I’m Finally Starting on the Workbench Base

It feels like I’ve been working on this workbench forever, and all I’ve managed to do is make the top.  In fact, I just went back and checked this blog and I started on the workbench in March.  Wow…  I can’t believe it’s been five months.  Thank god I’m not doing this for a living or I’d be in the poor house.

I glued up the legs ages ago, but thanks to a suggestion from Brian Eve at Toolerable, I did not mill them any further until now.  They have been sitting in the lumber pile waiting for their date with the jointer.

I retrieved the glued up legs from the lumber pile.

I retrieved the glued up legs from the lumber pile.

Jointing one face.

Jointing one face.

I squared one edge to the face.

I squared one edge to the face.

After jointing one face of the leg, I rotated the piece 90° and kept the freshly jointed face tight against the back fence.

After the mess I had when jointing the lumber for my benchtop, I made sure to check the jointer for proper set-up and re-squared the fence to the bed.  I also kept checking the legs for square.

I frequently checked the legs for square.

I frequently checked the legs for square.

Once two adjacent faces were jointed, I switched to the planer to finish the job.

Planing the opposing sides.

Planing the opposing sides.

I wanted all four legs to be the same dimensions, so I had to mill them all down to the size of the smallest.  One or two of them could have finished out at about 5 7/8″ but keeping them all the same left them at 5 ½” square.   I’d originally hoped for 6″ but I think I can live with 5 ½”.

All four legs milled square.

All four legs milled square.

Next, I pulled some of the stretcher material out of the lumber pile.  Each 8-foot length will yield one front stretcher and one side.  Since some of the boards had cupped or twisted a little, I cut them down to rough length prior to jointing.  There is no sense trying to get an 8-foot board dead flat only to cut it to a shorter length immediately after. You waste a lot of wood and time that way.

Milling the stretcher material to thickness.

Milling the stretcher material to thickness.

I’m going to make thick stretchers, so each one will be a glue-up of two of these pieces. They will finish out at about 5 7/8″ by 3½” and will incorporate a V for the sliding deadmen.  The stretcher material pictured below, finished out at 1¾” thick, so doubled, I’ll get the 3½” thick stretcher.

Here's the result of a little time at the jointer and planer.

Here’s the result of a little time at the jointer and planer.

I’m sure glad I didn’t attempt this with hand planes.  I love old tools, but this would have been miserable.  And it would have taken me three days.  I think I’ll save the hand tools for the joinery.  I put all of the pieces on stickers and I will check them again in a day or so to see they have moved at all.

I stickered them and left them overnight.

I stickered them and left them overnight.

One thing that was a problem while doing this was the sap.  This is not kiln dried lumber. I had this stuff custom milled and have had it air drying in my garage for about two years now.  Even after this long, there are large pockets of very wet sap in a few places.  This crap gets all over the jointer and planer and is so sticky that it stops the lumber feeding through smoothly.  I had to stop about 5 times and take paper towels with mineral spirits and clean off the sap from the bed of the jointer and the bed and rollers of the planer.  It was a major pain in the ass.

The other thing I managed to do was fill my dust collector to the top.  No, not just the top of the bag… to the very top of the pleated canister.  I don’t know how I managed that, but the jointer and planer do produce a lot of saw dust.  I have a metal trash can with a cyclone separator lid on it, but it doesn’t seem to work very well.  Once there is more than about 8″ of dust in the bottom of the trashcan, the rest goes all the way through to the dust collector bag.  I took the bag off the dust collector and you should have seen the mess I made in the shop.  I should have taken a picture, but I was a little too perturbed to think about it.

Oh well, even a frustrating day in the shop beats a good day at work.

– Jonathan White

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 I’m Finally Starting on the Workbench Base

  1. kmhatch says:

    Jonathan,

    I had to smile, having just finished a bench build, the full dust collector is one of the features of milling large stock. Happens quickly and a mess is an easy result. BTDT.

    I would think something is wrong with your system. I have a metal dust can with a cyclone separator and while the can fills quickly and if ignored will fill the bag but dust and chips do not go to the bag until the can is full.

    ken

  2. Pingback: Making the Stretchers for my Ambidextrous Grizz-ubo Bench | The Bench Blog

  3. Brian says:

    Hi all. I’m just starting my build and am enjoying all the comments. One in particular made me smile which was about the shop being a work in progress. I’ve been using my shop for some 20 years and I’m still deliberating the “ideal spot” for the various bit of kit I’ve acquired. One day I may make a decision and be done. Or then again lol

    Brian (uk)

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Brian,

      I think that the shop will always be a work in progress. I’ve got a hundred and one things that I want to do, but that pesky job seems to keep me from getting them done. 🙂 🙂

      Thanks for commenting and good luck with your bench build. I hope you find the “ideal spot” for it.

      Jonathan

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