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Thread: Bench Renovation - the bench to build a bench!

  1. #1

    Bench Renovation - the bench to build a bench!

    I've been in this catch-22 trying to get setup for solid handwork...that being that I need to build a nice bench. The problem was described by Deirdre as a bootstrap problem, which I love to use as an analogy being that I'm a software engineer by trade.

    In preperation to build a nice bench, I had an old beatup bench in my garage that the previous owner had built. It turned out to have some serious problems, so I had to cut the top square (a story in itself, the previous owner skewed 8' 2x4s as he built it on the inside of studs which are 8' on center). One end was skewed and distored, and I never could understand why, but when I really looked at it I figured out what had happened. Got that all fixed and all nails replaced with decking screws (I hate nails, especially in this use).

    I created an apron out of hickory and purple heart. I had a bunch of purple heart flooring left over from a previous project, so took the stock down to remove the grooves from the bottom and finish from the top, and laminated 4 pieces (2x2) to form 6/4 pieces for the ends.

    This is not complete yet, but here's some pics after I got it glued up last night. I haven't cleaned it up at all, it still needs to be hand planed, but the ends and front are also splined with the same 3/16" hardboard that will go on the top. I have a LV quick release vise to put on here, with a 3" hickory jaw.

    This will act as a cap and fit over the top of the old bench to clean it up, you can see how much grease the previous owner left me on the bench...

    These joints were hand cut with a pair of small joinery saws I got from Mike Wenzloff.

    Not the best of joints, but I'm getting a little better at dovetails. I was originally planning to use a half blind rather than a through, but due to the size of the 6/4 stock, there wasn't enough room to have 3 tiers easily. As this was, it was fairly difficult to get in between the pins, but it was doable with my smallest 1/8" chisel.


    http://www.softorchestra.com/woodwor...ch_renovation/

    Thanks for looking!
    --
    Life is about what your doing today, not what you did yesterday! Seize the day before it sneaks up and seizes you!

    Alan - http://www.traditionaltoolworks.com:8080/roller/aland/

  2. #2
    Looking great Alan!!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Menlo Park, CA
    Posts
    280
    Looks really impressive. That hickory is pretty (as, of course, is the purpleheart).

  4. #4
    Thanks, it's good to get some of this done finally. I'm really looking forward to building a nice bench after I get this out of the way.

    It's actually starting to function now:



    http://www.softorchestra.com/woodwor...ch_renovation/
    --
    Life is about what your doing today, not what you did yesterday! Seize the day before it sneaks up and seizes you!

    Alan - http://www.traditionaltoolworks.com:8080/roller/aland/

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    1,205
    I love the houndstooth DTs, Alan. Hopefully, you'll tell me that they look harder to do than they really are , as I'm hopeful that I'll be able to tackle something like that one of these days.

    Mark

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Stutz
    I love the houndstooth DTs, Alan. Hopefully, you'll tell me that they look harder to do than they really are , as I'm hopeful that I'll be able to tackle something like that one of these days.
    Mark,

    I won't say they're not harder than a through dovetail in this case, since this is basically a through dovetail with a 3 tier houndstooth. But they're not much more complicated, IMO, and for the marginal amount of extra work, they're worth it to me.

    I wanted to do a half blind for these joints, but what I found out was that because the stock for the tails is only 6/4 (laminated scrap purple heart flooring), 1 1/2" wasn't enough thickness to use some for the lap, and the rest or the joint. So, I modified it to be a through dovetail. I will do half blinds on the bench I build using this bench, but it will have a double lamination of 8/4 walnut for the ends. that will give me over 3" of tail depth to work with after using about 1/4"-1/2" for the lap.

    For all intents and purpose, this is very much the same as cutting a through dovetail for the pins, since you basically cut all of the pins as you normally would, and then just trim down the wide side of the pin to match the respective tail.

    The tails are a bit harder, but not very much more, IMO. One problem I ran into, especially when first trying to do this with a half blind, is that there isn't enough room and I had to make my pins a bit wider as I didn't have a small enough chisel, so enlarged them so they would be at least as wide as a 1/8" chisel on the wide end of the smallest tails, if that makes sense. The smaller the pin, the narrower the wide side will be if you try to keep the narrow/top of the pin small. One could use a wider angle also, and I used 1:8 on these. 1:6 could give more comfort to work with on the small pins, but I like the narrower angles myself, and with narrow pins it leaves no question that the dovetails were hand cut. I see folks hand cut big fat wide dovetails and they look like a machine had done them to my untrained eye.

