Problems Joining My Workbench

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Forum topic by Mosterofnone posted 02-07-2013 09:25 AM 2158 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Mosterofnone's profile


22 posts in 3222 days

02-07-2013 09:25 AM

So I bought two large slabs of White Oak from a saw mill. The mill cut the slabs to my specified dimensions. I brought the slabs home and attempted to dress and join the edges with my #5 jack and #8 joiner hand planes. I quickly realized I was getting nowhere fast due to my inexperience, and decided to run the slabs through my friend’s power joiner and planer. I then made a large tongue and groove joint, and my excitement to put them together was quickly squelched, only find out one end of the bench was a 1/8th open along the joint, and the other side on the opposite face was open about a 1/16th of an inch open. The open parts of the joint gradually taper to being closed towards the center of the face. I asked my father about what I did wrong, and he asked me if I squared the slabs before I started. I said no. I thought running the slabs through the power joiner and planer would square the slabs. I guess I was wrong, because when I ran my square along the face of the board with the groove it is not flat. So long story short, I need help! I need to figure out how to get this joint flat before I can move on. Here is a link to my blog with a bunch of pictures of the workbench build. I tried to post pictures in this thread, but it would only let me post 5MB or less. All my pictures are greater than 5MB. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Please let me know if you need more info.

14 replies so far

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 4389 days

#1 posted 02-07-2013 10:05 AM

Those are some nice photo’s of your project. Looks like you brought home half the tree. I try to never bite off more than I can chew. You may have done that here. I am sure you will get some quality answers here to bail you out and make a nice bench. As you can see, this form on “Joinery” is really just getting started but you should be able to do a “search” to narrow down a solution. I am sure you have thought ahead to building the legs etc. and have it all down on paper. Good luck…......................

-- mike...............

View CplSteel's profile


143 posts in 3451 days

#2 posted 02-07-2013 10:49 AM

Just joint them again, the wood is so thick that the fact you have cut a tongue and groove shouldn’t make a difference on a jointer. That, or just plane down the high points where the pieces meet. Just keep working your way down there with your #8.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17571 posts in 3905 days

#3 posted 02-07-2013 10:59 AM

^ What Cpl said…

You’re simply jointing two very large boards and need to refine the joint be taking down the high points. Wow, that’s some benchtop you’re going to have. Incredibly beefy, and seriously heavy. Fitting the legs to this monster of a bench will be a similar exercise to the fitting of the top, but it will pay off over the long haul. My bench is a solid slab of oak; wouldn’t trade it for anything else at this point.

RE: pictures. There are ways in your camera to save pictures to much, much smaller size without sacrificing quality. Need to check into that when you take a break from you planing. :-)

EDIT: To get the edges square is truly secondary; you need each of the four edges to the straight… snapping a chalkline will do that, plane to the line. That will help close up your 1/8” gap for sure, and tell you more about the 1/16” problem.

Good luck!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View Marty5965's profile


161 posts in 3232 days

#4 posted 02-07-2013 12:04 PM

Wow, how thick are those slabs? That bench will be solid.

-- Marty, Wilmington, OH, learning every day....

View bondogaposis's profile


6069 posts in 3638 days

#5 posted 02-07-2013 02:16 PM

Mark your high points w/ lumber crayon and keep working them down until they mate up. It will take a lot trial and error and a lot of putting them together to check the fit and taking them apart to plane. In this case that will be a lot of heavy work because the timbers are so large. It will be worth it the in end though because that is going to make one nice bench.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 3962 days

#6 posted 02-07-2013 03:21 PM

MAN!! why drive a Toyota when there is a Kenworth out there….LOL This is a chore. I think the problem is the boards are not square. I am not trying to be a smart aleck here. To square a board you do it in this order. Face, edge, end, end, edge, face. Get a smooth flat face. Now you can put that against the fence of the jointer to make the edge 90 deg. and flat. Now you have 2 edges flat and square. I wouldn’t be too excited avout the ends on this project. I would take the planks to a saw and rip the second edge parallel to the first edge. Be careful to keep the smooth face ( the one you squared first) on the saw table. When you have this ripped to your satisfaction, plane it smooth. A minimum of works should be done. It seems the more you machine it the better chance you have of making it not square or not parallel. Now you can take it to the thickness planer and plane the second face parallel to the first face you jointed. This should glue up for you. I am using all power tools in my squaring process. I know people do it by hand but oak of this size would be a real chore. When using a jointer on wood this size it has to stay on the tables of the machine. otherwise it will surely sag as it comes off the tables and you will make it crooked. Good luck. Don’t let this thing fall on you.

