My First Workbench

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Blog series by RaggedKerf updated 09-14-2013 01:13 AM 42 parts 103981 reads 68 comments total

Part 1: Day 1

08-10-2012 01:33 PM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

After debating with myself for the past 6 months or so, I finallly decided on a design and got the nod from my CFO to go buy the lumber (it helps that my local Menards had a sale on everything in the store, including lumber). I won’t go into all the details and back story on the blog here, I’ll reserve that for my full up woodworking blog over at: Feel free to visit that site for all the details, more photos, my thoughts, etc. I will endeavor ...

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Part 2: Day 2 The cross cut jig

08-10-2012 08:49 PM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

I’m letting the wood acclimate to the garage a bit and focus on other tasks around the house before we head to my wife’s class reunion. But, I did manage to make a nifty little cross-cut jig for my circular saw to prepare for trimming the 2×4s to length for when I build the top. For details and pictures, please click here. Can’t wait to get started on the top!

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Part 3: How I learned to stop worrying and love the miter saw

08-15-2012 12:57 AM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

OOOH I had fun today! After a few days off visiting relatives, I was finally afforded time back in the shop today and spent that time cutting the 2×4s to make up the bench top. I broke out the new miter-saw (well, new as of 2 years ago…) cut all 16 2×4s to rough length (73”). Once I finish the glue up, I’ll trim the top to length with the circular saw. Here’s the result: To see the details and my comments on the Harbor Freight 10” compound mit...

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Part 4: Day 4: Just Plane Fun

08-16-2012 02:04 AM by RaggedKerf | 2 comments »

Got some more time in the shop today working on my bench…now that all the boards for the top are cut to length, it was time to start planing and getting things crisp. I decided to follow the advice of Paul Sellers and try and use my hand plane to smooth out the sides of the pieces to prep for gluing up the top. I like his simple technique of using two saw horses as a support and straddling the wood to start planning on the end. Once you get a foot or so planed, you simply simply ...

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Part 5: Day 5: Slugging it out

08-17-2012 12:11 AM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

Today was all about slugging it out. I ended up smashing my knuckles against the wall stud I’m using as a brace when I was thinking ahead to the glue-up and not paying attention to how far I was reaching with the plane…then, I promptly sliced another finger on the sharp corner (how did that happen?) of the plank I was working on. Just a flesh wound… So, got a little bloody today, but, well, these things won’t plane themselves… Great thing about today th...

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Part 6: Day 6: Short on time...

08-18-2012 12:56 AM by RaggedKerf | 3 comments »

Didn’t get nearly what I wanted accomplished today. Must have jinxed myself yesterday by posting a proposed timeline for the next few days. All in all, I got 3 of the remaining 2×4s face-planed today, with minimal fuss and sweat and time. In fact, I got them smooth in less than 30 minutes ( a new record for me!). Which is good, because that was about all the time I had to spare today! Sadly, that meant there was really no need to take pictures. I have continued to make pr...

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Part 7: Day 7: Progress and lots of it!

08-19-2012 12:22 PM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

Got a lot done today. My wonderful wife got up with the kids this morning to allow me to get down early to the garage and continue work on the workbench. My first task was to rip the 2×4s for the top by about 1/2” to make nice flat edges, which will (in theory) make a nice smooth, sharp edged top. (Just a note to my fellow Lumberjocks—-this is just copied from my wordpress blog which is riddled with pictures which took me a long time to edit and post…so since I hav...

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Part 8: Day 8: Still gluing the top...

08-20-2012 11:37 AM by RaggedKerf | 2 comments »

To see this post with pictures, please click here! Nothing nearly so exciting as yesterday’s progress for today. I got up early and glued up section number 3 of the top and did nothing else until the early afternoon. That’s when section 4 got glued up—-the best, smoothest one yet! It was going to be the back of the workbench, but because it looks so nice, I may make it the front! Then I decided to try my hand at smoothing out the tops of the individual sections to see if that w...

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Part 9: Day 9: Still gluing...and my first tenon!

