Here are the final pictures from the reloading workbench progress. A write up is forthcoming.
Gather around the fire, kids and let ole Woody tell you a story … well, fake fire… this is a woodworking shop after all! My goodness! Who would use hardwood for a fire?
The workbench has been delivered and our customer is a happy camper. However, we still owe you build updates. Here is the much belated next installment ….
We used beefy loose tenons to attach a huge laminated Mahogany cross brace to the legs. They probably didn’t need it, but we tend to over build because our customer’s deserve no less. That was attached with epoxy and allowed to try while we worked on the tool tray/shelf that goes on the bottom.
The tool tray was built as a stand alone unit and then attached to the work bench legs and rested on the attached “shoes” which are now acting as cleats giving additional rigidity to the base. Woodworkers will use relative dimensioning over measuring any day of the week. Why? Well, humans hold tape measure and human eyes read them. Slight errors are going to occur. No way around that. If you can put the piece that needs to be measured into the place where it’s going to live, and mark it that way, there is way less error. This results in tighter joints and just looks better all the way around.
The tray sides are also “L” shaped. We created those using our favorite loose tenons, lots of epoxy & clamps. After the sides dried, we put them back on the legs and used relative dimensioning to measure the length of the sides and cut them accordingly. We then put them back in place to get the width of the tray bottom boards, thus giving us the width of the tool tray itself. We locked those in place with mortise and tenons on each end. The now 4-sided box frame (open a the top and bottom) was pulled off the legs and put on the table saw (a perfectly flat surface) for addition of each hand-fiktted plank.. All of the tray plank boards were first dry fitted, marked for length & trimmed. A tongue was routed on one side the and mating grooves on the other. The tongues were cut to allow for non-visible wood movement but also provided tons and tons of long grain to long grain gluing surface. Each of the boards was attached to the tray by tenon. We finished the tray with some molding to hide the purposeful slight gaps (that allow for wood movement)…. not to mention it just looks complete. One of the many benefits to custom woodworking. Things look pretty beside being useful and strong!
Once the tray was allowed to completely dry, we muscled it back in between the legs. It was a nice tight fit and there was only minimal cursing, we promise . Once in place, tenons were called into the game once again. Ain’t nothin’ going to pull this tray apart! The tray was finished off by putting the ends on and completed molding.
We next added some sides and a back piece. The back was attached with through tenons. These three pieces (2 sides and 1 back) served to further lock everything together. Some finish molding was added to most of the transitions. We know this isn’t really necessary given this is a workbench and will be in the garage, but it doesn’t take that much longer, doesn’t cost us that much more and let’s face it …. the piece looks way better! I guess it’s like saying you don’t have to comb your hair to go to church. The Lord loves you regardless, but isn’t it a nice gesture?
The next step was to get the back pigeon holes in place. We created them by tenoning the upper and lower pieces to the back. Which made a square bottomed ‘U’. We added in the dividers using wood glue. The back was left a little longer thus creating tabs of sorts which would give us a great place to attach it to the back legs. It’s a little hard to describe here in writing. I keep pointing at the screen and doing air drawings like you an see me. I’m rolling my eyes at myself. Have a look at the pictures and I think you will see what I mean. Yes, I got under the table and took pictures for you while it was drying. See how much I love you, dear reader?
We also attached the drawer front while we were at it. Just a simple round over was routed along the edge, but we think it complements these classic lines nicely.
We will leave you here for now. The next entry will finish everything up. I’ve included a boat load of pictures on this one. Hope you enjoy them!
Hopefully you’ve been following us on Instagram or Twitter (@FromTheHCWShop) or Facebook and have seen more frequent updates. We’ve been devoting all our time in the shop & getting our taxes completed, thus the delay in getting out an much belated progress report. There are a handful that need to be finished and uploaded. Tonight we’ll focus on the drawer.
When we last left you, our workbench got it’s legs and aprons (here). Since then quite a bit of work has been completed and we’re nearly finished with construction. This update will focus on the drawer assembly (support, runners, kickers etc). There was one gigantic drawer created. We thought this would allow for maximum storage and flexibility because our customer can easily subdivide it with readily available organizational devises. It can change with his needs over the years. Realizing this drawer will be used, abused and stressed (as well it should!), extra focus has been put on strength and durability. The drawer sides, runners & kickers were made from maple, the bottom from poplar and the supports (that the kickers and runners were attached to) mahogany. We used a tongue and groove joint for the boards that make up the bottom of the drawer. Lots and lots of long grain there to make up a very strong joint (see this post for additional explanation of a long grain to long grain joint). The kickers and runners were both mortised and tenoned together as well as the drawer sides. Many (many!) loose tenons were used to attach the drawer runner & kicker supports to the maple table top and then the runners & kickers to those supports. We also added Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene tape (fancy schmancy chemist type speak for really slippery but durable tape to make the drawer slide easier) to both. The supports run the entire depth of the workbench and were attached via loose tenon to both the front and the back aprons. This provides extra support for the table top so it will never bow. It also locks the entire base assembly together even more.
