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Two-Day Workbench – Part 6

September 10, 2017 2 comments

With this installment, I have worked out and drilled many 3/4″ dogholes in both the bench and the face of my vise jaws. I also designed, built and installed a sliding deadman. The build was a fairly free-form affair which began with many internet views followed by “winging it” in the shop.

Adding a Sliding Deadman – aka Board Jack

What I needed to work out was how to add the sliding track for my deadman. Originally, I figured I would cut grooves in the underside of the top and in the long stretcher at the bottom but this idea has technical issues. The top was heavy (and fortunately) already installed on the base. I would have to have planned way ahead to have cut that groove in the correct location prior to everything else. I wasn’t eve sure where the vises were going and thus where the top was going to join the base. Not feasible. It became apparent that I was going to have to retrofit the tracks. This would be as “clean” but would have the advantage of allowing me to install the tracks exactly where they need to go.

Bottom Track

After preparing a 1″ thick piece of Douglas Fir, I set my table saw blade to 45° and cut a bevel on one edge. Flipping the piece I cut the same bevel on the opposite face. The two bevels don’t need to form a razor edge, in fact if they do I’d rip off the point to reduce friction. Once I was happy with the track, I ripped it from the board leaving some meat (3/8″) on the bottom for strength. I took this track to the drill press and drilled and counterbored from the top for #6 screws. The screws alone would hold the track (no glue) so it could be removed should future repair be required.

With my table saw blade still set at 45° I used my tenon jig to run a beveled groove on the bottom end of the deadman stock piece. I did this in two passes, flipping the face. The beveled groove was pretty good and I cleaned-up the few rough spots with my 1/8″ chisel. Whoa, it works! Very cool, the first challenge was met.

Top Track

Using the other edge of my Douglas fir 1″ stock, I used my dado stack to cut a 3/8″ groove down the center of the jointed edge to a depth of approximately 3/4″.  Again, I left some meat beyond the groove and ripped off the upper track. I predrilled holes but wasn’t able to counter-bore because I didn’t have a bit deep enough to reach into the group. Fortunately the deadman top never reaches this deeply into the groove except when inserting it into the track.

Next, I had to cut a tenon on the top of the deadman to fit in the top track groove with enough slop to slide freely. I never could get it clear in mind how to measure the fit and length of the tenon on the top. I simply installed the tracks, introduced the deadman stock to the tracks and marked where I needed to trim the top and how long the tenon needs to be to. The tenon must be long enough to stay in the top track yet short enough to be able to lift the bottom over the bottom track. I simply eye-balled it and carefully made the cuts.

Sliding Deadman

How many holes should I add to the deadman and how should they be laid out and what should the deadman shape look like? These were the easy questions, in fact it would hard to actually be wrong no matter how it turned out. I laid out two columns of 3/4″ holes. The holes in each column were spaced 2″ apart with the columns offset by 1″. The result, I can place a support anywhere to within 1″ levels. OK that wording sucked, but anyone reading this likely gets what I mean to say.

I wanted the deadman to look nice so I “trimmed off some fat”. Using my longest french curve I shaped long arches from top to bottom on both sides. Finished it off by rounding over the edges and adding a coat of boiled linseed oil (BLO).

Completed Sliding Deadman

Thanks for sticking with me. I’ll finish up this project by adding an under-bench storage cabinet with 8 to 10 drawers depending on how I decide to lay it out.

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Two-Day Workbench – Part 5

August 29, 2017 2 comments

The bench is not “finished” but it is getting there. I’ve yet to level the surface, drill dog holes, and make a sliding deadman but it definitely IS a bench!

The Twin Screw Vise Installation Challenges

Round Nuts, Barrel Nuts or Bed Bolts

I found the installation of this vice to be somewhat challenging but not in the way I thought it was going to be. Veritas put out a killer set of installation instructions and warned right up front that you should carefully read through them. I heeded the advice. Where I ran into a “wall” was attaching the rear jaw to the bench. The kit provided 4 – 5″ bolts with barrel nuts (sometimes called “bed bolts”). Although the supplied instructions were really quite detailed, in my haste I didn’t see a recommended size  to drill for the barrel nut cross hole. I now see that it was clearly shown in the drawing but not mentioned in the text portion of the instructions. The bottom-line is that I should have used a 3/4″ bit for the cross-drilled (barrel nut) hole but I think I used 5/8″. The result was that I could never line up the nut threads with the bolt and I also couldn’t get the nuts out of the recess to assess the situation. I came to realize the hole should be larger but now had trouble figuring out how to enlarge it. If I could get the nut out, I could plug it with a length of dowel and re-drill the larger hole. If I could get the nut out. Insert PG-13 language here. Everything had been going so well to this point, then I made of mess of it.

