A few months back I stumbled upon the tail end of a two-day garage sale where a huge box of oak flooring sat in a dusty corner nobody wanted. Not enough to floor a room but enough for a knock-about benchtop. For $5, glued to oak ply sheets it looks a beauty. You can bang away to your heart's content.Building a Work Bench
I did a trade for some woodwork with a guy who had a garage full of lumber and several nice hand tools. Most of the lumber was Oak.
I don't really like working with Oak. But I thought it would be perfect for a bench, and there was enough of it. I got lots of different lengths and widths. Most of it was 3/4". I forgot to take a "before" photo of the stack but here is a sample:
Now I intend to make a nice, sturdy bench, but its going to be more functional than artful masterpiece. Just something that I can really use with hand tools. Its my first bench, and there will be others later. So I really want this to be a quick project so I can get back to work on the stuff I really want to build.
Some may call this a "hack job." Call me a butcher, but I didn't even bother ripping the strips to the same width. As long as one side is flat, thats all that matters.
I started by rolling on the glue and clamping together sections of a half-dozen or so boards:
Then I glued up two of those sections:
At this point I have two sections that are less than 8" wide. This way they will fit on my 8" jointer to get one flat side.
Here is what the top will look like (It hasn't been jointed yet)
Here is the underside (notice the uneven widths)
The ends of the tool tray:
The sections laid out and ready for final assembly:
Don't worry, that endgrain will be covered with an end piece. For less than $20 bucks I got enough 4×6 and 2×6 Doug Fir for a very sturdy base. I also have a piece of solid mahogany re-claimed from an old desk for a bottom shelf, and a huge woodworking vice I got years ago at the flea market.
My friend the glue chisel…
On a side note, I thought I would take a moment to appreciate a very under-rated tool… My glue chisel. Its the old workhorse who doesn't whine or complain about the not so glamorous tasks like scraping semi-wet glue off a workpiece, gouging out a nail, prying double-stick-taped jigs apart, or popping bark off of a log.
Everyone should have a "glue chisel" ...someone's got to do the dirty work.
My trusty "glue chisel" has been with me more than 30 years. Opens paint can lids and scrapes glue from concrete floors, it's one of my best beloved tools.