Workbench #4: I cheated

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Blog entry by Dan Wolfgang posted 12-20-2016 01:57 AM 2080 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Sorting the wood Part 4 of Workbench series Part 5: The Rear Top »

I didn’t stare at my pile of lumber much before I started thinking about how long it was going to take to hand plane to dimension. Based on the limited time I get to do this stuff it would take me weeks, if not months, to complete. I really do enjoy using the hand planes, but gee, I’d like to actually make the bench so that I can use it to make other things.

I thought about my options for a little, then bought a DeWalt 735X thickness planer. Amazon’s $475 price was the lowest ever and it receives rave reviews, so I jumped. This bench will let me do bigger projects, so the ability to quickly dimension is surely going to be useful in the future, too. So, I did it, I bought a planer so I could cheat and get it done.

On Sunday I went through my pile of “A,” “B,” and “C” boards. I hand planed a little twist out of a few of them, then put them through the planer. (By the way, on a recent trip to Home Depot I was able to add another “A” grade piece and another “B” grade piece.)

I was able to get all of them nicely planed down to 1-1/4” thick in a few hours, and they all look quite good! The “B” and “C” graded pieces are pretty much indistinguishable now. With the “A” pieces I’ve now got 23 boards that will make a great top. That’s not to say it’s all perfect, of course, but the top side will surely look great.

Excited to visualize my bench, I slid all of the wood together to see the top. Nice.

Of course, once done I had to clean up. Incidentally, knowing how loud and messy this was going to be I didn’t work in the basement shop area but instead pushed into the garage with “dust collection” happening outside. This is 50 gallons of wood shavings. I’ll dump it on the fruit bush garden this week—fertilizer!

8 comments so far

View Picken5's profile


327 posts in 3661 days

#1 posted 12-20-2016 05:10 AM

Yep, those planers do create a ton of wood chips, don’t they. (I know — I also have a Dewalt planer like yours, and it’ll fill my DC’s chip bin faster than any other tool in my shop.)

-- Howard - "Time spent making sawdust is not deducted from one's lifetime." - old Scottish proverb

View johnstoneb's profile


3165 posts in 3142 days

#2 posted 12-20-2016 02:36 PM

That is going to be a nice bench top.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Chuck Anstrom's profile

Chuck Anstrom

92 posts in 3994 days

#3 posted 12-20-2016 02:36 PM

I have been told not to use sawdust as mulch…

“And don’t use any sawdust! If you mix sawdust into your soil, nothing will grow there for a year or more. Pure wood materials like sawdust and wood shavings are super-high in carbon, and their carbon will absorb all of the plant-feeding nitrogen in your soil in its quest to decompose. After it DOES decompose, the soil WILL be richer, but for that first year or two it’ll be a plant graveyard.”

see “”

-- Chuck Anstrom - Virginia

View Dan Wolfgang's profile

Dan Wolfgang

176 posts in 1777 days

#4 posted 12-20-2016 04:39 PM

Thanks for the feedback, Chuck. My wife has been saying she wanted to use my wood shavings in her garden but never got around to adding them. I never asked if it was a good idea since the garden is her area! Perhaps I’ll just dump it in a pile in our back woods for now.

View Daniel's profile


79 posts in 1972 days

#5 posted 12-20-2016 06:04 PM

Chuck is right but I think that while shavings do pull nitrogen you can balance things out by purchasing a bit of blood-meal from the store and mix it in. Personally I don’t worry about it. I have yet to have anyone explain to me the difference between sawdust from the shop & mulch (which everyone seems okay with). OP Dan if you do smaller amounts than the 50 gal you should be okay if it has decomposed before the next addition. Just a thought. Nice work on the bench so far. I’m jealous :P

View Ted78's profile


415 posts in 2970 days

#6 posted 12-20-2016 07:32 PM

I think as long as the wood chips are mixed with at least 50% high nitrogen stuff like grass clippings it should be fine. Though might be better off composting it first before adding to the garden.

-- Ted

View Ted78's profile


415 posts in 2970 days

#7 posted 12-20-2016 07:37 PM

Difference between sawdust from the shop and mulch is simply the size of the particle and the increased surface area of the sawdust. It means the sawdust will decompose faster using up more nitrogen in it’s quest to decompose in a shorter amount of time. This is only an issue if there isn’t enough nitrogen to go around. Which can be fixed by adding grass clippings, kitchen scraps, blood meal etc.

BTW congrats on the new planer, I’ve been trying to convince myself for quite a while now I need one.

-- Ted

View NormG's profile


6508 posts in 3974 days

#8 posted 12-21-2016 01:42 AM

Looks like you make a great purchase for a worthy cause

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

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