Workbench Day 3: Cutting the top to rough length

Finally got to work on the workbench again.  It has only been 3 days, but felt like an eternity as  I went in and out of the garage to do various things and saw that wood pile looking all forlorn and neglected.

Set up the 10″ compound miter saw we got from Harbor Freight (2 years ago in Texas) and have been hauling around new in the box ever since.  A lot of people out there dis anything from Harbor Freight, but I have found that while their tools lack a certain something contained in tools from Stanley, etc., they get the job done and don’t cost a mortgage payment do to so.  I have a huge three-piece all metal tool chest and it is just the bees knees.  We also have some small clamps and hand tools (a palm sander, levels, etc.) and while they don’t have any frills or bells or whistles, they work, they were cheap and if it breaks, Harbor Freight will replace it for me.  We took a Jedi leap of faith with the miter saw at about $100 because we moved out of state (waaaay out of state) a few months after the purchase and never opened it…but that’s another story.  At any rate, today at long last I unpacked it and I was happy to find it looked clean as a whistle.  I set up the plastic saw horses (boy, that’s going to be another project, and soon…we’ve dragged these things around for about 10 years now and they are just about worn out) and ladder to make a make-shift miter saw table.  A few Deckmate screws with washers locked the saw down to a piece of OSB  I found in shed (thank you again, previous owners!) and a few F-clamps locked the whole thing down to the ladder.  I was surprised at how strudy the setup felt.  With the stock carbide tipped blade, the miter saw chewed through the 2x4s like a hot knife through butter.  It was slick as all get out and made cutting all those planks fun.

She may be from Harbor Freight, but I love this saw!!

I had already decided that the bench was going to be 6 feet in length.   I originally wanted 8 feet, as that was the amount of space I have to work with on the side wall where my shop is…but, if I did that, there would be no room for a router/miter saw rolling table  I have plans for—or a scrap bin.  So, I cut off 2 feet of the bench and have plenty of space now (and a little extra for storing the snowblower in winter).

I also will be slicing off 1/2″ with the circular saw on the width of the 2x4s to make a nice flat, crisp edge for the top.  That will come next.  First, I cut all my 2x4s to 73″, an inch longer than I want.  This way, I have some wiggle room when trying to get everything lined up just right.  I was able to cut off most of the knots and bad wood, and even a few spots that were a bit warped.  I was left with 16 nicely sliced 2x4s, all the same length and stacked and marked with which side will be the top.

It’s all the length of the bench now…easier to imagine what kind of footprint it will have.

That was all the time I had for today.  I was able to get my new (from Father’s Day) block plane de-greased, cleaned, sharpened and ready to rock.  Now both my Groz planes (I know, not the best out there, but the best I could afford and you know what, coming from next to no experience at this, I’m pretty happy with the quality so far—now that I’ve put a few hours into cleaning and sharpening them that is) are ready to go.  I tested the #4 (I used the Scary Sharp method that’s floating around the internet) on a piece of poplar today and man, it was a sweet sweet feeling seeing that slice of wood curl up out of the mouth of my plane.  Clamping makes all the difference in the world.  It’s hard to describe that sense of…joy? amazement? fascination? excitement? all of the above? which comes with getting a plane tuned, taking a swipe on some wood and getting the total sensory package—the sound of the razor edge slicing through the wood, the smell of the fresh wood, the sight of seeing that thin wood shaving curl up on itself and look like a mini roll of toilet paper…it is just awesome.


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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One Response to Workbench Day 3: Cutting the top to rough length

  1. Gator says:

    Nice report. You are a born writer and obviously love your woodworking….

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