Building my first workbench - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-10-2020, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Building my first workbench

Hello,

With all the time I spend at home lately, I decided woodworking would be a great skill to invest it in. I picked up my grandpa's old plains and saws, and began playing around with them on some scrap wood. Even though my girlfriend is very happy for my finding a new hobby that doesn't include a mouse and a keyboard, her feelings about all the dust and the scratches on the living room table are quite the opposite...

Luckily, my landlord gave me the keys to the basement, which turned out to be the perfect place to take my experiments to. I have sufficient space (after "disassembling" all the shelves with 15-year-old pickled raspberries and tomato juice), some tools and, most importantly - a workbench...at least what was left of it when I got rid of the half-rotted-away top. And what's left is a brick base, around waist-high, with some odd angles but also - as I was very happy to discover - almost perfectly level top.

And now, after that lengthy backstory - here is my first major project - building a bench-top to put on the base. There are wooden strips, running the center lines of the two "legs", that the old top was screwed to but I'd rather not use them, if I can help it, so the top would come off easier, if needed. I plan on building the top from pallet-wood, keeping the cost down, and taking advantage of the already processed and more-or-less uniform boards. This is the pallet-size I've decided on: https://te3sdotorg.files.wordpress.c...ffc46c15e5.jpg. If my plan is viable and everything goes accordingly, 4 pallets should suffice.

I've attached drawings of the rough dimensions of both brick-legs, and an overlay of what I imagine the top will be like. I apologize in advance to any engineers that are brought to tears by my technical drawing skills - that's never been my strong suit and these were my first attempts with a ruler and a protractor in about 2 decades. The measurements are in millimetres (top) & centimetres (legs).

The standard thickness of each board is 22 mm but I used 20 mm, for ease of drawing, and also allowing for any planing that will be needed. These will be arranged vertically, with the thickness of the top ranging between 100-145 mm.

I have a 22 cm vise screw (wrongly drawn as 30 cm) which I plan on putting in the center of the face, with two guide rods, slightly elevated and spaced evenly on both sides, as close to the legs as I can get them. The back jaw will be the two 145 mm-wide boards that are in front of the legs, and will house the screw nut. The front jaw will be made from 2 x 800x145 mm boards, holding the guide rods, and a 600x145 mm board behind them, with the guarder and the guide rods attached to it. The keeper will probably be sitting in a wider hole on the middle board, fixed to the screw, so it can pull the jaw back.

My reasons for building the workbench like this:
- I already have a flat base available (and fixed to the wall and floor )
- the boards will come mostly flat and squared
- I don't yet trust myself with higher grade lumber and pallets are dirt-cheap, and I can pick and choose the best ones from the yard

My concerns / how I will address them:
- the top won't be thick/sturdy enough / I may need to make it entirely out of 145 mm-wide boards, having to buy twice as many pallets and being left with a bunch of unused "100 mm"s
- the top will be very face-heavy, with the biggest boards + the vise in front / should be easy enough to remedy by fixing the back to the wall.
- horizontal spaces between the boards and the legs, due to uneven edges in the brickwork, allowing for the top to move around / I'll leave all B & C boards with wider bottoms and adjust each one individually so that it fits as close to the legs as possible, in the spot where it will sit, before gluing the whole thing together

I've never built anything like this before and any feedback and advice will be very much appreciated!

Thanks!
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Vlado

Last edited by VladTheGad; 05-10-2020 at 09:45 PM.
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-11-2020, 08:28 AM
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Vlado - I don't know how other computers or phones display photos,
but, on my laptop, I can not make out anything on your drawings.
and on a feedback note: I think that all forums on the internet are being
overwhelmed right now with all the Covid people stuck at home and are turning
to the WWW to fill in their spare time.

please don't get discouraged with your project just because your questions
are not addressed right away. just do the best you can within your skill sets.

and for all of our new members: the short and to-the-point questions will get
you the quickest and most accurate responses. I am seeing that long, drawn out
posts get very little attention these days because members just don't want to take
the time to read a book for a simple question.

keep at it !! looking forward to following your journey with your bench.

.

I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things.
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-11-2020, 09:04 AM
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Pallet boards are generally too short, unless .....

If you run them across rather than down the length that will be fine. Then the next thing is, they are generally too thin for a bench top. So, make two or even three layers, but stagger the joints/seams and use enough glue or construction adhesive like Liquid Nails. Place some heavy boxes on the top until the glue sets, but not so much weight as to cause the boards to sag!


The thicker and heavier the benchtop, the better. It will allow you to easily attach a bench vise, either metal or wood. You can hand plane the top after it's all set up with a scrub plane. A scrub plane is just like a bench plane only the blade is slightly curved which allows you to remove thicker shavings more easily and faster. Then you can switch back to a straight blade for smoothing. Remove all the nails first!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrub_plane


I have my metal bench vise attached to a thick piece of wood so I can clamp it to my assembly table when I need it. Then it's not in the way of woodworking projects. I also have a Parrot vise for woodworking on another thick platform. The Parrot vise is good for woodworking and carving since it swivels in many directions.


https://www.grizzly.com/products/Sho...ot-Vise-/D3125



Vises can be mounted to a thick platform for clamping, like these:

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 05-11-2020 at 11:00 AM.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-11-2020, 09:35 AM
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I tried to lighten up your drawings: hope it helps.
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I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things.
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-11-2020, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Smith_inFL View Post
Vlado - I don't know how other computers or phones display photos,
but, on my laptop, I can not make out anything on your drawings.
and on a feedback note: I think that all forums on the internet are being
overwhelmed right now with all the Covid people stuck at home and are turning
to the WWW to fill in their spare time.

please don't get discouraged with your project just because your questions
are not addressed right away. just do the best you can within your skill sets.

and for all of our new members: the short and to-the-point questions will get
you the quickest and most accurate responses. I am seeing that long, drawn out
posts get very little attention these days because members just don't want to take
the time to read a book for a simple question.

keep at it !! looking forward to following your journey with your bench.

