Benchtop with a Bench

I’ve already established that my bench isn’t finished but it is usable. That’s enabled me to complete a few projects to get a little bit of woodworking income which in turn has steered me away from making any progress. Well I’ve finally made it back to bench building. Thinking back to the very beginning when I first started building the front half of the top, I thought of how my knees would ache from all the hours of milling on the ground just to get the first eight boards laminated.  Those painful memories have begun to fade.

Using the bench to mill the boards for the second half has not only made the chore less painful on my body but has also allowed me to complete it in a fraction of the time. No more planing on the floor, checking flatness with the winding sticks on the saw bench, back to the floor, back to the saw bench, etc… With the use of the bench, I seem to have been able to knock out the complete second half in just two days of after work shop time.

Since there was nothing exciting about building the other half of the top, I didn’t document anything. I did take the time to take a shot after I cleaned it up after I got it out of the clamps.

IMG_5710I did get the mortises in the top but let me just say it was about 2230 (1030 pm for you non military types) when I did them… That being said, I may not have measured things with my full attention. I cut my mortises at 10-3/4″ from the right side instead of 11-3/4″ so things are a little off.

IMG_5711I have no intentions on fixing it either. I thought about adding a chisel holder there but we’ll see. Although she looks done, there is still quite a bit left to do. The left side still needs to be trimmed flush with the front, gotta make the planing stop, I have to build the center piece, secure the top to the legs, flatten the top and finally add an oil/varnish finish. I may actually meet my end of 2012 deadline!

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The Planing Stop

I thought about writing one complete post on building the entire top but as I things tend to change and have to be redone, I thought it best to knock out each phase.

As I mentioned in the Split Top Hybrid Roubo post, at the time of my design change I already had four pieces laminated and five more being milled. This was perfect for continuing with the new design. Each of the newly milled piece needed either a groove, dado or dog hole cut into it that would been a royal pain/impossible to do if they were already laminated. Yes, I could have used that part of the top for the back section of the split top but I really wanted to knock out the front half first.

My first task at hand was the planing stop. First I had to cut a 2″ wide dado, 5/8″ deep in the front section of the laminated pieces.

I debated about whether or not I should flatten the surface and get everything perfectly square before the cut but in the end figured I’d be good to wait. If I was a little off in the end I could still use a chisel to fine tune things. Plus, since every board is milled to 3-1/8″, I didn’t want to take extra material from the top to flatten it before I added the remaining boards.

To accomplish this, I marked a line about 1/2″ in from the unfinished edge.This would be my reference line for the final dimensions.

From that line I made a mark at 7″ and 9″ on the top and traced them on the face and bottom and made my cuts. I added a couple of extra saw kerfs (not shown) so I wouldn’t blow out large chunks while removing the waste with a chisel.

Once I got to about 1/8″ from my line with the chisel, I finished up with a router plane. It was a little rough so I used a block rabbet plane to clean things up a little. I didn’t care if I would make the dado wider since the actual planing stop will be fitted to the hole, not the other way around.

To start the next layer, I first began by taking a board and laying it on top of the dado I just cut. I made a mark at the beginning of the planing stop on the new board and made my cut. I put it on the shooting board to square things up and then laminated it to the top. This piece shifted a little more than I expected but nothing to worry over at this point.

I used a rabbet block plane to clean and square up the ends before moving on. The plane was just the right size to fit in between the gap.

For whatever reason, here is where I made my mistake. What I should’ve done was lay the remainder of board I cut flush with the opposite side of the bench and mark where the other side of the dado was at, then cut and laminate. I would have then made the stopped groove for the wagon vise on this board… Instead I jumped the gun and without paying attention to my own plans, I made that groove one board early. Now I’m in the process of fixing it.

I have added the next board thus closing off the planing stop hole and here’s the result.

The reason the overhang is there is because of my mistake . That should have been in line with all the other boards and the next one would have looked like that but oh well. Live and learn. I probably won’t make the actual stop until the end but if I get bored maybe I’ll do it sooner. I’m thinking some purple heart I have from a while back that I have no plans for. Just something to contrast the pine.