What are these runner & kickers?
They are ‘L’ shaped pieces. Drawer runners are what the drawer ‘runs’ on and supports the drawer on the bottom. The kickers provides support on the top of the drawer to keep it from tilting down too quickly and also helps to keep the drawer from racking. You know that frustrating thing that happens when you are trying to push a drawer in and it drifts a little to one side or the other, gets stuck and then you usually end up muttering things you don’t mean to?
You will see a pretty mahogany drawer front in an upcoming post.
Look at those gams! <insert wolf whistle here> In this post we’ll show how we’ve attached the front two legs, added some blocking around the vise and attached the apron with a cut out for the drawer.
As you’ll remember from the previous post (here), the legs have an “L” attached to provide some extra support for the rather heavy butcher block table top. For the back legs, we’ve cut 2 notches into the top. This will allow a single structural pillar to go from the caster all the way up to support the shelves. We used the router with a pattern bit and the plywood pieces shown in the photos as the pattern (or fence) for the router bit bearing to ride against. While there is a small disadvantage to using a router given it leaves rounded corners, the cut is beautiful and there isn’t any blow out (if executed properly). A pull saw makes quick work of squaring off the inside corner and gives us a nice crisp square. You can see the legs dry fit in place in the photos below. They are not attached yet because we’ve got some work to do with the drawer runners and back apron first. You will see all of that work in a future update.
The front legs have been attached using 4 loose tenons each and slow cure epoxy. Epoxy has a bit more shear strength which is why we’re using it for this application. This bench is going to be pushed and pulled and used. Not put in a corner and babied. ”Nobody puts Baby in the corner!” (sorry I regressed to the 80s there). We build furniture to be used!
The front apron has to be split to accommodate the vise. Because we want it to be still be structural, we’ve added some additional blocking to the side of the vise’s blocking. The apron blocking was also attached with loose tenons and epoxy. The small bit of apron between the vise and front left leg (remember the table is still upside down in the photos) has been attached via tenons to each other and to the table top. The larger portion of the apron has a hole for the drawer cut from the middle thus leaving the remainder of the board one piece and integral. It has been attached to the right leg using standard blind mortise and tenon joinery and the apron blocking using through tenons. We’ve added some cosmetic molding pieces to hide the through tenons. Two more molding pieces were placed on the apron for symmetry.
Next up … the gigantic drawer .. that doubles as a flotation device! You will get that reference if you if you follow on us on Twitter, Instagram (@FromTheHCWShop) or like us on Facebook. We provide more frequent updates via social media because it’s fast and we can spend more time in the shop!
For this update we’ll be showing you how we’ve blocked the table top to correctly space and accommodate the bench vise, laminated Mahogany for the legs and created shoes to properly attach the casters.
Our customer wanted a vise that wouldn’t get in the way of the table top. Quality vises are heavy. That’s a good thing for longevity and leverage, but it also takes a bit of accommodating. If you are hanging a nearly 40lbs vise off a table top, it had better be secure! We’ve used slow set epoxy to attach a lamination of Oak and Mahogany to to align the top of the vise with the table top. Four holes were drilled through this blocking for the bolts that will hold the vise. We then further put 6 huge Beech loose tenons in at angles through the blocking into the Maple tabletop. This results in the bolts being captured thus relying on the wood and not the threads of lag bolts for long term reliability. Two things are accomplished by these extra steps. Many vises have the same bolt pattern, so securing the bolts this way will allow it to be removed or even changed out down the road should the need arise but it won’t work it’s way loose. Had we just screwed the vise into the bottom of the table, with the wood’s natural expansion and contraction and the stress that will be put on the vise with repetitive ammunition reloading, those screws would have eventually worked themselves loose. No one wants a wiggly vise!
