1st Bench Build - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 121 Old 05-31-2018, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
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1st Bench Build

Decided to finally dive in and build a workbench. I'm a total newbie and I want to work primarily with hand tools, so I settled on the Paul Sellers design. The plans are free, and he has a 10-part video series on how to build it. I think I've watched those videos at least 4 times.

I'll be documenting my build in this thread, so hopefully other newbies can learn from my misadventures and (hopefully) triumphs.

Step 1 is the top, and as I mentioned in another thread - I laminated 16 1x4 boards. I used a WoodRiver #5 jack plane to get the top flat and square. It was a lot of hard work, but the end result was well worth the effort. In the background, you can see some of my other recent projects: a miter saw station, a hand tool cabinet, tool wall, and clamp rack. That old bench along with wall will eventually get ripped out and replaced with this bench.

Questions:
I have a few spots of tearout on the top. I could plane these out, but my top is darn near perfect right now and I'd rather not risk screwing it up by planing it down even more. Recommended fix? Would it be okay to just mix up some sawdust with wood glue to patch those up and sand them out?

Also - probably get a hundred answers here, but what's a good finish to use?
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post #2 of 121 Old 05-31-2018, 10:00 PM
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Very nice. Will be following your progress. Will be using boiled linseed oil on mine and maybe (not sure yet cause not a fan of a slippery bench top) paste wax. Have used Thomson's water seal with good results on a cheap ply bench I built. Could do glue ups on it with no worries of the glue sticking. Was great.
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post #3 of 121 Old 06-01-2018, 12:38 AM
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I wouldn’t worry about a few indentations on the new top. If it’s used as a workbench it will be getting a few more. Good job. Feel the burn with that #5?
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If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #4 of 121 Old 06-01-2018, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
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Feel the burn with that #5?
It was a workout, for sure! I guess you don't really appreciate the difference in weight between a #4 and #5 until you tackle something like this.
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post #5 of 121 Old 06-01-2018, 12:35 PM
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It was a workout, for sure! I guess you don't really appreciate the difference in weight between a #4 and #5 until you tackle something like this.
If you have big hands, I highly recommend a 4 1/2. Got one a few weeks ago and absolutely love it!
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post #6 of 121 Old 06-01-2018, 01:16 PM
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Traditionally Benches were flooded with boiled linseed oil/turpentine/and a little bees wax. flood onto the wood, let it soak in, wipe excess after an hour. Flood again the next day the same way then wipe excess after an hour. The mix is basically 1 part BLO, 2 part Turpentine. You then add a few shavings of bees wax (like peeling a carrot). To combine the wax it has to be melted. What you do is boil water in a pot on the stove, once boiling TURN OFF THE FLAME (turpentine is flammable) and set your jar of mixture in the hot water, a little stirring to combine. DO NOT SPLASH WATER INTO THE MIXTURE. Sometimes the wax may not completely dissolve...not a problem. Brush liberally onto the wood, wipe excess with an old towel. Dispose of old towel properly to prevent spontaneous combustion. The same mixture can be used later to refinish if you re plane your bench later. By using this for the protective coating the wood will remain reasonably stable because BLO is a hardening oil. This traditional finish goes back hundreds of years, and is used on wooden axe/hammer handles to help prevent shrinking, and also hand planes. It won't keep glue from sticking so use care there.
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post #7 of 121 Old 06-01-2018, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by gmercer_48083 View Post
Traditionally Benches were flooded with boiled linseed oil/turpentine/and a little bees wax. flood onto the wood, let it soak in, wipe excess after an hour. Flood again the next day the same way then wipe excess after an hour. The mix is basically 1 part BLO, 2 part Turpentine. You then add a few shavings of bees wax (like peeling a carrot). To combine the wax it has to be melted. What you do is boil water in a pot on the stove, once boiling TURN OFF THE FLAME (turpentine is flammable) and set your jar of mixture in the hot water, a little stirring to combine. DO NOT SPLASH WATER INTO THE MIXTURE. Sometimes the wax may not completely dissolve...not a problem. Brush liberally onto the wood, wipe excess with an old towel. Dispose of old towel properly to prevent spontaneous combustion. The same mixture can be used later to refinish if you re plane your bench later. By using this for the protective coating the wood will remain reasonably stable because BLO is a hardening oil. This traditional finish goes back hundreds of years, and is used on wooden axe/hammer handles to help prevent shrinking, and also hand planes. It won't keep glue from sticking so use care there.
Can mineral spirits or denatured alcohol be substituted for turpentine and paste wax for bees wax? Do I need to add turpentine since modern BLO has driers in it. Have to finish one as well and love your info. Just trying to use what I have on hand.