I took a break and came back fresh and decided, to move ahead I was going to drill through my bench, from the top so I could extract the nut, make a larger hole and have two points of contact to line up the nut. Hey, I’m a woodworker, I can always patch the top. It worked and although I struggled a bit more with the four bolts, I was finally able to affix the rear jaw securely to my bench! I was following the instructions but I still made an error along the way.

Working on the Chain Gang

Sorting out how long to make the chain for my particular installation was also confusing to me. A nice table is provided as an aid, and I began by counting links on the long (53″) chain provided. According to the chart, I needed more than 56 but slightly less than 57 links. I counted out 57 (3 or 4 times) then began to “file off” the peened heads to remove the excess chain. Didn’t work as I would have anticipated. Filing the peened heads also files off the side of the link and even so, the rods connecting the links didn’t budge. Whether I used a file or the bench grinder I had the same result. I pulled out my Dremel with a cut-off when and was able to make more surgical cuts through the rod ends. Finally success!

Bottom-line was that 57 links seemed way too long, so I cut another link out. This should have worked but alas, even with two chain rollers installed the chain still seemed too long. Of course, this is my first time with a device like this so is the chain too long or am I doing something wrong? I cut out a second chain and now, it’s too short so I added back the provided ½” and called it good.

Cover Me

One of the last steps was to cut the aluminum cover to length. Boy, I didn’t want to cut that too short so I dry fit the two End Caps and marked the cover. The good news was that my band saw cut through the aluminum like butter. I didn’t want to dull my blade but hey, I needed this cut. It was close but I ended up taking another 1/16″ off the end and buttoned up the project.

Veritas Twin Screw Vise

You learn a lot, the first time through a new project and it would certainly be easier, the second time through one of these installations. My handles don’t line up and my chain seems to rub in one spot but I’m calling it good for now. Next up, leveling the bench, dog holes and perhaps a sliding deadman.

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Two-Day Workbench – Part 4

August 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Next on my list was the installation of my Veritas Twin Screw vise. I dutifully read the installation guide several times as they had warned on the front page. Frankly, after the installation challenges of the “simple” face vise I have been both encouraged and simultaneously intimidated at the task of installing this chain linked twin screw.

The Twin Screw Vise Jaws

As with the face vise jaws, I used SYP for the body of the jaws and glued on maple faces. These are the materials I had available. Because these jaws are much larger I needed to edge join two maple boards before gluing them to the SYP backs.

I began by milling all the pieces. I rough cut all the boards on my miter saw, jointed one face and one edge on each board, planed the opposing side to rough thickness then ripped the opposing edge on the table saw to rough width. At that point I was ready to edge join the maple panels. I didn’t really have enough clamps to do both glue-ups at once. Notice I used a strip of wide tape on the bottom edge to both, hold the panels in position, and minimize glue squeeze out mess.

Edge joining the maple face for one of the twin screw vise jaws.

Once the glue had set up enough to move on, I did the same with the second jaw face. To augment my clamps, I used weights to clamp the maple panel to the SYP jaw (background of photo below). I learned on the first one, it was very slippery and even with a hundred pounds of weight on top of it. I could have strategically placed clamps on the end kept the movement to a manageable level.

Second panel glue-up and first jaw lamination in the background.

The rest of my ½ day in the shop was spent rereading the installation directions and planning. Once I had decided how wide I could space the screws given my bench dimensions, I started drilling holes at the drill press. Directions stressed that the holes for the screws need to be carefully aligned so the faces were clamped together while drilling. I drilled as deeply as my Forstner bit would allow then completed the hole on the lower jaw after separating the two. The holes look good, I’m optimistic they will be serviceable.

Next I carefully laid out the hole locations for the guide pins, 1 ¼” outboard of the screw holes and tangential to the top. I used my previous marks and several combo squares making sure to note that these holes are made on the inside faces of each jaw and the hole size for the rear jaw is smaller (to hold the pin in place) then the front jaw (to accept the protruding pin length as the jaw closes). Check, lined up the screw holes, the pins fit, good to go.

Completed twin screw vise jaws ready for installation.

Finally, I laid out the bolt locations on the rear jaw face for the 5″ bolts (Qty 4) which will be used to bolt the jaw to the bench. I counter-bored the inside face to recess the bolt head and washer then completed the 3/8″ through hole. I was now ready to mount the rear jaw to the bench but that would have to wait for another day.

