Fir Workbench! #1: Need to start lamination!

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Blog entry by LucasinBC posted 12-29-2009 01:31 AM 2591 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Fir Workbench! series Part 2: Having fun with jointer... »

I started this project about three months ago, and it has been developing slowly but steadily. This is mostly because it is my first ever woodworking project and I am learning (and purchasing items) as I go. But I figured a decent bench would make a good starter project.

To be honest, my end goal is to build my own guitars, but I really wanted a large and sturdy work surface other than my kitchen table to work on…so here I am.

I am using the plans laid out in Christopher Schwart’s book “Workbenches” which does a good job with the step-by-step instructions. There are two benches in his book, and I decided on the French or Roubo bench for its simplicity and its sheer massiveness.

I decided on Douglas Fir for a few reasons. One, it’s readily available in my neck of the woods, and relatively inexpensive as a result. Two, despite the fact that it isn’t the prettiest wood in the world, it’s mighty strong and sturdy. Even the construction grade stuff is used to frame houses’ and it rates pretty high in most durability categories. It’s soft, so it’ll mar pretty easily, but I don’t intend to whack it with power tools and mallets on a regular basis, so I’ll take my chances. I’ll see how it goes I guess!

Where am I right now? I have ripped all my wood to width, and I have cross-cut it to length for the most part. The legs, stretchers and top are all laying in a heap in my garage waiting to be laminated, jointed and finished. Most of the grunt work is done, now the more precise mortising and tennoning lies ahead.

My most recent stall has been the result of me needing to get a new wear plate for my 12.5” Delta planer. I bought mine used, and the wear plate was all scratched and dinged by the previous owner. The result was that my workpieces were all marred at the other end. I got the new wear plate last week from, so I should be ready to rock.

Next step, joint and plane down the boards for the top and start a crazy glue-up that will feature 25 2X3” boards @ 6’ in length. Lots of glue!

That’s my goal for Tuesday! Let’s hope I can get to it!

Until next time,

-- Making mistakes is essential in learning woodworking.

8 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5380 days

#1 posted 12-29-2009 01:57 AM

Good Luck…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View johngoes's profile


54 posts in 4725 days

#2 posted 12-29-2009 02:30 AM

I built my workbench from fir also and it works great. Yes, it gets dinged here and there but it doesn’t stop me from working. So it can be done and it will be a workbench for which you will have great pride and joy with your guitar building.

Is that acoustic or electric guitars you plan building? Have you built one yet? I’ve had curiosity to see about building either one but haven’t gone beyond examining the process so far. Seems like a lot of dedicated work I’d like to tackle someday.

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsmen can hide his mistakes!

View LucasinBC's profile


62 posts in 4354 days

#3 posted 12-29-2009 04:26 AM

Hi johngoes,

Nice to hear that fir has worked for your workbench. I read in Schwart’s book that he used Yellow Pine, which is somewhat similar to fir, so I was hoping I wasn’t too far off.

As far as guitar building goes, I have not built one yet, but that’s my next project. I have re-built and hot-rodded several of my electric guitars, and done some minor repair work on my accoustics, but I have yet to actually build one from scratch. It all started when I busted my stratocaster one day, and I decided to fix up the neck. Before long I started thinking how much fun it would be to build my own and here we are now.

I’m shooting for an electric first to see if I can handle that, if yes then I’ll try my hand at an accoustic. As far as I have read and seen, accoustic guitars are ten times more difficult to build than electrics…many more joints, very little room for mistake.

I’ve purchased all the wood for my first guitar build, so I’ll post the updates of that once my bench is complete.

Thanks for reading,

-- Making mistakes is essential in learning woodworking.

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5165 days

#4 posted 12-29-2009 05:00 AM

Hey Luc, Nice to meet you. I built my current bench out of Fir and I really like it. I just treat it a little different than if it were maple. But it can take a ding no problem. After all, it’s a workbench.

I blogged about it in a 3 part blog here:

I never posted a final picture of it with dog holes and all oiled up, but I use it all the time. Maybe I should finish that blog.

This will be fun to watch,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View jcontract's profile


86 posts in 4370 days

#5 posted 12-29-2009 05:08 AM

Luc.. Good luck. I’m just about to start my bench as well. I’ll be building another Schwarz style, the Holtzappfel out of Ash. Have you given any thought to the vices you’ll use?

View LucasinBC's profile


62 posts in 4354 days

#6 posted 12-29-2009 06:07 AM

Hi there jcontract,

I’m going for simplicity on my bench, so nothing outrageous for the vices. This is my first woodworking project, so I’m going to follow the KISS principle as my guide; so only a quick release vise on the shoulder probably 6”, and probably a larger quick release on the end for the end vise…maybe 12”. I was going to grab a bench screw to install a leg vise, but I don’t have a band saw at the moment, and without that it’s pretty well impossible to cut a channel through the leg to get that sliding adjustment part.

I’ll post some photos later this week to show my “progress” assuming I don’t break anything. I’ll be working on the top for the next little while, so if you have any tips on dog-holes or hold-downs I would love to hear them.

Thanks for reading,

-- Making mistakes is essential in learning woodworking.

View jcontract's profile


86 posts in 4370 days

#7 posted 12-29-2009 02:16 PM

A friend buily a beautiful Holtaffel bench and he wnet with round holes. He built his own dogs out of a small scrap of wood with a hole drilled in the center to accept a 3/4” dowel. They look great and can be made inexpensively. That’s what I’ll be doing.

Another trick that I used on my first project, the Sawbench which calles for a dog-hole for a holdfast, is that I used a chamfering bit, and with very little of it exposed in the router traced the inside of the hole to ease the top and prevent chipping. You can see it in one of the pictures. Anyhow, looking forward to you series. Please take pictures when you can and post.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 5288 days

#8 posted 12-29-2009 02:24 PM

I’ve always liked Fir. Its certainly not cheap in my neck of the woods. You can carry 500 dollars worth of quarter sawn Fir in your arms!

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

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