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Blog series by Dan Wolfgang updated 06-22-2017 01:42 AM 16 parts 29562 reads 55 comments total

Part 1: Getting ready to build my first workbench

12-01-2016 01:55 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 7 comments »

I’m very excited to say I’m going to build a workbench in the near future. Last week, I decided to start on a necklace rack for my wife. I have a piece of cherry that I could resaw and use to make a panel for it and I thought it’d look great. But, that piece of cherry has quite a bit of twist to it I would need to plane out. No problem, but… sigh. I really, really enjoy using my (small but growing) collection of hand planes, but really don’t have a good surfac...

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Part 2: Wood selected

12-05-2016 08:59 PM by Dan Wolfgang | 2 comments »

I’ve made a few more visits to Home Depot and combed through pallets of Burrill 2×4s. I was a little surprised how quickly HD seems to sell through them: over 1-1/2 weeks my local store sold four pallets worth of those 2×4s. I looked through almost all of them, so if my math is right I probably checked 1000+ 2×4s and ended up picking out 44 of them. I found a number of them that are 100% knot-free. Many have a large knot-free area, and most that do have knots are live and...

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Part 3: Sorting the wood

12-12-2016 02:03 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 4 comments »

My 2×4 Burrill “white fir” lumber has been drying in the basement: all of it for a week, some of it for 2+. I bought a moisture meter to measure the wood moisture and see much of it in the 5-8% range and some of it 10%. Comparing to other scraps in the basement that seem to have that same range, so I’m guessing that’s good—I should probably cut a few pieces to check inside better, though. Anyway, most of the boards are still quite straight but a few have dev...

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Part 4: I cheated

12-20-2016 01:57 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 8 comments »

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 lo...

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Part 5: The Rear Top

12-31-2016 01:31 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 2 comments »

Significant progress: I assembled the rear half of the top! In the previous blog post, I ran the 2×4s through the planer to take them to 1-1/4” thick. I had to use the jointer plane on several to take out some bend or crook so that they would glue up nicely. Then I started the glue-up! One of the biggest reasons I come to LumberJocks is for the photos, and I bet that’s true of others, too, so I made sure to take some. Nine wide, and I have a pro...

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Part 6: The Front Top (Well, Partly)

01-17-2017 02:00 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 2 comments »

This update is about two weeks past due. I glued up the front half of the top over the last few days of the Christmas/New Year’s break. I didn’t take too many photos this time. This one was quicker to build because in this “finished” state it’s missing three more boards for the front, which are for the dog hole strip and other front laminations. As a reminder I’m sort of following the Benchcrafted split-top Roubo design and building with Home Dep...

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Part 7: Installing the Tail Vise

02-02-2017 02:20 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 1 comment »

I’ve wished for a tail vise almost since I first started working with hand planes. I have tried holding pieces in various ways but always thought a tail vise would be the best solution. Benchcrafted’s wagon vise looks like a great solution and I only see good things about it. But boy, is it expensive, and I’m not sure I want to spend that much money, especially when the wood for my bench is also so inexpensive. So, I bought a Lee Valley tail vise screw ($40) and I’m re...

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Part 8: Base Progress

03-05-2017 01:16 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 3 comments »

It’s been a month since I last shared an update here. I’ve been making lots of progress on the base, making legs and stretchers and fitting it all together. The tail vise has gotten a lot of use since I completed it! I’m really glad I put it in the top. Here I used the vise with a hand screw to hold the leg so I could cut the tenons. With the tenons in the rails cut and mortises chopped into the legs, I was able to see some real progress! I didn’t...

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Part 9: Time for a break

03-07-2017 02:27 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 1 comment »

Over the weekend I worked on the bench a bit. I marked many areas of the base to drill holes: to drawbore tenons, planned out the leg vise, etc. Saturday afternoon I felt like I was a little stuck. I really need to drill some holes to get things together and continue with the base. I don’t have a drill press so would have to drive over to my parents’ house to use my great-grandfathers press. My wife told me to just go on Saturday; I should have listened to her but didn’t....

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Part 10: Leg vise

05-06-2017 11:20 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 2 comments »

Despite no updates in two months, I have actually been busy. One thing I worked on was the leg vise. I was originally going to make a parallel guide that I could pin at the bottom of the leg/vise. But all of that bending over made me decide that $100 for the Benchcrafted criss-cross hardware would be worth it. I had to cut a giant mortise in the leg to make room for the hardware. I started with the chisel and hammer, but turned to the router to get it done more quickly. I know that I say I pr...

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Part 11: Assembling the Base

05-25-2017 01:18 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 3 comments »

At this point I had the base components complete and had dry-fitted several times, but I didn’t want to assemble it until the leg vise was complete. Now that the leg vise was done, I could get everything assembled. Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I can assemble the base I needed to make the shelf ledgers that would fit into the base stretchers. A groove in the stretcher would support the pressure from the ledgers. Ok, now that the ledgers were made and the ...

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Part 12: Adding the Shelf

06-04-2017 01:05 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 4 comments »

With the base complete and the shelf ledgers in place, I wanted to get the shelf added. The shelf would be really useful in that it would allow me to set my planes nearby but out of the way. Ok, so the spot I’ve been storing my planes is only about four steps away, but still, having them within reach seems like a great advance. It’ll surely make me more productive, right? I’ve been using 2×4s from Home Depot to build the majority of the bench. I intended to use the l...

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Part 13: The Gapstop

06-05-2017 01:03 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 5 comments »

Stating the obvious here, but Benchcrafted’s split-top Roubo bench uses two slabs for the top. Rather than joining them, they are kept separate throughout the build. Another component, the “gapstop” goes between them, and offers some additional functionality. This is one of the features that sold me on the Benchcrafted design. I bought some nice birch to use for the gap stop. It has a bit of color that will add a little contrast between the white 2×4s of the rest of ...

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Part 14: The Sliding Deadman

06-20-2017 01:46 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 2 comments »

The last notable piece of my bench build left is the sliding deadman. I had bought a cut-off scrap of ash to use to make the rail the deadman would slide on, but as I measured what I needed I realized the scrap was far bigger than I needed. I grabbed some smaller scraps of red oak to make the rail. When I brought them into better light I realized one piece was red oak and one was white oak. Well, good enough—I got these pieces cleaned up, glued together, and shaped. And once shap...

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Part 15: Odds and Ends

06-22-2017 01:35 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 0 comments »

With all of the major pieces of the bench done, I took care of a few details. The left front leg needed a recess to get at the bench dog to push it out, as well as to let it sit low for thin stock. The right ends of the bench top needed to be cut nicely. After cutting I planed them a little so that they’re smooth. Several weeks back I was reading about UV staining (thanks Ron Aylor). It’s most commonly done with cherry, to bring out the reddish color in the wo...

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Part 16: Done Enough

06-22-2017 01:42 AM by Dan Wolfgang | 9 comments »

I’m going to say the workbench is done. Eight feet long, 29” wide, 35” tall, and weighs about 300 pounds. It’s strong, stable, and flat. The vises move smoothly and clamp immovably tight. Six months, and I’d estimate about 250 hours. Actually using the bench has been awesome—having a tool of such quality and capability has already improved what I can do when working with wood. And it seems to work well for my son Patrick, too! Well, maybe I shoul...

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