a 21st century bench with engineered wood #1: starting

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Blog entry by metolius posted 04-19-2019 07:09 PM 400 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I’ve been on the thought of building a workbench for several years.

What’s held me back ?

- My shop is a mess, I’ve neglected organization and now 1/3 of my space is a pile of scrap and lumber.

- It’s hard to budget for nice things

- Indecision ; How do I want to work ? Where is woodworking going to take me next ?

What I do know right now, is that I want to enjoy my hand tools and my bench/tables don’t hold my work. A day may be a series of awkward improvisations.

After much reading and thinking I have considered many roubo, danish, and english variations. For how I expect to use a new bench I want something roubo-ish. Something with a knockdown option is good too.

Without much budget, I need to work with as much of what I have as possible. What I do have are 2 and a half sheets of 38mm plywood that I suspect are 40 years old. I bought them from a neighbor on CL a few years ago without a plan and they have been a shop obstacle ever since.

Not beautiful; there will be compromises ; but, most of the delamination isn’t too deep.

Thoughts stewed, and after long inspection of the material, I decided that there was enough good material to setup something that looks like the foundation of Bob Lang’s 21st century bench. (PW 10/2008 #171) .

a form like this:

I’ll laminate the legs in 3 layers, forming the mortises of the stretchers as it is glued up.

First steps are breaking down the sheets to 12inch strips.

And they will sit here while I build up a lumber rack to clear up some floor space.

The weathered plywood may be a weak thing for some roles. I’ll consider some accommodation for it as I go, perhaps a block of hardwood for floor contact and hardwood strips where the stretchers hold unto the the legs.

What to do for the bench top still needs to be discovered. As this is kicking off with unconventional materials, I may expand on it and try something odd like a couple beams of Parallam PSL. There is an interesting video on How to finish a Parallam Beam that looks like an option. (and a lot of effort )

I am also undecided about using a twin screw as front vise as Bob Lang did. Some people find them clunky … some people love them. Should I go for it ?

-- derek / oregon

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