I know that some day I’ll perfect building these simple French workbenches, but it won’t be today. After 10 years of making benches by myself and in groups, I’m finding new strategies for making them better.
The last time we built these French oak workbenches the wood was wet – sometimes out of the range of our moisture meters. We used regular yellow glue to put the tops together, and it was a battle. The glue took a long time to cure – in fact some of the glue was probably wet for a week.
When we prepared for the second round of French oak workbenches, we decided to use a different adhesive: epoxy.
I know. I can hear the groans from here. I love animal glue. I use it for almost everything in my shop. But when facing 17 workbenches with wood that could be sopping wet, we went with modern boat building glue.
Jameel Abraham of Benchcrafted, who organized the event, bought TotalBoat epoxy from Jamestown Distributors. (He purchased the epoxy with the fast hardener.) The TotalBoat worked really well. After talking to technical support at Jamestown Distributors, we expected to have the tops in the clamps for two hours.
After four hours the epoxy was still pretty tacky (it was about 55° F in the shop that day). So we left the tops in the clamps overnight. This morning we took the clamps off the tops and had 17 perfect tops – nothing pulled open.
I don’t think I’ll use epoxy for every benchtop in the future. But when faced with some really unpredictable moisture content in the boards, epoxy is on the list of things to buy.
— Christopher Schwarz
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