a 21st century bench with engineered wood #6: tasks of intermission

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by metolius posted 09-14-2020 07:35 PM 463 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: leg sandwiches Part 6 of a 21st century bench with engineered wood series no next part

After completing the legs illustrated in the last entry, not a whole of much has been going on.

Yet, there was a time I was in fear of being stranded in eastern Oregon for a bit without a road non-burning going west…. but that’s not a about a bench.

For discussion today: rail fitting, vises, shelves, and plywood voids.


With the legs formed there was some final fitment to do for the rails. First was drilling out 27 dog holes. 9 on each rail. I believe Bob Lang only dogged the side of the bench with the face vise. I covered it all.

With only 2.3 inch of throw on my little press, I had to finish them with a hand drill. This is using a wolfcraft guide. Its not my favorite thing; there is a bit of play in the upper bearing that allows the bit tip to move 1/8 inch or so. It requires a lot of care, but its better than by hand. For 4x the price there are other options, and Rockler released their own branded version this year. I’m curious if these have more precision, or if its a similar risk of error in a better looking package.

Mr Lang attached the upper rails and top with lag bolts – he also used solid ash. For plywood, I don’t trust a lag bolt to be installed and removed many times before failure. I chose to instead use 3/8 stainless nut+bolt. I strapped the legs together with the rails in place to keep it all held tight to drill through. A 7/8 counter bore on the front and back keeps the hardware below the surface plane.

With those set in place firmly, I could flush the ends. A trim router took out most of it, leaving a quarter inch to take out with a hand plane.

I followed that with trimming the wedges into a more reasonable shape.


The way the top is integrated with the vises, I don’t want to go far down that road until the vises are in hand. I’ll leave the top’s final glue-up until I am certain how the vises and the vise chops will integrate. Knowing how slowly that may go, I expect to have the base completely finished before I do much more with the top.

For now, I have extended the width of some of the bench tops with another glue up. These now consist of 2 beams 9in wide, and 2 which are 3in wide, these will finalize as 2×12inch beams.

I am pretty sure that I will have a 7inch iron vise on the tail. For the face, Bob Lang chose a Veritas twin screw with a 24in center. I am leaning that way, but I haven’t sold myself on a commitment.

My order of interest ….

Today’s front runners are Hovarter or Veritas

Next steps
  • shelves on the lower rails
  • ply void treatment

Shelves !

I’ve taken inventory of the 1.5in ply cutoffs and my calculator told me that I if I cut them 1.12 in thick then reglue them on their sides, I will have enough material for a shelf along the length of the lower rails.

It was ugly lumber on the table, but after slicing it up, I gained confidence that this will work well. I will glue them up as 11 inch panels that will be ship lapped together across the length of the bottom rails.

Using the cutoffs from those pieces, I believe I can make this patch work into a shelf that straddles the top rails in a way that it could slide from side to side. I am pretty excited about this idea.

With that done, that’s nearly all of the 2.6 sheets of ply I started with. What’s left won’t fill a bucket.

Treating the plywood voids

I acquired some Ultramarine Blue dry pigment for and experimented with mixing it into Durhams water putty.

Filling the ply voids, the first thing learned is that the grain needs to be filled. The end grain layers of the ply soak up the dye quite deeply. I tried a glue wash, a shellac wash, a sanded danish oil coat and combinations. What worked best for me to prepare for void filling.
  • 1lb cut shellac wash coat mixed with water putty 1:10 / apply and dry
  • one thin coat dasnish oil / apply and dry
  • Blue dye mixed with water putty 1:35 / apply and dry
  • chip off the proud filler with a chisel and sand
  • apply danish oil and sand until done

This pic is a color study using holes drilled into a sample. The color ratio I chose is on the top left of the pic below.

Meanwhile, it will be about shelves.

Please comment vise opinions.

-- derek / oregon

0 comments so far

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics