Build the Holtzapffel Workbench Part 4: Gruntwork
I’ve taught eight woodworking classes this year, and I can tell you that every class has a Wednesday. This is the day when you work your hinder off (my hinder is long gone; ask my wife) and you don’t really seem to be much further along at the end of the day than when you started.
Oh, and this is the day when the instructor ruins some of your workpieces.
The day started great. We took the tops out of the clamps and cut them all to size on Kelly Mehler’s Felder table saw with a sliding crosscut table. Yes, the sliding table could handle a 3″ x 24″ x 8′ maple top. But it took a small army to porter each top in place.
And while Kelly was crosscutting, I demonstrated how to crosscut the tops to size with a Makita circular saw and an edge guide. No surprises here: With the Felder 10′ away, nobody opted to use the circular saw.
Then it was onto the detail work: cutting the tenons and dressing the legs. For the tenons, we set up two stations: One was a table saw with a dado stack that cut the tenons in one whack. The other setup used a table saw to cut the shoulders and a band saw to cut the cheeks.
I set up the machines, but I botched the setup on the table saw that simply trimmed the shoulders. I could blame the Europeans and their fancy table saw fences, but I won’t. It was me. When I thought I was locking down the saw’s rip fence I was actually just locking down the fence’s micro-adjust setting. So the fence moved and one of the students ended up making tenons with progressively longer shoulders.
Kelly had some replacement parts in the wings, so we quickly got back on track again.
Upstairs, the handwork began. I gave lessons in handplane sharpening and setup, and the students began dressing their maple legs with planes. There is a reason they call it “hard” maple. The stuff is hard to work. So I helped some students tune their planes a little higher. And we still have some tuning ahead of us.
I also got to give a demonstration in the care and feeding of augers and the bit and brace. By the end of the week, I suspect the students are going to be sleeping with their braces. Not because they love them so, but because their arms will be frozen while clutching them. Workbenches require a lot of boring.
Wednesday is now almost over. And Thursday is always a good day. These sticks of maple that we have been fussing over are about to become assembled workbench bases. It’s like making fire: Things get exciting when you put two sticks of wood together.
Crosscutting the benchtops in one swipe on the table saw was very cool.