Milling the Lumber for my Workbench Top

I have begun milling the lumber for my workbench top.

Planing the lumber for my workbech top

Planing the lumber for my workbench top

I took the rough sawn lumber out of the drying stack and jointed one face, paying particular attention to ensure that any cup or bow was facing down.  I then jointed one edge to ensure that it was straight and 90 degrees to the face.  Next, I planed the timbers to thickness.  I only took enough material off of each to have a smooth and flat final timber. I was not shooting for any particular thickness, rather trying to get the maximum yield out of each timber and keep it as thick as possible. Those timbers that had to be passed over the jointer more times to remove any cupping or bowing obviously ended up thinner after final planing. I saw no added benefit in planing all of the timbers down to the thickness of the thinnest one.

All the boards jointed (face and one edge) and planed to thickness.

All the boards jointed (face and one edge) and planed to thickness.

At some point in the middle of milling this lumber, a new Byrd Shelix cutterhead that I had ordered arrived and I paused for a couple of days while I tore down my planer and installed the new head.  Wow… that thing is fantastic.  The surface it leaves is really impressive.  I can’t get over how much quieter the machine is.

My planer on the cart that I built for it.

My planer on the cart that I built for it.

Once all of the timbers were planed, I had to rip them all to width.  They all started at about 5 1/8″ x 2 1/8″ but two of the boards had bowed over their length more than any of the others, and after jointing, were narrower.  I had to base the bench top thickness on the narrowest board.  I was hoping for 4 3/4″ but couldn’t quite get it.  I ended up ripping all of the boards at 4 11/16″

Ripping the pieces to width.

Ripping the pieces to width.

A nicely cleaned up edge.

A nicely cleaned up edge.

16 of these to rip to width. It took a little while.

16 of these to rip to width. It took a little while.

The resulting mess got feed to the wood stove.

The left over detritus.

The left over detritus.

I got all 16 of the cleaned up boards onto the saw horses and started to sort them.

All 16 pieces, now S4S.

All 16 pieces, now S4S.

I think it will be a pretty substantial bench top when it is all put together.

A beefy bench top in the making.

A beefy bench top in the making.

I was trying to best arrange the boards for appearance and group them to match grain and color.  I wanted four groups of four, as I felt that four boards was the most I wanted to glue up at onetime.

Grouping the pieces for grain and color match.

Grouping the pieces for grain and color match.

Getting better, but still not quite there.

Still not quite thrilled with this arrangement, but making progress.

Still not quite thrilled with this arrangement, but making progress.

Once I had an arrangement that I could live with, I glued up the first section.  I used a 6″ paint roller and spread Titebond III onto both sides of each joint.  By the time I was finished applying the glue to the fourth board, the first was starting to set up.  I had to move quick.

Four boards turned out to be a good call, trying to do more wouldn’t have worked.  My plan is to later join the bench top quarters into halves, and then in a separate glue up, the halves into the whole bench top.

I used loads of clamps and some scrap plywood to avoid denting the doug fir too much.

Gluing up the first quarter of the bench top.

Gluing up the first quarter of the bench top.

My poor table saw got used as an assembly table out of necessity.  I really need a workbench.

All clamped up.

All clamped up.

I left the whole assembly in the clamps for 24 hours.  The next day, I repeated the process. I did this each day after work until each quarter of the bench top was done.

Next up… Jointing and planing the bench top quarters.

About Jonathan

I am a woodworker and hand tool restorer / collector. I buy too many tools and don't build enough - I need help!
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5 Responses to Milling the Lumber for my Workbench Top

  1. Pingback: The Workbench Top Continues | The Bench Blog

  2. Ray says:

    I liked your work going to try myself soon

  3. Matthew says:

    What’s the ID for the planer your are using?

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Matthew,

      My planer is a Grizzly G1021 15″ Planer that I have upgraded with a Byrd Shelix cutter-head. Also, I wasn’t fond of the stand it stood on, so built a cart for it. Hope this helps.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

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