08-20-2012 11:37 PM by RaggedKerf | 2 comments »

Note: To see today's pictures click here. My goal for today was to smooth out the tops of the 4 sections a little (nothing perfect, mind you, that will come later when the top is assembled) and prep them for gluing together. I was very pleasantly surprised to see how quickly the glued up sections planed with my #4 plane. About 10 minutes per section and they were all nice and smooth, with the exception of the last section, the one with the big gap from my last post. That one was also ...

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Part 10: Day 10: Glue up finished, starting on joinery

08-21-2012 10:19 PM by RaggedKerf | 4 comments »

If you want to see the version with all the pictures, please click here. I got up with the sun today to get a head start on bench before the munchkins got up. First order of business was to unclamp the 2nd half that I glued up last night. Then, after a quick run with the plane to smooth out the mating faces, I glued up the two halves. It’s now one massive slab of wood where a little over a week ago, it was just a collection of 16 2×4s. This thing is gratifyingly heavy as well. ...

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Part 11: Day 11: Mortises, Tenons, Sharpening, oh my!

08-23-2012 01:42 AM by RaggedKerf | 2 comments »

Please click here for the version with pictures. After a few friendly reminders, I realize that it is indeed time to take a break and sharpen my chisels before I continue. I want to make sure the mortises are as sharp and clean as I can make them to ensure a good fit with the tenons. To do that, I need to get rid of the (gasp) factory edge that has so far lived on the tip of my chisels. To do that I decided to make a little sharpening station, based off of something I saw in Dan’...

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Part 12: Day 12: More mortises.

08-24-2012 01:36 AM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

(Only one picture for this short update today so I decided to post it here too!) Nothing special today, just more working on chopping mortises and 3 more tenons…lots of sawing. Lots. But I have to say I’m seeing a little improvement in my abilities to feel when the wood is telling me I’m going to fast or off angle on the saw strokes. It’s getting easier to saw too—-I’m not putting near as much pressure as I did on the first cut of this project. It f...

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Part 13: Day 13: Dry fit the base!

08-25-2012 01:54 AM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

As usual, for the pictures, click here. Today was very exciting! I decided to finish the base joinery prep once and for all and powered through the last 3 tenons and mortises. I wrapped up with a dry run of the base and I am very happy with the results (though there are a few minor glitches to take care of tomorrow…more on that below). To begin with, I was not at all thrilled with continuing the tenon cutting. I have been using a makeshift saw horse (2 pieces of offcuts from t...

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Part 14: Day 14: Trimming Tenons and legs...

08-26-2012 12:10 PM by RaggedKerf | 2 comments »

For all the pictures, please click here. Note: This was supposed to have been posted Saturday the 25th… I wasn’t sure how much time I’d have today to work on the bench so instead of charging ahead with measuring the height of the legs to get ready for installing the top, I decided to do some more mundane tasks. They still are in general preparation for the top, but I just wasn’t planning on doing them first. Before I get going though, I had mentioned yestrday...

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Part 15: Day 15: Working on the top.

08-27-2012 01:30 AM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

For the version with pictures, please click here. After reviewing tye excellent advice I recieved from David and Sylvain, I decided to scrap my overly complicated idea to trace the profile of the top onto a 2×4 rail and just chop out the space required to fit the rail into the top. Genius.First things first, I made the measurements and drew lines to show me where to cut and which planks needed trimming. Only 6 or so of the planks needed to be cut. I pulled out the crosscut saw a...

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Part 16: Day 16: Winding sticks and cutting rail tenons.

08-27-2012 11:16 PM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

For the pictures, please click here. I had some time this morning with kids out playing with chalk in the driveway to make some winding sticks for when I level the top (hopefully this week!). I had some 1×2 dimensional poplar left over from a project that was never used (8 feet of it sitting in the garage taunting me to make something out it). So I found the two ends were the straightest and cut 2’ off each end.Then I used a chisel to bevel the edges slightly. I tried to fi...

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Part 17: Day 17: Cutting the Bridle Joints...