    I use a fret saw to cut the waste out. I also use a fret saw to relieve the bottom of the pins when chopping away the extra from the smaller pins. You can only cut the corners, but if careful can get a cut across the entire bottom/wide portion of the pin. You only want to get close and par to the line with a chisel in this case.

    This is pretty much my first houndstooth to incorporate into a project, and while this is not my first dovetail joint, I wouldn't call myself an expert by any means. This is something I very much enjoy doing, the hand cut joinery is possibly my favorite area of woodworking.

    The one joint on my list of projects, that I must do, is the double dovetail. If you're not familiar with the double dovetail, you can see it in this article that was published almost 5 years ago, for a puzzle malet written by Stephen Shepherd.

    Puzzle Mallet
    --
    Life is about what your doing today, not what you did yesterday! Seize the day before it sneaks up and seizes you!

    Alan - http://www.traditionaltoolworks.com:8080/roller/aland/

  7. #7
    Nice job, Alan! You've been a busy guy.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Ganthan Rhodes
    Nice job, Alan! You've been a busy guy.
    Well, I've been more busy with work, and took last week off to get things cleaned up in my garage. Unfortunately I didn't get everything done I needed to, and am trying to get a small shed setup for my kids bikes, sporting equip, etc...to clear some more space up, and I'm also putting 36" high shelving to be used as counter space around the entire garage. I think this is like incorporating "The Not So Big House" concept to the garage. Maximize the counter space, add shelving up high and below, and the space will be more functional for me.

    In some ways I've been torn on what I did to that bench. I didn't want to invest much time into it, yet I wanted it to be functional. Primarily I wanted to build a decent bench with it, but I do want to use it in the future, for work in the garage. I should point out that I have a concept where I'm seperating my shop into power and hand work, and the garage will be where I dimension lumber and timbers with the power tools for projects that I will do all the joinery, assembly, and detail work by hand.

    This is an 8' bench, and the other bench with only be 6', so this could come in handy for making moulding, or other such stuff where 8' would be a plus.
    --
    Life is about what your doing today, not what you did yesterday! Seize the day before it sneaks up and seizes you!

    Alan - http://www.traditionaltoolworks.com:8080/roller/aland/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Grand Marais, MN. A transplant from Minneapolis
    Posts
    5,512
    Well Done Alan.
    A shame to be hiding in the Shop.
    It should be in the living room on display.
    TJH
    Live Like You Mean It.



    http://www.northhouse.org/

  10. #10
    Thanks for the compliments Tyler, but I'll have to keep it in the garage. I don't like tools near the grand piano, nor my double bass, and the garage IS like my livingroom as of recent!

    This is just a taste of what's to come on the bench I build, using this one.

    A bench is a "Right of Passage" where a person becomes a woodworker, IMO.
    Last edited by Alan DuBoff; 04-20-2006 at 2:06 AM.
    --
    Life is about what your doing today, not what you did yesterday! Seize the day before it sneaks up and seizes you!

    Alan - http://www.traditionaltoolworks.com:8080/roller/aland/

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Grand Marais, MN. A transplant from Minneapolis
    Posts
    5,512
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan DuBoff

    A bench is a "Right of Passage" where a person becomes a woodworker, IMO.
    I've had this discussion many times with other WW that insist on buying their bench .
    Still working up to mine.
    Strokes for folks .
    TJH
    Live Like You Mean It.



    http://www.northhouse.org/

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    N Illinois
    Posts
    3,404
    Nice work. Well done...
    Jerry

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    St Thomas, Ont.
    Posts
    551
    Quote Originally Posted by Tyler Howell
    I've had this discussion many times with other WW that insist on buying their bench .
    Still working up to mine.
    Strokes for folks .
    It is my contention that workbenches and tool boxes are like good lasagna, you don't buy it, you make it.

    Actually my workbench is the single biggest thing I have ever built to date, when I built it I had a workmate to work with, and a piece of veneered particle board on two saw horses. I built the trestle first and then it was able to supposrt the planks I used for the top. Which I noted with some interest last week that Roy Underhill on his show did the same thing, so I must have some intuitive knowledge I guess.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Menlo Park, CA
    Posts
    280
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan DuBoff
    A bench is a "Right of Passage" where a person becomes a woodworker, IMO.
    I remember making my first, hand-chopping M&T joints while watching TV -- since I didn't have a bench, the couch was as good a place as any to work.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Tyler Howell
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan DuBoff
    A bench is a "Right of Passage" where a person becomes a woodworker, IMO.
    I've had this discussion many times with other WW that insist on buying their bench .
    I believe you mean "rite of passage". Incidentally I bought mine, but luckily I don't have to rely on your parameters to know if I'm a woodworker or not.

    Cheers, Alf

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