a 21st century bench with engineered wood

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Blog series by metolius updated 06-01-2021 01:12 AM 15 parts 10710 reads 14 comments total

Part 1: starting

04-19-2019 07:09 PM by metolius | 0 comments »

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 awk...

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Part 2: restarting after a long pause

06-16-2020 05:06 PM by metolius | 0 comments »

Last I left this topic was last year or before, leaving it at “What is to be done for the bench top?” I really wanted to get a couple beams of Parallam PSL, parallel stranded lumber. There is an interesting video on How to finish a Parallam Beam that looked like fun. When I queried for a quote for two 4×12, 8 foot beams. They replied with $370USD. That is about $6/bf ! I was torn. I have been scanning Craigslist ads for several months looking for someone may have...

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Part 3: forming legs and standing it up

07-02-2020 05:51 PM by metolius | 2 comments »

While gluing up sections of boards for the benchtop, I started working on the legs. The legs are to be 3 layers of 1.5 inch ply on the sides with the lower long rail tailed into the middle layer and the upper long rail tailed into the outer layer. The inner most layer of the leg is mortised for the the short rails. After marking out each per tenon, I drilled out the centers and chiseled to fit. A chisel and ply don’t mate for a satisfying experience. I soon found my most ...

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Part 4: forming rails and solid wood diversions

08-13-2020 02:22 AM by metolius | 2 comments »

Bob Lang’s bench joins rails to legs with very big dovetails for knockdown as illustrated here. From my experience of mortising plywood described in my last entry on this thread, I put chisels aside and attacked these dovetails with a router template. The angled offcuts from the template making were handy for clamping and replicating the angle for machine setup. All came out with symmetry. The rails are embedded into the legs as a 3 layer plywood sandwich.The lower rail is we...

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Part 5: leg sandwiches

09-02-2020 12:41 AM by metolius | 0 comments »

The final layers of legs for Lang’s workbench using 1.5” plywood. Using solid wood, the rabbets for the upper and lower stretchers of the bench would be cut on opposite sides of on 8/4. Using plywood, I chose to go down the path where each side of the rabbets are different pieces. So, where Bob used one board, I used 4 boards and glue forming a thick sandwich. I started with short boards set flush, then proceeded with sneaking up to the fit of the longer boards. ...

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Part 6: tasks of intermission

09-14-2020 07:35 PM by metolius | 0 comments »

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. Rails 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...

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Part 7: shelving !

09-26-2020 06:53 PM by metolius | 2 comments »

Shelving ! The shelving is laminated from plywood scraps that were cut into 1.12” strips, turned 90% and glued back together. The sequences of glue/clamp/wait were numbing the mind. The shelf on the top rails is made to so that it easily slides left or right, so that its conveniently not in the way. Its in the spirit of an under the benchtop drawer without being a drawer. The sliding surfaces are 1/2” hickory re-sawed from a 4/4 board and with one piece glued to t...

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Part 8: vise fitting preparation

10-01-2020 12:37 AM by metolius | 0 comments »

I left my last posting with a question of vise commitment. While I haven’t committed 100% about which vises to get, I did make a run to the Rockler store with a 20%-off coupon to pick up a simple 7-inch quick release for the end vise. I am pretty sure I will get a Veritas twin-screw for the face vise unless someone convinces me that Hovarter is much better. I got the end vise first because it was easy to get… and I could size up how much length was required at the end of t...

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Part 9: dog holes

10-12-2020 06:23 AM by metolius | 2 comments »

With core construction completed, I moved on to considering dog hole arrangements. The top is in two 12inch wide segments that sit about 6.5 inches apart. I found that with my front vise layout, the closest I could get the dog holes which project along the front edge from the end vise was 2.75 inches. The end vise, with chops, provides 6.75 inches of travel, which led me to go with a distance of 6 inches between center holes. I drew these out to the right half of the front vise, sk...

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Part 10: ply-void filling

11-16-2020 10:00 PM by metolius | 0 comments »

I will not hide the plywood voids, they will be filled BLUE. Using an ultra-marine blue powder + water putty, I tried to replicate the color of a bright horizon sky blue. I found that, since water putty is more cream colored than “white”, if the hue was made too light, it would start to become more of a a blue-gray than a light blue. After trials I didn’t quite get to the tone I had in mind; but I like where it ended up. I settled on 8 tablespoons of putty to 1/2 ...

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Part 11: taming ply voids in the base

03-18-2021 10:13 PM by metolius | 0 comments »

This bench is unfinished but it has worked alright through winter. Winter projects are done, so Ive decided to take take it apart and bring the bench closer to completion. The base is the focus in this phase; and its all about surfacing. And filling surface voids .. with blue. After some patience and a few coats of oil, it all wasn’t too hard. .. and has started to look snazzy. With that base, my focus can move to the top bits where the work gets done.

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Part 12: installing a V-Twin

04-03-2021 03:29 AM by metolius | 0 comments »

I waited for a while on backorder for Veritas to get a twin screw shipped out. Yet it did come a couple weeks sooner than initially estimated. The back chop is a piece of 8/4 hickory that has been waiting for a very long time. The front chop is from the same board, but its a little thinner because I had to plane out a lot of skew. The original 21st century Lang bench had pieces of wood glued to the bottom of top on each side of the front leg. I chose to work the wood around the leg so...

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Part 13: top slab completion

04-05-2021 12:41 AM by metolius | 2 comments »

Step of completion for the top 1 – tail vise install2 – plane stop install 2 – alignment and bolting down3 – final oiling The tail vise is a rockler 9 inch vise. I described the initial fitting in an earlier blog entry in this series. I delayed installing it until the V-twin vise was installed and fitted because this vise is heavy and I needed to move the top around a bit for for fitting the V-twin. Its held by 4×3/8 carriage bolts through the top and a 3/...

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Part 14: tool trays

05-20-2021 01:50 AM by metolius | 3 comments »

Bob Lang’s 21st Century bench was originally made with 4 removable tool trays between the top beams. The trays may be individually removed or flipped over for a solid space. Ive seen build pictures of 3, 4, or 5. I chose to work with 4, each about 23 inches long. I’ve noticed that I often place my chisel into the closest open dog hole to hold it; and I get flustered if my current chisel is too wide to fit. For this, I wanted to build a chisel rack into the bench. Th...

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Part 15: dogs and pegged legs

06-01-2021 01:12 AM by metolius | 1 comment »

Accessorizing with bench dogs and a bit of miscellaneous is the final entry, #15 in this series. Getting it all done after a long road was almost anti-climatic; but the bench has been finished enough to be used and useful for the past six months; a familiar tool before its completion. I started bench dogs by getting 6 prairie dogs for the vise chops from Lee Valley, they work really well for the blind holes that would otherwise fill with chips. For the other dogs, I started with some h...

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