Gluing-up The Workbench Top

Wow, it has been a while since I last wrote a post, The Workbench Top Continues.  As it often does, life and work both got very busy for the past month and I haven’t gotten much woodworking done.  I took all of these pictures about six weeks ago but have only now gotten the time to write this entry.  So, here’s what is did:

I took the bench-top quarters, that I had previously glued up, and the sapele “pin-striping” (I don’t know what else to call it) and glued and clamped them together.  I left each in the clamps for a day before proceeding.  This left me with two bench-top halves.

The quarters were glued up into halves with a strip of Sapele in between them.

The quarters were glued up into halves with a strip of Sapele between them.

I was worried about introducing twist into the bench-top and didn’t think that my saw-horses were the best place to attempt the big glue-up.  I found some chunky pieces of hardwood in my lumber rack and set them on the garage floor.  Then I got down on my belly and sighted across them like winding sticks to ensure that they were in line.  I shimmed them until they appeared even.  I put newspaper on the floor and over the hardwood, the make cleanup easy and to make sure that I didn’t glue my bench-top to the hardwood supports underneath.

I applied the glue and sandwiched the slightly thicker piece of sapele “pin-striping” between the two bench-top halves.

The two halves were glued together with a slightly thicker strip of Sapele running down the middle.

The two halves were glued together with a slightly thicker strip of Sapele running down the middle.

I used just about every long clamp I have.

I was running out of clamps.

I was running out of clamps.

I got all the clamps in place and left it for a day to dry.

Here it is all clamped up and left to dry.

Here it is all clamped up and left to dry.

The next problem that I ran into… This thing is heavy!  It was sitting on my garage floor and I sure wasn’t going to be able to move it on my own.  I had a friend help me to get it back onto my saw-horses.

All the clamps off and back up on the saw horses.

All the clamps off and back up on the saw horses.

I thought about how to square up the ends.  The bench-top is 4 ½” thick, so a standard circular saw was out of the question.  I considered using a handsaw, but that seemed like a lot of work and I’m not a good enough sawyer that I felt able to accurately cut the ends square.  I asked my neighbor (who has a construction company) if he had a beam saw, and sure enough, he happened to have one.

I clamped a piece of oak to the bench-top to act as a fence for the saw.

I set up a guide strip to act as a fence for the saw.

I set up a guide strip to act as a fence for the saw.

This saw is a beast!  16″ blade!  If you have never used one, they are impressive enough to make you really think through your motions before you start it up.  It cut through the bench-top like a hot knife through butter.

My neighbor had a beam saw that he let me borrow.

My neighbor had a beam saw that he let me borrow.

I deliberately made the first cut longer than needed so that I could test the setup without the risk of unnecessarily shortening the bench.

I felt a test cut was in order.

I felt a test cut was in order.

I checked that the cut was square before proceeding.

Not too shabby!

Not too shabby!

I probably didn’t need to since the blade was very sharp, but I added some painters tape over the cut line to help with tear out.  I moved the fence and repeated the cut.

I re-adjusted the fence and made the final cut.

I re-adjusted the fence and made the final cut.

I repeated the process at the other end of the bench and squared up that end.

Time to cut the other end.

Time to cut the other end.

Here's the other end nicely squared up. You can see the off-cut on top of the clamps.

Here’s the other end nicely squared up. You can see the off-cut on top of the clamps.

I tried snapping the off-cut piece to test the glue, and was happy with the result.  In most cases the wood split before the glue-line did.

I suppose I could have left the bench-top just like this and gone no further, but I’m going to wrap the bench top in Sapele.  More on that to come.

Next up is the bread-board ends.  I already have the pictures, I just need to find time to write-up another entry.

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 Gluing-up The Workbench Top

  1. Pingback: Sapele Bread-board Ends for the Workbench Top | The Bench Blog

  2. one19design says:

    Question, Jonathan: I’m building my own bench now, and I’m wondering about how to cross-cut the ends of my glued up top… you used that giant circular saw for yours, but I was thinking about taking my time with a hand saw. Bad idea? Probably faster/cleaner results with a circ saw, I’m guessing…?

    • Jonathan says:

      Hello,

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using a handsaw. My only caution would be to make sure that the saw is cutting 90 degrees to the bench top (straight up and down). The cut might be a little rough, but you can easily refine that and clean it up with a hand plane. Another option to consider is using a smaller size circular saw to start the cut. If you run the saw against a track or straight edge, you will get a straight and crisp line on the top side and you can finish the cut with a handsaw. It’s an option, but there’s no problem doing it the way you suggest.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  3. Marvin McConoughey says:

    To cut very thick pieces with a conventional circular saw, one can also cut from both sides, making sure that the saw guide is identically positioned on each side of the bench top.

    • Jonathan says:

      Hello Marvin,

      You are certainly correct about being able to cut from both sides with a smaller saw. However, flipping a 200lb+ glue-up is easier said than done. My neighbor had the saw, and it just made sense for me to use it. Your point is an important one though for people who don’t have access to a beam saw. Thanks for commenting.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

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