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!
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.
We were at the local lumber yard awhile back and found what we were told was crotch Cherry. Someone stiffed the lumber yard on a special order so they were willing to part with it for such a discounted rate, we weren’t able to leave it behind.
After letting it acclimate in the shop, scratching heads on what to do with it,
kiln air dry in this horrible heat …. we were asked for an anniversary clock. HAZZAH!! Perfect ! A small piece like that needs some dramatic wood & this clock would be special since it would be a 15th wedding anniversary gift.
We got to work dimensioning the pieces. That means cutting it down to manageable pieces, planing it (getting it perfectly flat on 2 adjoining sides) and then re-sawing into thinner pieces. While doing this we realized this isn’t any ole Cherry wood. This is Madrone!!
Initial inspiration was taken from a commercially drawn and purchased plan, but we quickly threw that to the side and went our own way. The plan just didn’t do justice to God’s blessing that was this tree.
We’ve laminated two pieces for the very top of the clock so we can have a nice (relatively) thick bevel at the top. There will be one more smaller layer before the body. The bottom will also have a stepped look by layering several pieces. The clock back and sides have been joined using through mortises. The tenons are made from Sipo. Madrone is beautiful & strong, but a little brittle where there is burl or spalting. We didn’t want it to crack when putting in the tenons, so we’ll add an arch to the front cross piece after everything drys. Molding will be added to the sides to hide the tenons in the end. The face body will be joined to the inside back via a french cleat to allow for easy battery changes.
Updates will follow ….
We’ve finished all of the required lamination. Whoo Hoo!
After marveling at Michelangelo’s statue of Goliath-vanquishing David, the Pope asked the sculptor, “How do you know what to cut away?” Michelangelo replied, “I just remove everything that doesn’t look like David.” Obviously we’re not nearly good enough to free hand our seat and leg braces. Therefore we created templates out of plywood and used a good ole #2 pencil to trace the templates on to laminated blocks of Mahogany. Using the template lines, we proceeded to remove everything that didn’t look like a brace.
Then we started to assemble the ends of the Garden Benches. The last picture you see is the leg on its side and the seat and leg braces are sticking up.
We’ve got all the mortises cut and will do the glue ups for the leg assemblies in the very near future.
Woodworkers, among other things, are known for their creativity in problem solving. The base of the table is ~69″ long. While you could use pipe clamps to span that distance, they start to bow and are not our favorite method for glue ups. After some chin scratching, kvetching and mumbling the solution hit us!
The Mahogany on the end of the skirts was doubled up because we wanted to use 14mm big beefy* beech loose tenons to join the legs to the skirts. We needed the extra thickness to be sure there was enough wall for the tenons (think of the cream inside Twinkies. If the sponge cake walls weren’t thick enough, the cream would blow out the sides).
Ah ha! That means we could use the overhang of the doublers to to pull the legs tight for the glue up. HUZZAH!
After adding urethane to the table base and allow it to properly dry, we recessed areas to accommodate the figure 8s that allowed us to securely attach the top to the base. This is one of the very few places we will use mechanical fasteners in our work because there really is no other way to attach a table top and still allow for wood movement and removal of the top for moving or refinishing down the road. We only use stainless steel figure 8s and screws to be sure nothing will rust over time. The recesses were over sized to allow the figure 8s to pivot properly as the wood dictates. There are 17 figure 8s to help distributed all the weight .
Next, we converted the shop into a finishing room so we could use an HVLP (high volume low pressure) sprayer to apply the layers of urethane to the table top. We used full gloss urethane because it provides extra protection and then using very high grit wet sand paper “knocked” the finish down to a satin at our customer’s request.
You’ll see the finished table included in the pictures below.
*No actual beef was used in the making of this table, therefore no cows were hurt either….well if you don’t count the occasional hamburger eaten.
We owe you a progress report on the Mahogany Dining Room Table. Since we last left you (post here), we’ve used 12mm Beech loose tenons to add the “bread board” ends to the table finishing the frame. We purposefully made the frame a bit proud of the inner frame so we could plane & sand it down to the same level as the inner panel. You get a much result if you sneak up on something like this. It’s part of what woodworkers call relative dimensioning. Relative dimensioning is when you use the actual pieces of a project to measure something vs relying on a tool or tape measure. All tools have slight inaccuracies because let’s face it, none of us can afford the measuring tools NASA uses. You will see in some of the pictures below, we’ve got the skirts in between the legs that have been set into place to the table top. Everything is upside down, so you will have to use your imagination a bit …. or stand on your head. :) By doing this we can then mark where to cut the skirt using the actual pieces of the table. This also gives a chance to verify everything is looking good. No matter how much you plan on paper or see things in your head, there is no better way to verify proportionality than seeing it.
We’ve also included a couple of pictures where you can see the frame is thicker than the inner panel. This is done to make the top look thick and beefy, but cut down on some of the cost of mahogany not to mention the weight. This top alone weighs nearly 300 lbs. Our customer wanted a beefy “farm table”, we’re giving them a beefy farm table!
To pick up the Purple Heart inlay on the top of the table and to break up the straight lines, we’ve added a pencil molding inlay in the skirts. The molding goes all the way through the skirt. It isn’t just glued on the top of it. You’ll see some close up of the glue up on those. We’ve also used some smaller 5mm loose tenons made from Sipo Mahogany to help keep the pencil molding and corresponding Mahogany tooth tight to the skirts. You’ll see the tenons sticking out of the skirts. Those have since been flush trimmed and no one will ever see them unless you are doing the limbo under the table. If you are doing that, chances are you are at a party listening to Reggae music with a couple of Pina Coladas in your system and you won’t notice them anyway. BTW.. we’d like to be invited to the party, OK?
Finally you will see where we finished the underside of the table top as this will be the last time it was exposed. We temporarily took the top of out of the shop while we finish the final glue up of the skirts and legs.
When we get the skirts and legs glued up, we’ll convert the shop to a finishing room to get the many many coats of polyurethane sprayed on. Stay tuned for additional pictures as we proceed.
Thanks for stopping by!