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Workshop Projects

Workbench Pages: 1 , 2 , 3

November 2012 update

With my recent shop renovations done, I thought I would make my work bench a little more inviting to use. For the majority of its lifespan, the bench has been used to store things on, and I have done much of my project assembly on my table saw. For good reason: the bench top was a dark colour that I really didn't like, whereas the table saw is a nice light colour. Things like that make a big difference, for me (and for this site - pictures do not look good against the dark top of the bench). Also, with my shop in such disarray most of the time, the only surface that remained reasonably free of "stuff" was my table saw.
So, the first step was to get rid of the dark colour. I stripped and sanded the top down to bare wood, then wiped on a coat of polyurethane. This was an improvement, but it revealed one of the reasons I used the darker stain in the first place - to hide the ugliness of the wood I used and the filler to close up places where there were chunks taken out of the wood:

Bench top stripped. Bench tail vise.

Hey, it's a work bench, right? Yes, but I knew if I didn't make it look a bit better, it would probably not get used and end up collecting junk again.
Before I had the quick release vise, having the tail vise open on the side was handy and practical. Now that I won't be clamping larger things in the tail vise, I'd like to add a piece of hardwood to the edge to give it some extra support.

Another slightly nagging thing is the two oversized recesses for the heads of the bolts that hold the vise to the table. It would be nice to fill these, without limiting the bolt movement:

Holes in top.


In the end, I decided to cover the top with new material. The soft wood field would be covered with clear, clean pine, cut and planed to 5/16" thick. The only way to keep the top flat is to use the same kind of wood, going in the same grain direction. So, where there is softwood, softwood will be used to cover it; where there is hardwood, hardwood will be used to cover that.
To start, I cut pine slats 3/4" x 2", then resawed these on my band saw:

Resawing pine. Strips for the top.

I made more than enough to cover the field.

To adhere this new layer, I used polyurethane construction adhesive:

Glue applied to top. Glue spread on top.

Spread out fairly thin with a putty knife. The advantages of this glue is very high strength, moisture resistance, no water content (water swells the wood, making it expand) and the rather attractive features of long open time and low temperature setting. The workshop is fairly cold at this time of the year, and this glue will set above 5 degrees (Celsius), as opposed to wood glue, which really should be used at room temperature.

Strips taped together.
I used packing tape to tape all of the strips together and in place on the table. This is where the long open time of the glue really comes in handy.


To even out the clamping pressure, I put pieces of cardboard on the strips:

Cardboard on strips. The strips are clamped down.

Then a piece of 3/4" plywood is clamped down over that.

Clamp caul.
Maple 2" x 4" is clamped across, with a 1/8" thick stick under the middle, to distribute the clamping force.


The next day, the glue was set and I could remove the clamps. Next step is to add the hardwood to the edges. I cut maple to the same thickness as the pine:

Maple for the edge. Glued and clamped.

This was trimmed and glued in place, along with a 1" wide piece at the dog holes side of the bench.

Once again, this was left to cure overnight. I had to measure the forward rake on the dog holes prior to cutting the filler strips:

The angle is measured.


I used my rugged protractor for this.

The pieces that fit between the dog holes are cut to length and glued in place:

Clamps a plenty
It takes a great many clamps to do this, and I'm very grateful for all of my homemade ones.


For the moving jaw on the vise, I decided to use a single piece of maple to cover it. I drilled a 3/4" hole for the square dog cutout. The rest will be removed by hand, after the part is glued on:

Maple for the tail vise. Strip is clamped.

The last 1" wide maple strip finishes the dog hole edge.

A piece of maple 1" thick is added to the edge:

Edge is clamped.


Glued and clamped in place. This gives me another 1" of width to the top, plus closes in and supports the tail vise.

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