08-29-2012 01:05 AM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

To see the version with pictures, please click here. I didn’t have much time in the shop today, but I do what I can, when I can! There was just enough time to cut the first two bridle joints in the legs (I did both the left rear and left front legs). I had put the layout lines on the first one yesterday so I was ready to grab the saw and have at it today. But man, my arm is sore! That 4×4 Douglas Fir is no joke to cut a 3.5 inch by 1 inch chunk out with handsaw and chisels...

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Part 18: Day 18: The big dry fit!

08-30-2012 12:39 AM by RaggedKerf | 2 comments »

To see the picture heavy version of this post, please click here! Very excited today because I got a lot accomplished! I ended with a dry fit of the entire bench and started work on the leg vise. To get started, I finished sawing the bridle joint on the last leg…best cuts to date! Straight as an arrow!When the last legs were cut, I grabbed the rubber mallet and chisels and hacked out the joints in about 10 minutes. So much faster than before! Sharp chisels are a joy to wor...

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Part 19: Day 19: Assembling the base!

08-31-2012 01:12 AM by RaggedKerf | 2 comments »

To see the version with pictures, please click here. Finally, the day I’ve been working towards for the last three weeks or so has arrived! I was able to successfully glue up the base and insert the oak pegs. It is no longer a collection of parts and sawdust…it is now a collection of glued together parts and sawdust! I started by making 4” pegs out of the 3 ft long oak dowels that I had purchased with the initial lumber investment. I haven’t really worked with...

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Part 20: Day 20: Leveling the top is a full body workout.

09-04-2012 11:53 AM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

For the dramatic (or not so dramatic) before and after pictures, please click here. A busy weekend with the kiddos and my wife happily trumped all other activities (except cutting the grass) for the weekend. But today is Labor Day so…what better way to celebrate than by doing some labor!I had just enough time to squeeze in some work on the still unfinished bench today. It has been sitting, base assembled and dry, with the top merely resting in place now for 3 days. Time to get bac...

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Part 21: Day 21: More planing...more sweating.

09-04-2012 09:48 PM by RaggedKerf | 1 comment »

For the picture heavy version, please click here! Today was all about the grind. Just grit your teeth and push through the burning in your arms and hands. To get going, though I had just had to settle my differences with the onery plane (it caused me to stop prematurely yesterday). I took my time and examined the thing to see what was amiss, because it wasn’t acting like this when I was planing the individual planks for the top a few weeks ago. Then I noticed it—-the frog...

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Part 22: Day 22: Attaching the top!

09-06-2012 11:17 PM by RaggedKerf | 3 comments »

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 ...

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Part 23: Day 23: Plugs for top anchors.

09-11-2012 12:14 AM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

For the version with pictures, please click here. I didn’t have a lot of time today between getting batches of Sky Fort parts prepped for installation. But, I did have just enough time to work on plugging the bolt holes in top. I picked up a 1”x36” oak dowel from the BORG and measured the depth of each bolt hole individually. Then I transferred the measurement to the dowel and used a coping saw to get a nice clean cut. After some pounding with the rubber mallet (b...

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Part 24: Day 24: Starting the leg vise.

09-12-2012 03:30 PM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

To view the post with pictures, please click here. Had to start sometime I guess! I didn’t do a whole heck of a lot. More like prep work, I figure. First, I took my 1×6 plank of pine and cut two 36” lengths. The bench is just a hair over 36” tall so the vise will be just off the floor. Next, I drew out the design I wanted. Nothing too fancy, just a slight curve (I drew it without a compass or round object) and a few straight lines. I decided since I will b...

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Part 25: Leg Vise shaping part 2

10-10-2012 12:09 PM by RaggedKerf | 3 comments »

To see the post with pictures, please click here. I got back to work shaping the chop for my leg vise today. I have had one too many instances of thinking, “mam, this would be a lot easier if I had that vise done…” on various projects in the last fee weeks. Right! Time to get to work! I spent about 45 minutes paring away the side today trying to match the bevel and shap of the first side I did a while ago. I think it came out pretty good… And here it is ...

