Work Bench Part 2 - Preparing the Base


This time I will be preparing the stock for the legs and all the stretchers for the base of my workbench. The stock I am using is local white oak from a rural Manitoba sawmill. I purchased enough for this bench, another bench project, as well as a fair amount extra for a little over four hundred dollars. The wood (above) was purchased a few years ago and has been air drying. It has some cracks and checks from drying, but I like the appearance, as it makes the bench look more aged. 


DunlapplaneWorkbench hewing

I started my battle with the large timbers for the long stretchers that join the two legs together and have a tusk tenon that holds the legs in place. The stock is about eighty inches long, four inches square. I picked the best side, and with my scrub plane (above left) in hand, scrubbed the board flat. I next proceeded to move onto my Stanley #6, which further levelled off this long stretcher (above right). I usually use my low angle jack plane before my jointer plane, but this oak has a lot of knots, and the grain changes direction constantly, the low angle plane caused  far too much tear out. So I ground my Stanley number six iron a bit more convex and used it till I was ready to move on to my jointer plane to finish off. The finished dimensions ended top being three and three eights square and eighty-four inches long. This became my basic stock preparation set up until I came across a nice condition Dunlap jack plane at the local flea market for a reasonable price (above right), which I used after the scrub plane. After the long stretchers were complete,  I moved on to the legs, which are five inches square and about forty-two inches long. After the first two sides of the legs were planed, there was quite a bit of mass to remove from the remaining sides (about 3/4”-1”)  to get them to the size I wanted. To get close to my finished thickness I used my broad axe to chop down close to my finish line (above). While hewing, I use a variety of techniques depending on how the grain is going, generally at an angle to the grain and taking some ladder cuts when required to prevent wood from splitting off uncontrollably. After hewing I plane the surface as described above. 


After the four legs were complete I moved onto the short stretchers that join the legs together. There are three on each set of legs and the dimensions are: for the top stretcher, four and one half inches by three and one quarter, the middle is three and a quarter inches by three inches and the bottom stretcher is three inches by two inches. They are all twenty-five inches long. They are all worked from the same six inch rough stock as the legs are made from. After the first two sides were square on the stock they were marked out with a marking gauge and cut out with my large frame saw (above) that I made in a previous blog entry. It works quite well, though the stock needs a far bit of clamping on my current bench to hold it in place. The parts were all then cut and planed. 

These are all the parts of the base that I have prepared for construction. It may have sounded fast, but trust me it was a lot of work. There are a few other parts that will be made after the base is roughly assembled, such as the shelf I plan on putting in across the long stretchers, the sliding deadman and the back for the vise. These will be prepared as needed. That concludes this entry, and join me next time where I will be starting the jointery on the legs.

Work Bench Part 1 and Winter Updates


This time we will be getting the planing started on the workbench, as well as some a pics of a winter project that I have been working on. I will start with the workbench. I have been looking for quite some time at workbench plans and reading books about benches, deciding upon which style to build and what features I want for my new bench. My existing bench (above right) is based off a modified plan from Roy Underhill’s book The Woodwright's Apprentice. I have been useing it for several years and have made every project that I've made strictly with hand tools on this bench. It far to small for my needs but was all I had room for I’m my previous shop and it is still serving me. As it is far too light, I store wood underneath it, to add much needed weight required for hand prepping stock. 

For my new bench I took a few factors in to account when deciding upon what I absolutely had to have. First I needed it to be portable. A Roubo bench would be great. But, I have to be able to get it out of my basement when I move, and it would not be easy if possible to move it out at all. Second, I wanted a nice leg vise with a classic wooden screw. My present vise sucks. Period.  Third I wanted a wagon vise on the end. The bench I decided upon is a modified version of The Moravian Workbench. Will Myers has a plans for a version here (external link), which is based of an old design from the Old Salem Village in North Carolina. I am making several mods that can be seen in my plan, which is the two scanned images below (sorry about the quality). I am making the bench entirely out of local Manitoba white oak. The wood was purchased from a local saw mill rough cut. It has sat several years and should be ready to start the bench. I decided to beef up some of the timbers used in the bench, to accommodate possible future expansion of the bench, if I wanted a longer top, I only need to change the top and  two  long stretchers. I am also adding a sliding deadman to the bench as well as some shelving in the long stretchers. The top will also be a one flat surface, no tool tray in the back. After using a tool tray for the past few years, I would sooner the bench space. 


These plans show some most of what is needed for me to build this bench. The twenty-four inch width of the bench might change as to become more like twenty-two, I just need to get access to the top boards to see what the final width will be. I have started prepping the materials for the base, and will share that in the next entry. 

This winter I took a trip to Lacrosse, Wisconsin to the Bad Axe Tool Works saw sharpening seminar (external link). It was a great time where I learned a lot about saws, sharpening, maintenance,  and cleaning. My fellow classmates were a great bunch of guys, as well as Mark Harrell, and his staff. If you are into saws, I would highly recommend going, it was well worth it. 


This past little bit I have been working on my turning skills building a sheet music stand (above). It is a very fun project and gained some turning skills and well as some joinery with all the lap joints in the top as well as bread board ends. The stand is made entirely of walnut, most of which was scrap. It was finished with a few coats of linseed oil, followed by orange shellac. The shellac was brushed on for the first few coats, this builds a coat, which is then sanded. The final coats were applied with a rag. I am very happy with the finished product. It is fully adjustable by using the ebony pin for height (bottom), angle adjustment from behind(below) and it swivels as well. Stay tuned for the next entry showing the start of preparations for the bench. 


© Shane Larson 2018