Thursday, August 16, 2012

[Workbench] Flattening and Patching

The two large beams I created, being about 11.5" apiece could fit through my planer. However, they are very heavy and I would certainly need some assistance feeding them through. I would like to say that my work ethic and commitment to traditional methodology prevented me from using the planer, but in fact it was a kind of impatience and laziness. I went ahead and joined the two hunks into the final 22 3/4" bench top.

I then realized how much work it would be to flatten the whole thing with a jack plane, so I got my 2.5 year old daughter to do it. I told her that it would be fun, and she believed me!

Once she had the top relatively flat (although quite scalloped since it is a jack plane) I was able to trim the ends. Again, I was tempted to use a circular saw but decided to use my coarse crosscut saw. It was way easier than I had thought, and did not take very long. Following the cutline was not a problem and the result is fairly square. It will need a tiny bit of truing once the bench is all assembled but not a lot. This is a good thing because trimming 4" of end grain doesn't sound all that fun.

Here's the top, at its final dimension of just over 4" thick, 22 3/4" wide, and 7' 6" long:

You can see that despite intentionally choosing the clearest wood possible, there are still a number of gnarly areas. Ignoring the very good wisdom of testing materials before implementation, I mixed up some epoxy and added food coloring, a bit of orange and a more substantial dose of brown, thinking it would look vaguely like juices from a fir tree. The result is more like something from a horror film, but it will mostly be planed away and hopefully not too bad:

Next I will flatten the bottom (since that is where the legs will attach) and build the legs. I've ordered vise hardware and now need to design the chop.


  1. Oh God, I saw that right after the one with your little assistant and was terrified she lost a finger or something! Though, it seemed unlikely that you'd document that on the blog!

  2. Rob. No update on the next Schoolbox? I take it the bench has you busy enough. I am following your progress on the schoolbox builds though. I'm in the middle of mine right now. Did you mention how you fastened the bottom of the box to the sides? Did you use cut nails? What size and style if you don't mind me asking?

  3. J Contract-

    I've talked about the school boxes a bit in previous posts, and this one went so smoothly there is not much to say. It is currently getting a coat of BLO each day, up to number 4 now. I stop at 5.

    The bottom of the box is nailed onto the sides with "fine finish"cut nails, I believe 4d. The moulding then covers the bottom and the sides, and is tacked on with headless brads. I use nails from Tremont.

  4. Sorry for the formality. My name is John. Like your Blog.

    Nice to hear how smoothly it went. Hopefully mine goes as smooth. Mine is Pine. Yours was Alder I believe?

    So that's fine finish cut nails for the bottom and headless brads for the mouldings. All from Tremont?

    Did you glue the entire bottom? Or just the front as is mentioned in "The Joiner ..."?

  5. Yes my boxes (4 so far) are all from alder. I would use white pine if I could get it for less than an arm and a leg!

    The school box is a great design. I'm still trying to keep them "by the book" but do have lots of ideas for improving them.

    I do not glue the entire bottom. The nails seem plenty strong.

    Sadly I don't have posts here organized all that well (waiting to migrate to wordpress) but if you dig through the archives I have some School Box posts.

  6. I've read em all I think. I have the opposite issue. I don't recall ever seeing alder here in the northeast. However, pine is pretty cheap. I paid $25 for a 1x12x10' at home depot for my box. Where are you located?

  7. J-

    I'm located on the central Oregon coast, where alder is like a weed. It is quite rare in the lumberyards since it is not appreciated as a fine hardwood, but there are so many trees around that anyone with a mill tends to have a stash of it. I really love it; Jim Tolpin calls it "poor man's cherry" and that is accurate, but perhaps too harsh.


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