Building a new workbench #8: Slow week

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Blog entry by Loogie posted 02-24-2009 04:09 AM 8140 reads 3 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: First time base assembly Part 8 of Building a new workbench series Part 9: Another "boring" post »

This week life intervened and I didn’t get much work done on the bench. Just before I left on my trip I started to drill the holes in the side rails. I started by using a 3/4” auger bit in my drill press. Unfortunately I didn’t plan this step quite as thoroughly as I have done for the rest of this project. Mistake #1 not trying this technique on a pice of scrap first and instead drilling into the bottom rail of the workbench. Mistake #2: Not clamping the rail down to the table of my drill press. The auger bit I’m using has a small screw tip before the drill flutes start. I’ve used this bit before to drill holes in my fixed bench for holdfasts and it worked like a charm. As soon as the bit touched the Ash though, it screwed in started to lift the entire rail. Since I was drilling near one end of the rail the weight caused one end to sag and I ended up with a hole that was less than round with a big auger bit stuck in it. Plan B: After extracting the bit I decided to use a 3/4 inch forstner bit on my drill press. The forstner bits I own are a middle of the road set. It soon became obvious that this bit simply wasn’t going to hack drilling thru 2” of Ash. This was a perfect example of why I live by my tool adage: Buy the best, you’ll always be happy with it. I bought those Forsner bits years ago and I’ve never been happy with them. I wasted $65 on that set. In order to recover I decided to try to find one of the new Colt MaxiCut forstner bits. I managed to locate a 3/4” bit in-stock at The Best Things. I ordered the bit and the 155mm extension. They arrived two days later, just before I got home from mytrip – perfect timing. I chucked the extension and put the bit in the extension. These bits are quite interesting. Where the shaft goes into the chuck it is not quite round. It has a slight edge on it that keeps it from spinning. The extension also has the same feature, and when the bit is placed into the extension and turned slightly, the pressure locks it in place. Really nice. The difference betwen this bit and my old forstner bits is night and day. I remember Christopher Schwarz saying that they were unable to over-feed this bit. I didn’t have quite the same experience. I was able to over-feed the bit, but 3/4” is relatively small for a forstner. I think that a larger bit would be less likely to clog. However if I sowed down the feed rate just a bit then it bored incredibly well. The bit sends up tiny little ribbons of wood rather than the thick shavings of normal forstner bits. Even with the long extension on there was not perceptible run-out with this bit. They’re not cheap (this one was $30), but if you need some really nice clean holes, you can’t go wrong with these bits. After boring a few holes in scrap to become familiar with the operating characteristics it was time to bore some holes in the bench rails. That went without a hitch.
After that was done I reassembled the base and went about doing some flattening of the top. I’ve got it pretty flat and now I wil wait until the slabs are fastened to the bench before I go any further. The next step is to route out the grooves for the sliding deadman, attach the cleats for the slats that go between the bottom rails and begin the vise installation.
I’m nearing the end of having my basement finished so progress on the bench will probably slow a bit over the next few weeks.


-- Mark

9 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 5105 days

#1 posted 02-24-2009 04:18 AM

Mark, this is looking good. You are more patient that I would be with regards to the bench. When I get this far along on a project I tend to ramp things up and focus on it to the exclusivity of everything else in an attempt to just get it done. Although it has only been about a month I am sure you will be glad when this is completed and ready to put to work.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

1052 posts in 4676 days

#2 posted 02-24-2009 04:21 AM

your bench is getting incredibly nice, I am enjoing your blog!
I hope to be working in my bench soon, and I know for sure what wood to go for! (psss…ash!)

-- "Menos es mas" Ludwing Mies Van Der Rohe

View Rick D.'s profile

Rick D.

56 posts in 4678 days

#3 posted 02-24-2009 04:27 AM

Nice work! I’ll be following along to see how it goes.

-- segmented turning kits --->

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5271 days

#4 posted 02-24-2009 04:35 AM

Looking great so far. I bet you can wait to work “on” it rather that on it.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View DocK16's profile


1200 posts in 5369 days

#5 posted 02-24-2009 05:31 AM

Not sure how I missed this blog series before but when I saw this latest blog and the nearly completed results I had to go back and check out the rest of the series. That is a lot of ash, I ve been wanting to build a nice work bench and have checked out several sets of plans, this looks interesting but any version is going to be wood pricey. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

View JuniorJoiner's profile


497 posts in 4723 days

#6 posted 02-24-2009 08:06 AM

great looking bench. I appreciate the nuances of working with ash.
your at the point that i wish i had stopped and built my bench accessories(bench hook, shooting board, etc.) so that you can add your dog holes and vices to work in compliment with how you work. just a suggestion.

can’t wait to see the finished product

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 5070 days

#7 posted 02-24-2009 04:07 PM

Looking good. How did you trim the ends of the benchtop? I am still trying to figure out the best way to do this for my 4” thick top. It needs to be pretty accurate since I will be fitting and end cap to it.

I might pick up some of those forstner bits too.


-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View Loogie's profile


100 posts in 5063 days

#8 posted 02-25-2009 03:53 AM

Shannon, I used my sliding compound miter saw to cut the ends of the bench. It worked great. It was pretty close to the maximum capacity of my saw – 12” wide and 3 3/4” thick. That’s a tough haul, but my 12” Forrest Chopmaster left a nice smooth finish.

-- Mark

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4956 days

#9 posted 10-03-2010 10:28 PM

Mark, how is top going to come togther?

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