As the build of my Ambidextrous Grizz-ubo Bench nears its final stages, I find myself jumping all over to little odds and ends that need to be wrapped up. Todays post is a little diversion and just one of many out of order bits of the build that I wanted to show.
When I had the base of my workbench first inverted, I applied a few coats of danish oil to the underside. I figured that if I waited to do all of my finishing at the end, it would be much trickier that doing smaller sections when convenient. In any case, I applied about three coats to the underneath of the workbench base. I paid particular attention to the end grain of the legs.
The legs are 5 ½” square and will be sitting on the concrete in my garage/workshop when the bench is finally pressed into service. This is a lot of end grain surface area and will suck moisture out of the concrete if steps aren’t taken to prevent it. I don’t want the leg ends to rot.
In any case, I applied a lot of danish oil to the ends of the legs over the course of three coats. The end grain soaked up loads of finish, which is exactly what I had hoped for. I wanted the finish to get as deep inside the wood as possible. Danish oil is not a film finish so this was only step one of my anti-rot plan (protect the wood from within).
For step two I decided to add a few coats of a film finish as a moisture barrier. I didn’t want any film to get on the faces of the legs so I masked them off and only painted finish onto the end grain. I used Watco Wipe-on Poly, but I applied it with a brush. I built up about five heavy coats until the ends of the legs had a thick film covering them.
I wrote about some of this previously, in a post titled “A Quick Update on My Workbench Build”. Oh my god, I just realized that I wrote that post in October!!! In response to that post, Robert Demers left a comment suggesting that I apply a layer of rubber to the ends of the legs. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it, but as soon as I read it, I knew it was a genius plan. All the credit for this idea goes to Robert. Thanks!
I didn’t know where I could buy sheet rubber, but I had an idea to go to the local Les Schwab tire store and ask if they had any punctured inner tubes that they wished to part with. The nice lady at the store gave me one and wouldn’t accept anything for it.
Here’s what I got:
I got out the scalpel and straight edge and cut four pieces of rubber approximately 5 inches square. It was a little tricky to get them square, as the rubber is after all part of a tube and doesn’t want to lay flat. I washed the squares in hot soapy water to remove any dirt and grime that might interfere with a good glue bond later.
While running some errands, I stopped of at Home Depot and picked up small bottle of contact cement. I figured that this would be the best adhesive for gluing rubber to polyurethane.
As the instructions said, I brushed on a coat of the cement to both the sheet of rubber and the end of the leg. I left it to partially dry for about 15 minutes. I did two legs at a time.
Once the legs and the rubber had dried for the prescribed time, I carefully laid the rubber onto the leg ends. You have to make sure that you are positioning the rubber correctly because the stuff really does bond on contact. There’s no moving it around or adjusting it once the two parts are brought together. I then went over the rubber with a pressure roller. This same type of roller is used to apply laminate to counter tops.
This probably wasn’t necessary, but I set two heavy ammo cans on the first set of legs while I applied the glue to the second.
I repeated the process and moved the ammo cans to the freshly glued legs.
The next day, I decided to trim the rubber. Here’s what I was thinking: When I made the legs, I chamfered the bottom edges. This was done to help prevent splitting out the face of the leg when moving the bench on the shop floor. I figured that if this was good logic for the wood, then it ought to be good logic for the rubber. I think that chamfering the edge of the rubber should help to reduce the likelihood of it catching on the floor and bunching up or rolling up under the leg. Sure it’s an extra step, but what part of this bench build hasn’t been over the top?
And in the spirit of being thoroughly over the top, why not sand the newly cut bevels a little?
So, three coats of danish oil, five coats of poly, and a 1/16th inch of rubber. I think this might just prevent moisture wicking into the bottom of the legs.
Thanks for the great idea Robert!
I am very glad that I started this blog. I truly think that this bench will be a better end product for the ideas that readers have suggested along the way.
– Jonathan White