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Part 26: Day 27: Utility Shelf

10-16-2012 12:05 AM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

For the version with pictures, please see this page. I got a hold of some more quality time in the shop today so I made the most of it by doing something that’s been on my short list for about 3 weeks now: building a utility shelf for the bench. Besides being able to store stuff under the bench I think it will look cooler too. Also, I had purchased the materials about a month ago and they’ve been sitting in the overhead storage, staring at me every time I go into the garage. ...

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Part 27: Day 28: Leg Vise chop final touches

10-19-2012 10:23 PM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

To see the version with all the pictures (there’s a lot!) click here. I am forcing myself to finish this dadgum leg vise. I’m tired of seeing the parts sitting around and now that I’ve pretty much caught up with all the random tasks associated with the bench to get back to the next to last big project (last will be the sliding deadSven). I spent a little time touching up the beveled edges and getting things where I think I’m at as far as I can push my skills and...

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Part 28: Day 29: Mounting the Leg Vise (part 1)

10-19-2012 11:46 PM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

Here’s the link to the post with pictures. Today I finally had enough of thinking and worrying about how to mount the leg vise. After all, once I drill that big hole through the leg, there’s no going back! I got out the Black and Decker Woodwrecker and a 5/8” paddle bit, then punched a hole in the chop for the threaded rod. Then i carefully lined up the chop exactly where I wanted it…leveled it and clamped it in place. I marked the spot on the leg where the hole...

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Part 29: Day 30: Mounting the Leg Vise (part 2)

10-21-2012 12:12 PM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

For the version with pictures, please click here. I didn’t have much spare time today but what I did have I used to take care of the next couple steps in the leg vise drama. First I removed the threaded rod and hacked off about 6-8” worth from the end. The rod was just about 2” too long to allow the chop to fully close. Then I figured out how to mount a handle. It occurred to me while I was trying to remove the rod from the bench from the test fit. If I could car...

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Part 30: Day 31: Mounting the Leg Vise (part 3)

10-22-2012 11:59 AM by RaggedKerf | 2 comments »

Please click here to see the version with pictures. I made some good progress for the 20 minutes I had to work on the bench today. I used the utility knife to chamber the edges of the two locking nut/wood discs I fabricated, then polished off the wood with 220 grit sandpaper for a nice smooth finish that didn’t end up overly round. I also got out the 3/8” paddle bit and started to hog out the slot for the support guide at the bottom of the leg vise. I ran out of time to...

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Part 31: Day 32: Mounting the Leg Vise (part 4)

10-23-2012 12:15 PM by RaggedKerf | 2 comments »

For the image heavy version of this post, please click here. At last, the day arrived when I could put it all together and complete the leg vise. Or so I thought. This post is actually a combination of a couple days work because I just couldn’t bring myself to post nothing but failure after failure until it was done. With some helpful tips from Sylvain over at the Lumberjocks site, I was able to (almost) complete the task of getting that garter (that I thought was an unmitigated...

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Part 32: Day 33: Leg Vise finished!

10-24-2012 12:08 AM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

For the glory shots of the completed leg vise, please click here. Today, I finally can scratch off this component of the bench at last! I came out to shop more confused than ever on how to proceed after ending the session yesterday in frustration. So I turned on the radio and put everything together and watched carefully how the threaded rod affected the garter and tried to catch it. It occurred to me I should try and either (a) make the half threads surrounding the garter grove mor...

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Part 33: Leg Vise Chop Redux

08-23-2013 09:44 PM by RaggedKerf | 2 comments »

Okay, so if you follow this blog, you’ll know that last year I built a leg vice and attached it to the workbench I built over the summer. The chop on this vice was simply two pieces of 3/4” pine, about 6” wide, glued together and shaped (with some crude tools I had at the time and zero knowledge of what I was doing). Then I carved my initials and the year of it’s construction (2012) into it and made a nice little handle out of poplar. Well, it works. ThatR...

