My First Workbench #22: Day 22: Attaching the top!

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Blog entry by RaggedKerf posted 09-06-2012 11:17 PM 1389 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 21: Day 21: More planing...more sweating. Part 22 of My First Workbench series Part 23: Day 23: Plugs for top anchors. »

For the version with pictures, please click here.

I didn’t have a lot of time today, maybe an hour and a half. So, I spent the first hour going at the top again with the #4 plane. I made the executive decision last night to do what I can and call it. In theory, given unlimited energy and time, I could get this top to flat-level with the #4. By the time my kids are in college.

Or, I could do the best I could, get it reasonable (for a first time effort) and bolt the sucker down so it’s not a safety hazard any more, since Sara and I are starting work on the Sky Fort in the garage and the workbench will be used as a…workbench. And a drying rack, and a tool bench and on and on. Point is, I wasn’t comfortable with the top merely resting on the base, and I didn’t want to bolt it down until the top was as good as I was willing to make it. Decision made.

So, after an hour, I got the top within 1/16” of flat/level. I took out the little twist that was left using the winding sticks and there was a sudden moment when I just sighed and said, “It’s done.”
Does that rule out getting better or different planes in the future and coming back to completely level this puppy? No. In fact, that is probably what will happen. I will, at some point in the future, be doing something that requires a really flat top and realize that my bench is only 98% there. At that point, I will likely stop the project I’m on and flatten the bench once and for all. But, that is then and this is now and I need a stable bench. Now.

Once I wiped the sweat from my eyes, I measured out where I wanted the bolts to go, taking three measurements for each location to make really sure I wasn’t going to miss the rail underneath but hit it dead center.

Oh I hope I don’t screw this up… Very quickly, the Black and Decker Woodwrecker showed me why it has that name. Four holes drilled through the top. Nice.

The drill just eats this wood up.
I lifted off the top and finished the holes through the rails underneath lickedy-split. Then it was replace the top and countersink the holes so the 3/8” bolts I got could sit below the surface of the top. The paddle bit was messy—-I admit it, I didn’t do as nice a job as I should have on the first hole. It was a little ragged, but nothing a sharp knife or sandpaper couldn’t tidy up real nice. Hole #2 was just plain ugly. So ugly, you’ll just have to take my word for it…I’m too embarrassed to photograph it! The bit wobbled and made a ragged edge. Hmmm. The center had no support. Oops.

So, the light bulb went on over my head and I found one of the 3/8” bits of dowel from the pegs I sawed off a few days back and put it in the remaining holes. The paddle bit went right in and I had 2 smooth countersinks. Why oh why didn’t I think of that before starting out?? Ugh.

In truth, the two ugly holes aren’t all that bad, and in fact, I don’t intend to do anything fancy to fix them—-I want to look at them as a reminder to freaking think about stuff like this that I think is simple before I charge ahead. Next time I’m at the BORG I will pick up a 7/8” dowel (and a 1” just in case) and make plugs, then plane them smooth with the top.

With the 8” bolts hammered home, I have plenty of space underneath to attach washers and nuts to secure the top nice and tight, and still have room for seasonal expansion (if I (a) notice and (b) care).

And with that, the workshop session is up! This also marks the point where I have put in 30 hours of work on the bench. Amazing to think that only 30 hours of work and 24 hours of dry time separated the pile of wood I brought home from Menards and the nearly usable bench in the garage right now.

Tonight, Sara and I are going to officially start the construction of the Sky Fort. Awesome!

-- Steve

3 comments so far

View thedude50's profile


3613 posts in 3814 days

#1 posted 09-07-2012 08:58 AM

pictures say 1000 words

-- Please check out my new stores and

View Greenie's profile


7 posts in 3426 days

#2 posted 09-07-2012 10:15 AM


Can I suggest a counter bore technique to you? When you have a hole already in place, and need to create a larger “counter-bore”, use a Forstner bit. Take a strip of 1/4” plywood about 4” x 12”, take your forstner and pre-drill a hole in it, away from where the counter bore will eventually be. Then place the template over/around the first hole and the template will guide the forstner even with out the center point touching any material. This works great and especially in finished surfaces.

-- Grant, Minnesota

View RaggedKerf's profile


425 posts in 3457 days

#3 posted 09-07-2012 06:18 PM

@ thedude50: Yeah, I regret not putting pictures up but by the time I go back and resize everything to not get wonky with Lumberjocks, it turns out to be a pain. I do most of this blogging on my phone with the Worpress app, where I take the pictures and it all gets done for me while I watch the kids during the day. That’s why I post the link to the blog over at Wordpress in the first line of my entries so you can click and see the pictures too…it’s a pain for readers, I know, but otherwise I probably just wouldn’t even have the blog here…what precious little time I find I want to use in the shop, not photoshop…

@ Greenie: that sounds like a fantastic method! I need to get some Fostner bits—-I feel like I’m playing catchup after having a circular saw, drill, and screwdrivers for most of my adult life (and nothing else!). If I decide to fix up the holes and erase my reminders, I will definitely try this out after a purchase of some new bits. The holes will likely end up 1” diamater, but that’s not so bad. Right now, they are 7/8”.

-- Steve

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