The Quest for a Better Bench #6: Final Assembly and Finish!!!

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Blog entry by PlanBWoodworks posted 11-08-2017 06:43 AM 993 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Mortise and Tenon Joinery... Just writing that makes me feel like a SUPER WOODWORKER!!! Part 6 of The Quest for a Better Bench series Part 7: The last part... »

After cutting the mortises, tenons and all the dadoes in the legs, I felt like I was in the home stretch. The first thing that I did following all of the cutting and milling was sand EVERYTHING to 320. Probably further than necessary, but I don’t think anyone has aver said, “Man, I wish that I hadn’t sanded everything so well.” Anyway, after sanding everything down, I started thinking. If you are anything like me, you know how dangerous that can be.

I decided that I was getting nervous about my target height for the bench. I intended for the bench to end up at 34”. According to all of my readings, 34” is a highly recommended height for workbenches. Now, I am 5’9”. In the past, I had built all of my benches at a minimum of 40” based on the fact that the very first real bench that I built was ridiculously tall at 44” (mainly because I was ignorant). I had grown accustomed to taller benches, and seeing a final height of 34” was pretty disconcerting.

I decided that I wanted to make the bench a little taller. The problem was that I had already cut the legs. How could I make them taller? The answer was pretty simple. I was going to add – and I am sure that there is an actual name for this, but I don’t know what it is – stretchers as feet. I laminated a couple of 2”x4” pieces remaining from the legs. Then, I took them to my bandsaw and cut a curve on the front.

After sanding them down, I began staining the legs and feet. I selected Sedona Red from Minwax. I applied 2 coats to all of the leg material. After the 2nd coat, I was not pleased with the color. It was very pink. I then decided to add some red mahogany to the Sedona Red. That darkened it up pretty nicely in my opinion. I clear coated the legs with spray spar urethane.

I then turned my attention to the top. I decided that I wanted to put a round over on all the edges of the top. I took my palm router and rounded over the front and one side. It was only AFTER I routed the round over on the side that I decided that I wanted the top to be a little longer. How was I going to fix that? I decided that I would simply cut 2x material to cap the ends. I was going to fill in my roundover by mixing sawdust and glue and really packing it in there. It turned out ok. Not beautiful, but it worked.

For the finish on the top, I knew I wanted a glassy smooth finish. I also knew that I wanted to leave the wood natural as far as color. I took Zinzer’s Clear Shellac and thinned it 50/50 with Denatured Alcohol. I padded it on, sanding with 400 after the 2nd, 3rd and 4th coats. For the 5th and 6th coats, I sanded with 0000 steel wool. I applied a final coat and was done.

On to assembly!!! I used glue and screws to attach the legs and stretchers. After getting that part of the assembly, I was able to manhandle the top on to the tenons. I did not use any glue or screws to attach the top. As I mentioned in previous blog entries, I intend to replace the top relatively soon with a beefier hard maple top. I will then take the current top, and repurpose it into a desk for my home office – which is the reason that ai wanted the glassy smooth finish.

The bench was finished!!!! I was very happy with the final result! I was also very happy to be finished with this project. It was long and I was ready to move on to something else. I was done…but wait. You know, the bench is pretty nice. BUT, it would be awesome to add a tool cabinet to the open space between the legs! Dammit! Not done yet…

In the next entry, I will describe the construction of the the tool chest and wrap this build up for good. I think…

Thanks for reading!

-- Why can’t I ever find my pencil???

3 comments so far

View jonah's profile


2092 posts in 3901 days

#1 posted 11-08-2017 04:01 PM

Nice looking bench. I went through a similar thought process on putting a cabinet in the base of my bench. I recently replaced that cabinet with drawers, so I need to update my blog series.

View PlanBWoodworks's profile


168 posts in 1085 days

#2 posted 11-08-2017 04:27 PM

Jonah, I actually did build drawers. What do you call a bank of drawers? Is it still a tool cabinet or chest? The drawers have worked out well so far.

-- Why can’t I ever find my pencil???

View jonah's profile


2092 posts in 3901 days

#3 posted 11-08-2017 05:32 PM

I think the terms are pretty interchangeable. I have cabinets in my kitchen that have doors, and some with drawers.

I originally built a cabinet with doors (see my blog series on the workbench), but didn’t really like that so I went with drawers in my rebuild.

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