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post #8 of 121 Old 06-01-2018, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Check out the video below. I watch this guy all the time, and he uses a homemade BLO/bees wax mix on just about everything:


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post #9 of 121 Old 06-01-2018, 05:42 PM
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i WOULD just put a sheet of 1/8" masonite on top.


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post #10 of 121 Old 06-02-2018, 03:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmishElectricCompany View Post
Check out the video below. I watch this guy all the time, and he uses a homemade BLO/bees wax mix on just about everything:

https://youtu.be/KvSvmOwmNV8

That's because it's works great on just about everything!

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post #11 of 121 Old 06-02-2018, 09:57 AM
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Can mineral spirits or denatured alcohol be substituted for turpentine and paste wax for bees wax? Do I need to add turpentine since modern BLO has driers in it. Have to finish one as well and love your info. Just trying to use what I have on hand.

I use the traditional way of making it, and it works great. I don't think mineral spirits was available commonly 200 years ago, but turpentine was, as was boiled linseed oil and bees wax. Johnsons paste wax is carnauba wax. I would try adding Johnsons paste wax to replace bees wax (it may melt easier) but I have not yet tried it. The turpentine basically is a carrier that when mixed with the boiled linseed oil, makes it thinner to soak deeper into the wood. The turpentine eventually evaporates leaving behind the oil to harden deep in the wood. I don't know if mineral spirits will mix with boiled linseed oil or not. I would think denatured alcohol would evaporate way too fast, and wouldn't carry the oil deep enough because of that, and again I don't know if it would mix with the oil. The only thing I don't like about the traditional mix is the smell...it lingers for days after doing a bench...I find the smell of turpentine objectionable. Fortunately my wife does not.
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post #12 of 121 Old 06-02-2018, 10:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmishElectricCompany View Post
Check out the video below. I watch this guy all the time, and he uses a homemade BLO/bees wax mix on just about everything:

https://youtu.be/KvSvmOwmNV8
Yea, I like James' videos a lot and use BLO and paste wax on tools and other things a lot. Have heard mixed things about paste wax on benches though. The argument is that work pieces tend to slip around when it's waxed. Thinking the mix suggested by mercer might not be quite as slippery.
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post #13 of 121 Old 06-02-2018, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
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Probably won't be any major project updates for a few days. Apparently I've misplaced my mortise gauge, so I had to order a new one. I'm still making progress though!

Cut all my legs to size and got them squared up. The plans call for 3x4 leg posts, but I couldn't find any, so I went with 4x4. I'm sure I'll have to make up for that when it comes time to cut the leg braces. I went with Paul's default leg length of 34 3/8" - which will give me a finished bench height of 38". My current bench is that height, and it feels a little high - so I may end up cutting an inch or two off before it's all said and done.

On a side note, I have a nice miter saw station and could've easily cut those 4x4s - but I decided to keep it old school and cut everything by hand. It's funstrating (that's my new word) learning a new skill.

Probably no photos for the next few days as I wait on my mortise gauge. I'll just be getting my stock prepped for assembly.
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post #14 of 121 Old 06-02-2018, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmishElectricCompany View Post
Probably won't be any major project updates for a few days. Apparently I've misplaced my mortise gauge, so I had to order a new one. I'm still making progress though!

Cut all my legs to size and got them squared up. The plans call for 3x4 leg posts, but I couldn't find any, so I went with 4x4. I'm sure I'll have to make up for that when it comes time to cut the leg braces. I went with Paul's default leg length of 34 3/8" - which will give me a finished bench height of 38". My current bench is that height, and it feels a little high - so I may end up cutting an inch or two off before it's all said and done.