For the 4 legs, we’ve laminated 2 4/4 rough lumber Mahogany boards. After being properly jointed and planed (dimensioned) the final legs ended up being ~3 1/2″ x 2 7/8″. The front two legs will go under the table and the back two are going “through” the table top up to the upper shelves and pigeon holes. We didn’t want to attach the shelves and pigeons to the table top as a separate unit. This method will be much stronger and allow for more weight. Probably a little hard to visualize without a picture, but you will see in the next post what I mean. We added a 2 part “L” cleat to each leg where the Maple table top will be attached. The back portion of the ‘L’ was attached with 4 loose tenons and the leg of the “L” was attached to the back with 2 loose tenons. Some epoxy was added for good measure since we’ve got some end grain to work with.
Next we made shoes for the legs. Yes, shoes… well maybe work boots because I can’t see our bench in Louis Vuittons. The casters have to be bolted to the legs. Because we wanted to allow for the casters to be removed or exchanged and the bench to hold up to a life time of being moved around on those casters, we had to come up with a better solution than just directly screwing into the end grain. SHOES! We laminated 3 pieces of Mahogany and cut them a bit wider than the legs. We routed a “socket” for the legs to go into and then recessed 4 threaded inserts for the bolts to screw into. You could use this bench as elephant transport and I doubt it would even squeak (though please do not actually try that!).
The next update will show the legs being attached and more fun. Stay tuned.
A beautiful multi-functional workbench is our next project. As most of us do, our customer needs their workbench to wear different hats. It will be used for some DIY home improvement projects, ammunition reloading & other general workbench type stuff. Our Customer provided a website as a starting off point (much as one would use pictures from Pinterest as an inspiration board) and asked for more durable construction techniques with some additional customization. Our workbench will not use metal brackets to hang the drawer slides, stain to make coniferous wood look more expensive nor lag bolts for assembly. Don’t get me wrong… Douglas Fir is great for somethings, but we won’t make any of our furniture out of Christmas Trees! Our customer will be able to will this workbench to their Grands without a second thought.
We’re making a Maple butcher block top and using a combination of Honduran and African Mahogany for everything else. We’ve been asked to put the bench on casters and provide extra pigeon holes for storage.
We purchased all of the rough lumber and let it acclimate to the shop. As usual for this time of year, the weather is a roller coaster. Swinging between highs in the 30s to highs in the 60s in the same week. We are careful to watch the weather and adjust accordingly.
The rough Maple was dimensioned (jointed & planed) and cut into strips. The strips were dimensioned again to insure a very tight joint. Mortises were added to each piece for alignment and extra strength. When all of the strips were glued together, they were joined with Beech loose tenons. We staged the table top glue up into 3 groups of 5 or 6 strips that each measured approx 1 7/8″ wide by 1 3/4″ tall. Once those three sections were completely dried, mortises were again drilled to accommodate additional loose tenons. The three sections were glued together and allowed to completely dry. The ends were trimmed and the top sanded flat resulting in a ~1 5/8″ x ~31 1/2″ butcher block style table top.
Next steps are the build up under the table top for the vise and the lamination of the Mahogany legs.
The stain has been applied and the entire shop draped in prep for the Polyurethane. The first coats of Poly have been applied to the underside of the shelves and drawers. Because of the low temperatures at night, we have to go a bit slowly in applying the poly coats to be sure each one properly cures.
More progress has been made on knocking out the punch list. We’ve added shelf pin recesses to the underside of the shelves (so the shelves cannot easily slide off the pins even if a little one pulls on them) and a decorative edge profile to each shelf. No plain Jane shelves for our customers!
The hardware needs to test fit and the Mahogany distressed (at our customer’s request). We’ll take our time with finish sanding, remove the test fix hardware, and protect the drawer runners and drawer stops. This is an important step that cannot be rushed. Any thing missed in these pre-finish step will show like a sore thumb in the finished product.
Then I think we’ll be ready to begin the finishing process. During the finish process, updates will slow a bit as there is quite a bit of “watching the paint” dry time. However, rest assured… we’re hard at work.
The punch list (the list of items yet to complete) is getting shorter and shorter. The vast majority of the building is complete. Pictured you will see the sideboard top with routed profile and the glued up center shelf. Since the center shelf is fairly long, we have made it eight time stronger by laminating 2 pieces of mahogany. This will insure the shelf will not sag over time and will hold those heirloom art pieces securely.
Next on the list is to route the adjustable shelf pin holes for the center shelf, install the hardware, attach the top via extra strong figure eight holders and a few more odds and ends. Then comes the finishing.
Our weather right now is in the 70s and 80s during the day and then drops into the 30s-40s at night. This yo-yo’ing makes finishing a bit difficult in that it takes a lot longer to complete. We cannot rush the drying process in between coats or we risk not having a proper finish.