Notes on the Two-day Workbench
If I told you that shooting a woodworking DVD is hard work you’d probably laugh. It sounds like a supermodel complaining about a photo shoot for the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine.
So I won’t tell you how we worked under hot lights with no air conditioning (the microphones pick up the fan noise), or that the heat cooked my brain until I did some very foul things with a half-made crochet. At least, I think that part was real.
Today about 4 p.m. we wrapped up the shoot for the “Two-day Workbench,” a no-compromises workbench you can build with a few tools, common home center materials and two days of shop time. I wish we could have gone a little longer because I wasn’t able to bring up the fit and finish of the bench to where I like it.
One back leg is proud of the benchtop by a smidge. The crochet needs to be cleaned up. I need to cut the square ovolo shape on the wooden vise chop.
And then there is the small issue of the benchtop.
To make the benchtop, I laminated together two 1-1/2”-thick layers of beech countertop from Ikea.
The lamination went well. But when I went to check the benchtop for flatness with a jointer plane and feeler gauges, there was an area about 6” x 12” that was very low – about 25 thou or so.
That is a “big dipper” when it comes to handwork. In my experience, I have found that a low spot of as little as 6 thou can make your work spring into the depression, making your handplane mostly useless.
So I started to flatten the top for the camera. After about five diagonal passes over the top, the camera crew started to look at their watches – they had to break down and paint a new set that night.
So I left a small valley in the center of the benchtop. Other than that one depression, the countertop was remarkably flat everywhere else. I probably need to make three or more passes with a jointer plane to finish up the top.
I will definitely use these countertops for other future benches. It’s just too easy and makes a solid top.
Other details: In yesterday’s blog entry I pooped on using wet Douglas fir as a workbench material. I want to emphasize that I was talking about wet – 18 percent MC or higher – Doug fir. When it’s dry it is easier to work, but it is still tough stuff and good for a bench.
So if you use wet Doug fir, let it dry a bit in your shop. Don’t be a Schwarz and dive immediately into the project after only one day of buying the material.
The good news is that F+W Media plans to purchase the workbench, so I don’t have to find a customer and I should have the chance to tidy up the bench in the coming weeks before they put it to use.
Tomorrow I head back into finishing another workbench project, but it is one for me: a French oak bench built from ancient timbers.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. F+W is shooting for a mid-October release of this DVD.