View richardwootton's profile


1701 posts in 3242 days

#7 posted 02-07-2013 10:01 PM

Good Lord! You’re going to need a front end loader to move that bench! Was the wood kiln dried?

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

View rkober's profile


137 posts in 3579 days

#8 posted 02-07-2013 10:36 PM

That’s going to be a beauty of a bench. In addition to the above comments, my opinion is the slabs may be to big for the jointer that you have to effectively straighten/square. I don’t think you’re to far away from making that joint fit though. Mark the high spots of the grove side and start at it with your #8 (in the middle primarily). Keep test fitting. You may have the tongue bottom out and need to knock some off of that. What you have to understand is that this won’t be perfectly straight but the joint will close. A straight edge may be very helpful if you don’t have one. Hot roll steel, say 1/4” x 1” x 8’ would work.

-- Ray - Spokane, WA - “Most people don’t recognize opportunity because it’s usually disguised as hard work.” - Unknown

View Mosterofnone's profile


22 posts in 3222 days

#9 posted 02-08-2013 04:56 AM

Thank you everybody for the tips. I was actually able to get the 1/8th inch gap down to 1/16th. Still have a lot more work to go, but actually made some progress for the first time in awhile! I was shocked to see how many people replied to my post. The slabs are 6 inches thick, 12 inches wide, and almost 6 feet long. They were not kiln dried, but had been under a roof for four years. I bought a moisture meter that showed the wood was at 12% which was pretty close to the wood framing in my garage. Not ideal, but close enough. Thanks for all of the support! I will continue to post pictures on my blog as the project progresses, and well comment back on this post when its all done so you guys can take a look if you would like! Thanks again!

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 3642 days

#10 posted 02-08-2013 05:19 AM

ok, first you always joint the boards with the crowned side up, if you don’t, the board will tend to follow the crown. Second, if you are going to join one edge of the slab first, go ahead after that and work the thickness, then joint the width, this way your boards come out squared. Boards may also tend to cup a little after being worked, I seriously doubt that’s the case here because of the magnitude of those slabs, but it is a minor possibility, so try putting a clamp on it and seeing if it will pull up. If it does, then just glue and clamp. Also you may want to run a straight edge down your grooves to ensure you have them dead flat at the right depth.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View swesleybrown's profile


1 post in 3646 days

#11 posted 02-19-2013 02:08 PM

Chris Schwarz makes a bench much like yours with two large slabs of wood in his case they are cherry. You should check out his video at popular woodworking i think it would be very enlightening. In his video he just but joints the two large slabs together. Hope this helps

View rockom's profile


134 posts in 5158 days

#12 posted 02-19-2013 03:24 PM

I wish I had your problem! Take your time. You probably didn’t do anything “wrong” as far as making them flat and square. I’d say the wood is moving as suggested by others. Keep at it with the hand planes and creep up on it. I hope your joint holds once glued.

Does anyone have suggestions on how he can keep the joint together over time?


-- -> Malta, IL -<

View Marty5965's profile


161 posts in 3232 days

#13 posted 04-03-2013 04:02 PM

You should reduce the size of your pictures prior to posting them, there are lots of free programs out there that will do it. Average camera resolutions these days are 8~10 megapixels and web page res is about 250 dpi so you can reduce your pic filesize and resolution without losing quality and get most pics down to less than 200K easily (and still be bigger than the average users screen size).

-- Marty, Wilmington, OH, learning every day....

View Fettler's profile


206 posts in 3284 days

#14 posted 04-03-2013 05:43 PM

The core of the wood will have more moisture then outside. If you plane/ joint the wood then there could be some movement from moisture loss, specially with planks that thick. IMO, let it sit over night then square up the wood again. Also make sure you’re checking for bends with some winding sticks. You might be able to joint the pieces next to each other so that they will mate well, but they could be too thick for this.

I could be wrong, but for final glue up make sure you have plenty of clamping pressure.

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

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