Well, we’re half way home to building a workbench during the Fall Seminars at the Woodsmith Store. So far, things are going very well. I did a lot of the early milling of the Doug fir at my shop at home, but I brought all of it out last week to the seminar room and we started to put it all together after the mortise and tenon joinery was completed. I still have a few corner gussets to add. Next week, we’ll talk about how we add a bench vise to the workbench. Here’s a shot of the bench just after I did a dry-fit to make sure it would all go together after glue is applied. I’ll have more pix next week.
We’ve talked about it a little bit already, but it’s worth repeating — “If craftsmen from 100-years ago had MDF, they would have used it for workbench tops!” Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is strong and extra heavy. It’s made from wood fibers and glued up with resin under heat and pressure, so it’s extremely stable. And, there aren’t any knots, grain, or flaws so it’s always smooth and flat. All in all, a perfect work surface for a woodworking bench. (Or any other kind of workbench for that matter.)
This week, Bob Zimmerman will demonstrate how to handle the heavy 4×8 sheets of MDF that will make up the top of the workbench. There are three layers to this massive top. First, he’s going to use a circular saw to rip a full sheet to width while it’s lying on the floor. Don’t worry, he’ll have a neat trick to hold the MDF safely above the concrete.
Then he’ll give us some tips for using the table saw to crosscut the smaller pieces to length and rip them to width. And finally, once the first layer is cut to exact size, he’ll demonstrate how to attach a second, over-sized layer to the first with glue and screws, then he’ll trim it to size with a router and flush trim bit.
The bonus download this week is a unique little shop-made panel saw that you can build for around $50. It’s from Workbench Issue No. 292: Bonus Download
A short in our table saw switch brought last week’s seminar to a screeching halt! Up to that point, everything was going great. But, I think Terry did a good job of explaining the remaining steps for milling lumber so it ends up straight, flat, and square. Luckily, we were almost finished with the process.
This week, Jim Downing will be showing us how to join the workbench legs to the rails with mortise and tenon joinery. When you’re after a sturdy workbench, mortise and tenon joints stand up to the strain and stress of most woodworking jobs.
We’ll use a drill press and some chisels to cut the mortises, and a table saw to cut the tenons. It’s really pretty simple, but there is one little trick that Jim’s learned that can make cutting the tenons on the end of the long rails a lot easier. Hope you can make it to find out what that tip is.
This week’s bonus download is a 4-page article from Woodsmith Issue No. 142: Mortise & Tenon Solutions
During last week’s seminar, it was decided that we should take the economical route and build the workbench using construction-grade lumber. Now the question is, can you build a nice-looking workbench from the same “2-by” stock that you’d use to frame a house. My opinion is, yes. It can be done.
Oh sure, you’ll have a lot of waste. And, even though you’ll work around most of the checks and knots, there’s just no getting around an occasional imperfection. But I think you’ll agree that the 2x8s and 2x10s that I used to mill the parts for tonight’s seminar looks pretty nice.
Terry Zuck, assistant manager at the Woodsmith Store will be presenting this weeks seminar. He’ll use a table saw, thickness planer, and in my opinion the most important tool in the process — a jointer — to mill a rough section of Douglas fir 2×8 into a workpiece that is straight, flat, and square. In other words, ready for joinery so that it can be used in building the workbench.
The bonus download for this week includes a four-page article from Woodsmith Issue No. 167, called Mastering the Jointer.
Tonight’s seminar continues where we left off last week. We’ve decided to build the Heavy-Duty Workbench from Woodsmith Issue No. 133. It’s a big one and with the cabinet and drawers included it will be more than heavy enough for just about any task.
We’ve picked out some great 6/4 maple from the lumber racks at the Woodsmith Store. And of course, if you were at the seminar last week, you know I’ve already picked up some 2x10s and 2x12s from the local lumberyard. I took some time to find boards that were straight and dry, and with a minimum of checks and knots. I went to the big box store (where I think most of you would choose to buy your “two-by” lumber) and found these boards, and you should also be able to find Doug fir 2x stock at a traditional lumberyards like Gilcrest/Jewett.
A third option is vertical-grain Douglas fir. This is beautiful lumber, that is technically not a hardwood. But it works great for workbenches and it’s priced slightly less than hard maple, but quite a bit more than Doug fir 2x stock. If you want to see an example of a fine workbench made with vertical-grain Douglas fir, check out the latest issue of ShopNotes magazine. While you’re there, click on the Online Extras. There’s a cool model of the workbench online. If you don’t already know about SketchUp, this model gives a practical reason to download Google’s free 3-D design and drawing software.
The bonus download for this week includes a couple of 1-page articles on Using Cutting Diagrams and Vertical-Grain Douglas Fir: Bonus Download
The seminar last night went off without a hitch. Dennis Perkins did his usual great job. I’m looking forward to talking about the process of building a workbench for the next 10-12 weeks. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post some short video segments on occasion to keep you updated on our progress. Here’s an example:
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Next weeks seminar, “Selecting Lumber: Get the Best Wood Possible for Your Projects,” will also feature Dennis Perkins. He’ll touch on a few important considerations when buying lumber for a workbench, like the benefits of using hardwood versus “two-by” construction-grade lumber.
(If you were there last night, you may have noticed I had a stack of Doug fir setting in the seminar room. It was there for a reason and Dennis will explain why next week.)
He’ll also talk about another alternative to hardwood for the benchtop — MDF (Medium-density fiberboard). MDF doesn’t get a lot of respect from woodworkers, but Dennis is going to explain why we’ve chosen to use it for the benchtop on the Heavy-Duty Workbench we’re building.
See you next week, Joel
|October 14, 2008|
|7:00 pm||to||10:00 pm|
Regular club meeting starts at 7pm.
|October 30, 2008|
|6:30 pm||to||7:30 pm|
Bob Zimmerman, senior graphic designer at Woodsmith and ShopNotes magazines, offers tips for working with sheet goods and explains why MDF is a good choice for a workbench top.
|October 28, 2008|
|5:30 pm||to||6:30 pm|
Faux Finishing and Painting Seminar, Tuesday, October 28th starting at 5:30pm at the Woodsmith Store.
Learn the basics of faux painting using techniques provided by a painting and faux finishing professional from Benjamin Moore Paints.
|October 23, 2008|
|6:30 pm||to||7:30 pm|
Jim Downing, senior project designer for Workbench magazine walks us through the process of cutting mortise and tenon joinery, with an emphasis on cutting tenons on long workpieces.