New woodworker; Advice on smoothing top of workbench? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 10-02-2018, 10:04 PM Thread Starter
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New woodworker; Advice on smoothing top of workbench?

Hi,

I just started woodworking and just joined this forum. My first project is to build a workbench. I decided to build the following workbench: http://www.modernbuilds.com/workbench. The top consists of 20 2x4s glued face to face. I didn't do a good job gluing (my first time...). I used too much glue and didn't wipe it up before it dried so now the top has dried glue all over it. Even worse, when I clamped everything, a couple of the boards slide up so now the top is really uneven and a few boards are about 1/4" higher than the rest.

My question is: what is a good way to smooth the top? My main concern is smoothing the boards which slide up about 1/4". Any ideas?

Thanks!
Nick
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post #2 of 16 Old 10-02-2018, 10:14 PM
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What tools do you have to work with?
Any hand planes, belt sander, router, etc...? What do you think you have that would work?

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post #3 of 16 Old 10-02-2018, 10:18 PM
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You could buy or rent a power plane and plane it level.
Use a long straight edge to mark low spots and high spots.

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 16 Old 10-02-2018, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t.carpenter00 View Post
What tools do you have to work with?
Any hand planes, belt sander, router, etc...? What do you think you have that would work?

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Thanks for asking. I don't have a lot right now as I'm only buying when I need tools for a new project. I was thinking I could use a rip saw or flush-trim pull saw I have on the boards that are sticking out 1/4 inch and then use a #4 bench plane, portable belt sander, and/or finishing sander after that. I was also thinking of using a 1" chisel to remove the dried glue before doing any of that.
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post #5 of 16 Old 10-02-2018, 11:20 PM
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Maybe consider a router as your first major tool purchase. Search "router sked" on "you tube" and you will find plenty of videos that explain how to flatten a bench top.
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post #6 of 16 Old 10-03-2018, 04:18 AM
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I made a bench just like that years ago. I took it to a shop that had a big abrasive plane and they ran the whole thing through it. Itís getting a little raggedy, Iím going to take it apart and have it touched up before I start projects next year. Super solid and flat.
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post #7 of 16 Old 10-03-2018, 05:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njohnsoncs View Post
use a rip saw or flush-trim pull saw I have on the boards that are sticking out 1/4 inch.
That would be pretty difficult.
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post #8 of 16 Old 10-03-2018, 06:25 AM
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Dried glue is hard on the cutting edges of your tools so you need to scrape off as much as you can before you start. I use a scraper like this

https://www.rockler.com/hand-tools/w...e-edge-scraper

It makes fast work of removing the glue and your hands donít get banged up.

A well tuned hand plane in the hands of an experienced woodworker would make short work of the 1/4 inch difference in height. A newby would have a bit more difficulty.

You could take it to a Woodworking business and have them sand it flat, but 1/4 inch of sanding would require several passes.

Next time, glue just a few boards together at a time.


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
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post #9 of 16 Old 10-03-2018, 08:19 AM
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Since 2x4's are made for framing and not bench tops I would run them edgewise through a planer and remove the rounded corners on the boards. It might be more difficult to find but the bench top would be better if you used yellow pine 2x4's. Yellow pine is harder than the SPF 2x4's which are common.
Since the boards won't be perfectly straight you might use cauls when you make the glue up. Then once glued up I would use a belt sander to flatten and smooth the surface. Sand it cross grain first and then with the grain.
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post #10 of 16 Old 10-03-2018, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
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Since 2x4's are made for framing and not bench tops I would run them edgewise through a planer and remove the rounded corners on the boards. It might be more difficult to find but the bench top would be better if you used yellow pine 2x4's. Yellow pine is harder than the SPF 2x4's which are common.
Since the boards won't be perfectly straight you might use cauls when you make the glue up. Then once glued up I would use a belt sander to flatten and smooth the surface. Sand it cross grain first and then with the grain.
And since itís so uneven, if you use a belt sander instead of a power plane, I suggest you use 36 grit sanding belts to get it even to start with.

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 #11 of 16 Old 10-03-2018, 09:05 PM
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Step 1: Get a #5 Jack Plane
Step 2: Elbow grease

That's how I did it.

Once you're starting to get close to flat, take some time off and make yourself a pair of winding sticks.
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post #12 of 16 Old 10-03-2018, 09:45 PM
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And since itís so uneven, if you use a belt sander instead of a power plane, I suggest you use 36 grit sanding belts to get it even to start with.
I think you are right if the person with the sander is good with it. 36 grit, if a person in inexperienced might make the top 1/4" thick somewhere.
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post #13 of 16 Old 10-03-2018, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies. I would love to make a router sled but I think that's beyond me right now. What do y'all think if I use a belt sander to roughly even the boards that are sticking up 1/4" and then use a #5 jack plane to smooth the everything after that?
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post #14 of 16 Old 10-03-2018, 10:53 PM
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There is no reason you couldn't machine the top flat with the belt sander. Check it with a straight edge from time to time and be patient and you should be alright.
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post #15 of 16 Old 10-03-2018, 11:16 PM
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I would lean towards the belt sander only because if you have to buy a tool to fix it, buy the most versatile one. Otherwise, I'd start with the plane. It would likely be faster than the sander, if the blade is sharp. But you probably won't plane much, if you've never done it before....

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post #16 of 16 Old 10-03-2018, 11:37 PM Thread Starter
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OK. Since I already have the belt sander I will try that first. I have 36 grit sandpaper so hopefully that will work well. Thanks for the tips, I really appreciate it!
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