Workbench Day 1


I’m happy to report I got approval from the finance department to make the purchase for my workbench last night after pointing out to my chief financial officer a sale at Menard’s that included lumber.  The kids accompanied me and I got a lot of sympathetic looks from men (and few “been there done that” looks) and smiles and looks of amazement from the handful of women in the big store.  I suppose seeing me push one-handed a cart containing (barely) a 1.5 year old girl and a 3.5 year old boy while hauling a lumber cart full of wood was bound to get some attention.

My first stop was to get some glue.  I have a medium sized bottle of Elmer’s woodglue that is about half empty.  That simply won’t do!  So I grabbed a bottle about 4 times the size of what I have.  Never used Titebond before.  I’ve heard it’s pretty much the same thing, but it was on sale so, why not?

Not the biggest bottle on the shelf, but the biggest I’ve ever bought!

At any rate I picked up 18  2″ x 4″ x 84″ studs for the top, 3 more of the same for the stretchers, 2  4″ x 4″ x 96″ for the legs, a big container of glue, some oak dowels for pins, and a 1″ x 4″ x 4″ hickory plank for the bench stops.  Grand total was a hair under $80.

Man this little plank is really heavy compared to the 2x4s for being half their length. As St. Roy says, “Hooray for Hickory!”

After reading Scott Landis’s Workbench book, I fell in love with Ian Kirby’s simple design (page 86 for those of you who have the book).  In fact, I was going to build mine based on his until I read Chris Schwarz’s book and really took a liking to the Roubo style he made.  So, I decided to combined bits and pieces from both.  The sturdiness and rigidity of the Roubo, the bench stops and easy joinery of the Kirby.  Now, after mulling it over for a few months and going through I don’t know how many different versions of my design, I’ve come to the conclusion I’m going to have a go at making this bench without any metal hardware.   You know, just for one more challenge.

Yeah, you read that right.

I’m going whole hog on this project and instead of metal fasteners, I’m going to use the oak dowels I bought today as pins for drawboring the mortise and tenon joints.  If I do this right (and that’s a big damn IF) I will be mighty happy with the results.  And if not, I’ll just use Deckmates to lock this mother together!

I have to say, despite the rain (yeah…it started as we left the store and made our way to the car) I was fairly giddy as I loaded the 270 pounds of lumber into the Expedition (gotta love being able to haul that much 8′ long stock and two kids in car-seats!).

There’s enough room for another bench in there!

At home, I had to wait till play time—I mean nap time—before I could unload and get the lumber out and sorted. I took an hour in the store sorting through the wood looking for the clearest, straightest pieces (and I think I got them all…it was pretty rough!), but I still sorted again and marked them as top or stretcher.

So pretty…

Once that was done, I stacked everything nice and neat to get acclimated to the garage (and dry out after getting rained on). Lucky for me, we’re going to my wife’s class reunion this weekend so I won’t be tortured by looking at tge wood and wishing to get started. I figure it will be early next week before I can do more.

In the meantime, what I did do was make use of the lumber storage the previous owner (and builder of the house) had installed for me over the garage door.  I honestly don’t know what he did with the racks made of 2x4s hanging from the rafters in the garage, but I discovered they are the perfect size for 8′ lengths of lumber.  So, I had some extras laying around getting in the way and decided to put ’em up there.  I also put the pieces for the stretchers up there as well, just to get them out of the way while I work on the top.

That storage area is perfect for me. Now all I can think about is how to fill it up…

Which got me thinking…do I want to build the top first?  Or build the base first?  Or, prep and glue up the top then work on the base while the top is drying?  Decisions, decisions…

Tomorrow: jigs!  I need to get the lumber cut to length, and I’ll be shaving 1/2″ off the height of the 2″ x 4″s (so instead of being 3 1/2″ thick, my top will be 3″ thick and should have nice sharp flat edge).  That’s at least two jigs…I have a few designs in my head I want to try out after looking at some videos from Danny Lipford.  He has so many tips and how-to videos to look at, I’ll have to check it out in detail later…


About Steven M. Vaught

A native son of Delaware, now living in Illinois, Steven is a writer, family historian, amateur astronomer, sometimes-gardener, woodworker, father to three wonderful children, husband to a wonderful wife, and caretaker of one cheeky vizsla.
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2 Responses to Workbench Day 1

  1. Rotag says:

    Looks like you have a good start and with hickory no less. Cool ! And, you get some rain which you needed in Wisconsin. Nice narration, too.

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