Workbench

So my work bench has been done for a while. I’ve not posted any pictures of it or the process of building it and now seems as good a time as any. It took me far longer then expected mainly due to not knowing exactly what I wanted when I started the process. What I opted for was a slab top with an apron on one side. This is a bit of a hybrid build as the two popular types seem to be a Roubo or an English style benches, though looking around the Roubo seems more popular.

For this bench I used what I had. This isn’t a fancy hardwood as I don’t have the money for that and this being my first try I would hate to mess up using a resource like that. Instead I used the pine 2×4 I had from when I took down a long series of walls in my basement. This wood has been drying out in the house for a long time and while not always nice was really dry. The slab top I glued up while learning to plane. Ultimately I learned a lot doing this. Unfortunately some of the learning was back breaking planing to flatten the top. Got there in the end but took more effort then I would have thought going in. This was my own fault and in subsequent slab builds I’m much faster at it.

Where the pictures start here is with the legs getting glued. The slab is in the first few images resting on a pair of saw horses as I needed something to work on. This glue up used most but not all of my pony clamps. Once they were dry I also planed and glued the apron board onto one of the sides of the slab. This was a 2 x 12 piece of lumber. So far it hasn’t movedĀ  but if it does I can just lay the bench on its side and square it back up. Leg joints are two different kinds. The first is a single through tenon. This is fitted with the apron to lock it to the top and bottom. It is then pinned though everything with oak pegs and the tenon is wedged to help ensure a tight and non-reversible fit.

Shout out to Richard at the English Woodworker. His technique for making oak pegs worked like a charm. They banged in no problem compared to some of the purchased dowels I’ve tried in the past. On the other side I did a split tenon. Partly this was just to try my hand at making two and also for the stability and look of the joint. This one was more difficult with more faces and angles to get just right enough to allow me to draw the joint closed. In the end I put two clams on it and pulled it home. Made the job a lot easier and ensured I had everything as tight as it would go. Drilled and knocked in the pegs and 2 more legs done.

The cross stretchers were next for the lower legs. These I had glued up and planed square (no pics) before positioning them and marking out the joints. This was a pretty straight forward process once I realized I shouldn’t try and cut them to a finished length but instead plane them flush once they were installed. Cutting the legs in the right spot was perhaps more nerve wracking then anything else since I was this far along in the build and sitting on the floor hunched over to do this made the work cramped and awkward. In the end I got them in no problems. Again 2 more pegs in place and the glue all dried and only one more piece to add.

Again, this feature I saw on the bench build over at the English Woodworker. I didn’t want to build in a lower shelf as this would make sweeping up a pain and I didn’t want to store stuff in a place where it would constantly get covered in shavings and saw dust. Instead I added an angled brace to help stop the front leg from flexing while I planed in the vice. Now that my bench is built I suspect I should add another to the read leg near the wagon vice but that is a retrofit for another day.

I cut the mortise for the brace using the technique recommended by Paul Sellers for this sort of work. The hole cut rather quickly but getting the piece to fit together easily was not to be and involved some staining to get the tenon in the hole and then seated properly into the lap join in the leg. Once in pegs inserted and the job was mostly done. After this one final flattening of the top and a check to make sure the sides were square and the work was done. Next up adding the two vice.