On a side note, I have a nice miter saw station and could've easily cut those 4x4s - but I decided to keep it old school and cut everything by hand. It's funstrating (that's my new word) learning a new skill.

Probably no photos for the next few days as I wait on my mortise gauge. I'll just be getting my stock prepped for assembly.
Sounds like you are doing great. Can't wait to see pics of the progress. Your word goes nicely with James' slogan, "Oh well." when he makes a mistake. lol
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post #15 of 121 Old 06-03-2018, 09:25 AM
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When I built my bench years ago, I wanted my bench to be used mostly for hand work. I am 5'9", and had a history of back pain while using benches that were too tall. I settled on a total bench height of 31"...Which most people would consider too low. I've used my bench now for about 18 years, and have never regretted that height. No more back pain, better visibility, and best of all it is a perfect height for me using a 24" tall stool. I would never go back to a taller bench again. There have been times it would have been convenient to have the bench the same height as my table saw, when ripping long boards or plywood, but I found a 3" PVC pipe clamped to my bench makes up the difference in height and provides a nice slippery surface as an outfeed support. As far as using wax in the traditional finish, I have seen no advantage or disadvantage either way...never really thought about it really. I used the bees wax because it's been done for hundred of years. I am sure there was a reason it was used.
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post #16 of 121 Old 06-04-2018, 08:55 AM
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looking good!
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post #17 of 121 Old 06-05-2018, 08:32 AM
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Bees wax applied on the surface of wood...when buffed will make it slippery. It does not...when mixed into the traditional finish.
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post #18 of 121 Old 06-05-2018, 05:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmercer_48083 View Post
Traditionally Benches were flooded with boiled linseed oil/turpentine/and a little bees wax. flood onto the wood, let it soak in, wipe excess after an hour. Flood again the next day the same way then wipe excess after an hour. The mix is basically 1 part BLO, 2 part Turpentine. You then add a few shavings of bees wax (like peeling a carrot). To combine the wax it has to be melted. What you do is boil water in a pot on the stove, once boiling TURN OFF THE FLAME (turpentine is flammable) and set your jar of mixture in the hot water, a little stirring to combine. DO NOT SPLASH WATER INTO THE MIXTURE. Sometimes the wax may not completely dissolve...not a problem. Brush liberally onto the wood, wipe excess with an old towel. Dispose of old towel properly to prevent spontaneous combustion. The same mixture can be used later to refinish if you re plane your bench later. By using this for the protective coating the wood will remain reasonably stable because BLO is a hardening oil. This traditional finish goes back hundreds of years, and is used on wooden axe/hammer handles to help prevent shrinking, and also hand planes. It won't keep glue from sticking so use care there.
Picked up some beeswax at hobby lobby since they had it on sale 1lb for about $8.50 and did the mix but substituted mineral spirits (mineral turpentine) for turpentine. Mixed and think it is going to work well.
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post #19 of 121 Old 06-08-2018, 10:36 PM Thread Starter
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Laying out and mortising the legs...

My mortise gauge arrived (a Veritas dual marking gauge for those interested), so I completed my modified layout on all four legs. Earlier I mentioned that my leg posts are 4x4 and my cross-members are 2x6, so I had to make some changes to make sure everything goes together correctly. I hope I did it right - my shop math is still under development.

I set my marking wheels just a hair wide of my chisel width and centered the gauge. I cheated and used digital calipers to do this. Like I said, my shop math is sketchy. Turned out to be a good call, because the gauge was dead on. Whatever works, I guess.

Below is a pic of my first hand-chiseled mortise using my first "real" woodworking project - a purpleheart and curly maple mallet. Took way too long since I was babying the mallet to avoid dents, but it was a labor of love. Very satisfying, and I feel like I've officially paid my dues. Tomorrow I will sharpen my chisel and use a more stout hammer to bang out the other 7 mortises. Don't think my mallet will ever be a shelf queen, but it has too much sentimental value to be used for heavy lifting.
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Last edited by AmishElectricCo; 06-08-2018 at 10:41 PM.
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post #20 of 121 Old 06-09-2018, 09:39 AM
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Nice mallet....Dents adds character.
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