks and shoulders was fairly straightforward. The hardest part was flipping the 200 lb slab every 5 minutes… There were two issues. First, the tenon shoulders weren’t coplanar. In fact, they formed a kind of X. I doubt my collar jig was that bad, so I’m inclined to think there was a lot of flex in the circ saw, and probably exacerbated by the blade burning issue. The second issue is that the tenon depth was uneven. That’s a layout problem. ...

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Part 11: Wagon Vise Install

12-03-2014 05:37 AM by Mark Kornell | 6 comments »

With the end cap being fitted and condor tail joinery cut, the next step was to start the process of fitting the wagon vise. First step: excavate the cavity where the screw/traveller will sit. I fit the edge guide attachment to my router base and adjusted it to my layout: A bunch of sawdust later, there is a cavity for the traveller: I really should move my oil rag can somewhere it won’t be a dust collector :-) Put the end cap back on to see how it looks from the other side:...

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Part 12: The Other End Cap

12-04-2014 04:46 AM by Mark Kornell | 2 comments »

The process for truing up the tongue and mortising the end cap for the non-vise end was the same as for the vise end, so I’ll avoid repeating myself. Once I had the end cap fit, I needed to cut the condor tails. I carefully laid out the front board and got a back shoulder cut precisely. Important, because the tails on the front board have to fit into sockets on both ends. And those sockets are at fixed locations. Once I got that right, I proceeded to cut the tails on the band saw, cl...

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Part 13: Finishing the Wagon Vise Install

12-07-2014 07:33 AM by Mark Kornell | 5 comments »

First, for Terry - Step 1: Step 2: Step 3: Step 4: Kinda like eating an elephant. A little bit at a time… ——- You know how it is when you head into the shop at 9 a.m. thinking you’ve got a fairly simple task to do, should take about an hour and you can move on to the next part of the project? And then you realize you need to take care of a detail before you can do that one thing? But before you take care of the detail you need to take care of somet...

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Part 14: Leg Tenons

12-08-2014 04:00 AM by Mark Kornell | 3 comments »

To join the legs to the top, I’m going to use blind tenons. I didn’t quite have enough lumber to do the full through dovetail tenons – my leg blanks are about 1” short! C’est la vie. I’d glued up the blanks months ago and left them rough. So I start by foursquaring them. Joint two adjoining faces, plane the other two. Kept at the planer until all four legs were surfaced on all sides, resulting in them being 5 11/16” square. Next step was to trim...

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Part 15: Leg Into Top Mortises

12-09-2014 05:05 AM by Mark Kornell | 3 comments »

To cut the mortises for the leg tenons, I went back to the masking tape. Laid some strips down, and lined up the first leg to be flush with the front of the bench. This leg will ultimately be the leg vise. I had deliberated left some extra space between two of the dog holes to ensure the leg would fit. It was easy to knife the outer faces of the tenons, but the inner faces are a bit harder. Because I know the tenons are dead straight, I simply knifed about 1” in on both ends. Afte...

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Part 16: Leg Vise Install

12-11-2014 07:02 AM by Mark Kornell | 5 comments »

If figured it would be better to work on the vise install on the leg before the bench was assembled. Heeding my own advise, I read and re-read the install instructions again before I started. First thing I realized was that the leg vise install is as much about the chop as it is about the leg. Makes sense – a vise isn’t much with just one surface :-) So I glued up a board to use as the chop: The chop needs to be at least 2 1/2” thick and I all have is 8/4” board...

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Part 17: Mortising the legs

12-14-2014 05:28 AM by Mark Kornell | 2 comments »

Before I mortised the legs, I decided to inset the nut for the leg vise. Easier to do it now than later. (Thank you, Sylvain and tsangell!) This gives me another 1 1/4” of vise travel. If I need more, I will invert the nut. That can be easily accomplished later. The process was to lay out crosshairs on a piece of scrap and mark the center: The layout lines are needed to line up the template with the center of where the nut goes. Then drill out a hole with the big Forstner bit &...

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Part 18: Odds and Ends

12-17-2014 07:59 AM by Mark Kornell | 4 comments »

Well, I discovered I didn’t take any pictures of fitting the tenons to the mortises. Probably because it was kind of tedious and a little bit boring. The first step was to cut the tenons. For the side stretchers, I cut them the same way I cut the large tenons on the legs – with the table saw. Shoulders first, then stand the piece up and cut the cheeks. Then I squared up each mortise and used a router plane, a rasp and/or a float to fit each tenon in turn. Three of the 8 teno...

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Part 19: Getting the base ready for assembly

12-18-2014 06:58 AM by Mark Kornell | 0 comments »

While I did most of the odds and ends yesterday, there were a few things I needed to do today to get everything ready to assemble. First, I have a location conflict with the leg closest to the wagon vise and the first dog hole: I knew this going in – I need a leg close to the end of travel for the wagon vise, but the dog hole spacing was going to be less than the leg width. For the holes around the leg vise leg, I simply added a bit of space between two holes, but for the leg clos...

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Part 20: Assembly Day

12-19-2014 07:58 AM by Mark Kornell | 6 comments »

I knew today was going to be a good day. Got out to the shop and started assembling the base. Well, back up a bit – had to clean up and organize some, move the desk/bench thingy to the wall and lay out where exactly I wanted the new bench to be placed. Once it is all together, it will not be moveable without a lot of effort. Ah, on to the base. Laid the tape down where I wanted it to go and set the legs in place. Added the stretchers Right about this time, Dad came by. Perfe...

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Part 21: Of Dogs and Deadmen

12-21-2014 10:36 PM by Mark Kornell | 6 comments »

Installed Shelf Boards Before I started on the dogs and deaman, I installed the shelf boards. Screwed into the cleats at both ends. Of Dogs On to the dogs. I followed a diagram I found on the Benchcrafted site (sorry, don’t have link), and made the body of the dogs from jatoba. Springs from ash. The springs were easy – just sliced off the side of a piece of ash. The dogs were a bit more complex shape. Mostly done on the table saw, with one of the cuts on the bandsa...

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Part 22: Shaping the chop

12-21-2014 11:30 PM by Mark Kornell | 4 comments »

Had about 3 hours in the shop Saturday to shape the chop. The basic shaping is done, just need to fair out a couple sections, sand and finish. Started out by drawing some curves. It may not be obvious, but there are two curves on each side. You’ll see why shortly…. I laid out the inner curve on a piece of scrap MDF, which I’ll be using as a template. Cut that out on the bandsaw Try to do this in one smooth motion. Once it was cut out, I sand the bandsaw mar...

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Part 23: Wrapping it up

12-28-2014 04:14 AM by Mark Kornell | 11 comments »

(Edit: I’ve posted this as a project, too. Here.) This will be the final blog post of my bench build. There wasn’t much left to do. I finished the shaping of the chop and deadman, which mostly involved adding roundovers, fairing curves and sanding. Then I applied a coat of Waterlox: To assist with grip, it helps to add a facing of leather to the inside of the chop. Fortunately, part of the Benchcrafted package. Sized almost perfectly. Roughed up the chop face and appli...

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