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Editor Christopher Schwarz and I have been busy building a Roubo-style bench for an upcoming issue of Popular Woodworking. The twist on this one is, it’s made from Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL), an engineered product usually used in construction. You can read more about the build in a number of posts over on the Woodworking Magazine blog.

Chris is out of the office for a few days, and in the meantime, I was tasked with breaking down the bench (it’s bolted together for easy breakdown transport) and painting the base with milk paint (Real Milk Paint in “Red”), then adding a topcoat of wax. On Tuesday afternoon, I put on the first coat of paint, and because I made it fairly thick, I almost got away with one coat…¦and almost ran out of paint. On Wednesday morning, I thinned the remaining paint with water, let it slake for a half-hour or so, then added a second coat that was closer to a wash coat.

Milk paint dries quickly, so by early afternoon, I was ready to wax. And that’s where I ran into trouble…¦

First, I used butcher’s wax, which flashed off white. When I tried to rub it out, the not-very-smooth surface of the LVL (I should have sanded more, I suppose) made it tough to get into the troughs…¦and I was left with a mottled white atop the brick red beneath. Not pretty. And we’re shooting the cover shot next week. Panic ensued.

I popped out to the hardware store for a medium-hard natural-bristle brush, thinking maybe I could rub out the wax that way while getting into all the crannies. Nope; that was a waste of $5. Glen Huey and Bob Lang suggested I try floor wax instead, and told me that “wax cleans wax” thus a coat of the amber-colored floor wax would lift off the white. With trepidation, I added a coat of the floor wax, waited for it to flash, then wiped it off. Whew! They were right. The floor wax lifted the butcher’s wax, and rubbed out fairly easily. Floor wax , better than Valium for calming panic.

But the wax-on, futile-attemp-at-wax-off, panic, trip to hardware store, panic, and new coat of wax put me behind. Way behind. I was supposed to bolt the base back together yesterday afternoon, so that Chris could show it off to his father (he’s visiting from Charleston, S.C.) this morning. And I was supposed to start and finish the “I Can Do That” project for November before lunch (we’re shooting that tomorrow morning). But when Chris and his dad showed up, I was still frantically wiping off a final coat of wax.

So they helped me bolt the base together (OK , I pretty much watched, while picking out the waxy paint from under my nails, while Chris and Dr. Schwarz put it together). And in the meantime, I managed to get the ICDT project done too…¦by talking Glen into doing it. Thank you, Glen!

– Megan Fitzpatrick

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Showing 5 comments
  • megan

    Glad you like it!

    But sorry – we can’t give away the contents of the November issue just yet. It won’t be too much longer though; subscribers get in early October – just two months away.

  • Bill

    Great looking bench Megan & Chris. I really like the painted base.

    Any chance on getting access to the Sketchup or measured drawings for this before the magazine article hits my mailbox?


  • Charles

    Forgot to say… the bench looks amazing!

  • Charles

    Great story… The flop sweat reads right through.

    Looking forward to the, presumably renamed, "I don’t have time to do that" project. ;-]

  • Doug Fulkerson

    "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

    from Life of Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell

    Not the Bard, but not bad either. 🙂

    One thing I guess will never change in Journalism is the pressure of the deadline. Way to hustle, Megan.

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