Building a work bench, jack plane and circular saw?

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Forum topic by notdan posted 09-14-2014 03:50 AM 1767 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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33 posts in 2714 days

09-14-2014 03:50 AM

Topic tags/keywords: roubo work bench

I’m wanting to build one of those fancy, laminated top workbenches and considering ripping 3” and 4” wide pieces out of a 2×12x12 (Douglas Fir, Home Depot special). I’m thinking I could rip two, 4” boards or two to three 3” boards from the width of the 2×12. I don’t have a table saw, though, and am considering ripping them with a circular saw, then using a jack plane to clean up the faces before laminating them together. Then using the jack plane to flatten the top.

Will this work or is it a bad idea for any reason?

7 replies so far

View Loren's profile


11367 posts in 4979 days

#1 posted 09-14-2014 04:06 AM

Without a planer at a bare minimum you won’t get
very good glue joints easily. It’s technically possible to
flatten one side of each laminate board and
plane the other side parallel, but it’s a lot of
work and the planer will produce a more consistent

That said, you can do it with a hand plane if you’re
game, for sure. The result may not have the tight joints
you’re imagining, but should serve its purpose
as a bench. You’ll need a means of clamping.

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 3424 days

#2 posted 09-14-2014 05:47 AM

You could flatten the top with a jack plane but using a planer will make your life considerably easier. And faster. And probably more accurate.

View BikerDad's profile


347 posts in 4932 days

#3 posted 09-14-2014 06:23 AM

It will work just fine, it will just be a lot of physical work. Make yourself a “jointing guide” for the circular saw so you can do a straight line rip. Figure on getting 2 4 1/2” pieces out of each 2×12. You’ll likely lose a half inch off each when you joint them, flatten them, etc, so you’ll end up with a final thickness of about 4”.

Make sure that you know how to sharpen that jack plane, because you will be doing a fair amount of sharpening. Pick the clearest lumber you can, because the knots in DF are HARD (and therefore unfriendly to plane blades), and the wood often decides to change direction by several degrees at the knots, which means even more wood ends up getting planed away to get to flat, square and straight.

What the previous folks have said is true though, a benchtop thickness planer will really make life simpler for you. You’ll still need to use the jack plane to joint the edges straight, and joint one face of the boards, but then you can thickness the boards and end up with parallel wood again, then glue things up.

Depending on where you’re at, you can save yourself a LOT of work by keeping an eye on Cragislist for gluelams. A 16’ x 5” x 12” gluelam can be easily turned into a 8’ x 5” x 24” wide benchtop. Find a longer gluelam, and you might have all your legs also.

-- I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park! Grace & Peace.

View notdan's profile


33 posts in 2714 days

#4 posted 09-15-2014 01:45 AM

Thanks for the info, I’ll have to give it some thought. I just watched a few videos of Paul Sellers gluing up a top that gave me some confidence, but I’ll have to think about it a bit more.

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2817 days

#5 posted 09-15-2014 01:58 AM

Ask for tip on the “hand plane of your dreams” thread. A lot of knowledge in there.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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Tim Anderson

152 posts in 3062 days

#6 posted 09-15-2014 02:11 AM

Honestly the circular saw is a step up from what I had when I made my bench. I spent a good 2+ hours digging through a pile for roughly quarter sawn 2×4s, got out my #4 plane, and went to town. Planed all the round edges off every board, finally got them ‘flat,’ glued them all up twisted, planed them ‘flat’ again, and now I’ve got a bench 1.5 years later still in good working order. (Though my definition of ‘flat’ has improved a bit since the initial bench building.

I say just dig in, and go for it. Your plan is doable. Just a lot of hard work, especially if you’re new to planing like I was. It’ll take some learning, and you’ll probably plane away more than you really needed to, but you’ll be learning the whole time. Get your plane sharp, make some shavings, have fun, and learn!

-- -Tim, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

View Aussie's profile


19 posts in 2733 days

#7 posted 09-29-2014 05:52 AM

I say just dig in, and go for it. Your plan is doable. Just a lot of hard work, especially if you re new to planing like I was. It ll take some learning, and you ll probably plane away more than you really needed to, but you ll be learning the whole time. Get your plane sharp, make some shavings, have fun, and learn!

- Tim Anderson

Good advice. I ‘m close to completing my own bench built 100% by hand (i work at night in a one car garage while wife & 12 month sleep).
It took me a few months but I am delighted at how it’s turned out considering being new to woodworking.
My compost bins have a lot of pine shavings happily rotting away.

-- The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made.

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