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Part 34: Slice and Dice the new Leg Vise Chop

08-27-2013 10:08 PM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

Finally got a chance to sweat in the shop….I mean work in the shop today. Wisconsin may not be as hot as Texas (ever) but we sure get some humid days and being inside the garage, even with a box fan going full blast is good recipe for weight loss! Today’s first order of business was to start crafting a carving mallet so I could do the details on the leg chop. I don’t have one and quite frankly, I just think they’re cool. But…I’m going to take a non-tr...

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Part 35: Leg Vice Chop Shaping Complete

08-28-2013 02:33 AM by RaggedKerf | 2 comments »

Got to spend some more time in the shop after I put the kids to bed. I continued shaping the chop and here is the result….one nicely beveled chop, using chisels and the Nice Ash block plane. A deadly combination—-that poplar never stood a chance. By the time I had all the bevels done (30minutes!) I realized I had time to go for flattening the sides, and I ended up with this: I am very happy with the results. Got a little workout in and finished the chop’s s...

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Part 36: Starting to Carve the new Leg Vise

08-30-2013 09:51 PM by RaggedKerf | 1 comment »

Got a little time in the shop left after repairing my jack plane iron—-that’s another post—-time to start carving! First I transfered the design using tracing paper (rub a pencil to cover the back in graphite, then retrace the design on the wood). Then I used a 1/2” bench chisel to make stop cuts around the larger portions of the banner. It will be draped over the bottom section of the dragons so it is the high ground, so to speak. After the stop cuts were ...

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Part 37: Carving update

09-01-2013 02:23 AM by RaggedKerf | 1 comment »

So I had some more time today in the shop and continued to work on the leg vise chop. There’s not much to tell, the picture show the progress. It was slow, sweaty work, but this is the result of about 2 hours. Had to hone the chisels but other than that, everything is progressing as planned. Finsihed the final shaping of the banner (just needs smoothing and sanding) and started in on the dragons! Woohoo! Really liking how the curled banner looks 3D! Thanks to Mary May and...

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Part 38: Leg Vise Chop Carving Update II

09-02-2013 11:50 PM by RaggedKerf | 0 comments »

There’s not much that words can express that pictures can’t outdo…I got to carve another 2 hours and it’s coming along nicely! And here it is next to the old one…

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Part 39: Leg Vise Chop Carving Update III

09-04-2013 09:41 PM by RaggedKerf | 5 comments »

Here’s the latest update. I scrapped the flames as too difficult for my skills/tools. Got all the dragons roughed in…now I can work on refining shapes and background consistency.

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Part 40: Leg Vise Chop Carving Finished

09-09-2013 09:21 PM by RaggedKerf | 10 comments »

Well, after two sweaty hours out in the shop today in ridiculous humidity, I was able to wrap up the last of the carving and put on the final touches. Here it is with the basic shaping and sanding complete. Then I went back with two different sized nail sets and gently hammered in a scale patter on the dragon heads and necks: And finally used my carving chisels and chip carving knife to cut the year numbers. Now it’s time to put a coat of clear shellac on the car...

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Part 41: Leg Vise Chop: Seating the Garter

09-10-2013 10:42 PM by RaggedKerf | 8 comments »

Good news bad news kind of day. Twice. The first thing that hit me today was that the bare spot I had filed into the threads on the leg vise “screw” (really a 5/8” threaded rod from the Borg) for the first chop won’t work on v2 because the chop is twice as thick. Soooo…half an hour of filing and I had this: Then I started making the garter. First I measured out a 2.5” square of 1/2” oak. Then took it to the drill press and punched ...

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Part 42: Leg Vise Chop Finished

09-14-2013 01:13 AM by RaggedKerf | 7 comments »

Finally wrapped this project up, after some setbacks. To correct the angled chop I had to see what was the problem: the hole drilled in the chop or the hole drilled for the coupler buried in the leg? First I tested the hole in the leg: Clearly, the threaded rod exiting the leg is off of perpendicular. Then, before I attacked the solution, I decided to check the chop: Huh. It’s off too! So, after some hand wringing, cussing, and a few beers, I took the case online ...

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