.
Agree, drawings do not display.



George
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-11-2020, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Smith_inFL View Post
I tried to lighten up your drawings: hope it helps.

Not much help. Actually more contrast may be better.


George
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-11-2020, 10:12 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Smith_inFL View Post
I tried to lighten up your drawings: hope it helps.
Thank you, John, I appreciate your help! I tried improving the picture quality with the default Windows editor but I had to pick between brightness and detail, and went for detail in the end.

I'm not at all discouraged - we're on opposite sides of the planet - there's bound to be some "lag" 🙂

As for the long post - without decent plans or pictures of my set-up, I figured "the more details I can give - the better". Your advise does make sense, though - I'll try and be more "to the point" in the future.

Vlado
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-11-2020, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
If you run them across rather than down the length that will be fine. Then the next thing is, they are generally too thin for a bench top. So, make two or even three layers, but stagger the joints/seams and use enough glue or construction adhesive like Liquid Nails. Place some heavy boxes on the top until the glue sets, but not so much weight as to cause the boards to sag!


The thicker and heavier the benchtop, the better. It will allow you to easily attach a bench vise, either metal or wood. You can hand plane the top after it's all set up with a scrub plane. A scrub plane is just like a bench plane only the blade is slightly curved which allows you to remove thicker shavings more easily and faster. Then you can switch back to a straight blade for smoothing. Remove all the nails first!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrub_plane


I have my metal bench vise attached to a thick piece of wood so I can clamp it to my assembly table when I need it. Then it's not in the way of woodworking projects. I also have a Parrot vise for woodworking on another thick platform. The Parrot vise is good for woodworking and carving since it swivels in many directions.


https://www.grizzly.com/products/Sho...ot-Vise-/D3125



Vises can be mounted to a thick platform for clamping, like these:
Woodworkers need a removable machinist vise/anvil mounting system! - YouTube
Thanks for the tips!

My fear is that having multiple layers will make the top way too high and uncomfortable to work on. Maybe I'll get a few thick and heavy hardwood planks and screw them on top of the pallet-layer after planing it smooth.

I don't think any of my planes qualifies as a "scrub plane". One is, I believe, a Rabbet - 25 mm wide straight blade wedged in a 25 mm wide board. The two larger ones are 32 & 45 mm - both with perfectly straight blades. I was thinking about getting a jointer plane next. I found a 51 mm Pinie Jointer for $30 - maybe it sounds too good to be true but, with that price, I'm willing to roll the dice. Thinking about what you're saying, though, maybe it would be a better idea to skip getting another flat-bladed plane and find a decent "scrub" instead.

The vise will almost certainly be a fixed wooden one with a 30-ish mm wide screw, running through the front boards. I bought it for around $25 and it's flawless - I can't not use it! :) What I haven't decided on yet is whether to put it in the center of a 80 cm wide board with two guide rods on both sides (leaving roughly 23-4 cm between the screw and the rods but having the capacity for longer boards) or have just the screw and one guide-rod (shorter face but quite a bit more space in-between).

Vlado
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-11-2020, 01:01 PM
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What makes a scrub plane .......

The only difference is in the shape of the cutting edge, straight across OR curved for a scrub plane. You don't need to buy another plane, just get another blade that fits one of yours.... they are different widths depending on the length of the sole. A no. 4 would have a more narrow blade than a no. 7 jointer plane for instance. You would typically use the curved blade in a no. 4 or no. 5.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-11-2020, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
The only difference is in the shape of the cutting edge, straight across OR curved for a scrub plane. You don't need to buy another plane, just get another blade that fits one of yours.... they are different widths depending on the length of the sole. A no. 4 would have a more narrow blade than a no. 7 jointer plane for instance. You would typically use the curved blade in a no. 4 or no. 5.
To be honest, until just a few months ago, all I could have said if you asked me about the differences between plane numbers is "5 is bigger?". The three beaten-up pieces of wood on the pictures below are probably twice my age and the first thing that pops into my head when I think "plane".

The irons look pretty good for having spent the last 10 years sitting on a shelf. I hope some sharpening and re-flattening will bring them back to life. My guess is that the large uneven mouth on the middle one chooses my scrub plane for me, right?
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Vlado
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post #11 of 11 Old 05-13-2020, 11:48 AM
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The term "Scrub Plane" is a reference to a radius in the contact area of the cutting edge. The center of the iron will protrude farther than the edges of the iron. When using it will take thicker shavings at a time... but not as wide, therefore making it easier to remove a lot of wood quickly. And it is used diagonally to quickly flatten a board. Once the board is roughly flat... switch to a smoother plane to flatten the undulations created with the scrub plane. You don't necessarily need a devoted scrub plane... you only need a scrub iron. Hope this helps you.

Gary

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