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Two-Day Workbench – Part 3

August 21, 2017 Leave a comment

A couple more weekends have passed and although not yet finished, I have finally made progress with the bench build. I had to overcome, three significant problems during this time.

First, I needed some 8/4 (or thicker) hardwood to build jaws for the two vises (face and twin screw). After several dead-end leads for local hardwoods, I entertained an order from 101 Hardwoods and although the price of the wood was very reasonable, shipping would have doubled the cost. I’ve already spent significant funds on this project and I didn’t want to spend $100 on jaws alone. I resolved to make my own low budget jaws by laminating maple faces on to SYP 2 x 10’s. The maple should give better wear than the pine but the pine should hold up enough to service the vise. We will see and they can always be replaced if needed in the future.

Laminated Face Vise Jaws

Secondly, the installation of the quick release face vise didn’t go smoothly. I knew this would be a learning experience and I was careful to review several YouTube videos of vise installation prior to getting started. The instruction sheets for this York vise were admirably complicated. I first had to search the Internet to identify which of the model vises I had (the directions covered two models and they were different dimensions). Then I had to interpret all the algebraic symbols pointing out hole sizes, minimum thickness and distances, screw sizes, etc. Three different mounting scenarios were offered, two of which were OK and one was “neither usual nor recommended”.  So the bottom-line was that although unnecessarily confusing, I got a good handle on what I supposed to do, only problem was that I was unable to separate the screw/guide-rails from the base. I removed the split-ring, disengaged the threads and pull as I might, it would not slide free of the base. I tapped with a rubber mallet, I moved to metal hammer, I got a running start and tried to yank it free. No joy. Now I knew it was supposed to come apart, but this was my first installation and I didn’t want to break it. Determined I broke out my Dremel and chucked up a small sanding drum and deburred the end of the guide-rail which I suspected was the problem. Boom, that worked! An hour wasted but at least I was proceeding. Oh, I forget to mention that during this time I disassembled the quick release mechanism (split nut) which, because I didn’t pay close enough attention to its orientation, wasted another hour of assembly/disassembly until I got it working again. The good news; now I know more about how this vise works.

Workbench Build - First of Two Vises

Workbench Build – First of Two Vises

Thirdly and perhaps the most challenging of all was figuring out how to arrange my shop so that I could utilize the new bench. Not only is the new bench larger than my previous bench but frankly, I was tired of constantly bumping in to things as I worked. Before I went to my wife and convinced her I needed more space, I decided to rearrange the shop using my existing space. For this I visited Grizzly Tools and used their Shop Planner. Having previously saved my shop, I had fun moving things around to see if a new arrangement was going to work. I have a few goals in mind.

  1. Room for the new bench
  2. Plenty of room to work around the new bench
  3. Access to my large floor standing tool chest
  4. Conversion  of my armoire (currently used for tool storage) into a computer desk

Here is the before and after.

Workshop - Before

Before

Workshop - After

After

Saturday, I rearranged the shop to look more like the “After” plan above. It was time-consuming and disheartening and I created as many problems as I was hoping to solve but  by Sunday I was able to work again. It’s early days yet but I think the new layout is going to work.

My computer and chair, tool chest and sharpening station are against the near 12′ wall. There is room around my bench although I found that pushing it almost against the left 8′ wall (under the tool pegboard) was going to work best. This allows my to run power to a bench leg, reach tools and leave the most room at the other end of the bench for the twin screw “tail” vise. I show the table saw and outfeed table oriented as thought the operator was near the workbench but I actually had to flip it so that I could pipe in the dust collector hose more efficiently. I would prefer it this way but I had to be practical. The little square “above” the outfeed table is my joinery bench which is now in the way of the table saw but if I scoot it back I can operate. As pictured would be way better if I can sort dust collection.

Turtlecove Workshop - 2017

Turtlecove Workshop – 2017

Whew, that was lots of work. Join me in Part 4 for the installation of the twin screw vise.

 

 

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Two-Day Workbench – Part 2

August 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Weekend #2 of this build was spent making the workbench top. What started off very smoothly ended up being a lot of work.

The Top

Last week I decided to make the top dimensions 27 ½” wide x 70″ long x 3 ¼” thick. In a perfect world the sides of the top will be flush with the legs of the completed base. I anticipate the fit might not be perfect and that had I made the top first, it would have been easier to build the base to fit. That wasn’t going to happen so I’ll be content to be “close-enough”.  I wanted to wait another week before cutting the Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) 2″ x 8″ to allow them a little more time for acclimation to my shop.

Prior to the weekend, I made notes for a build plan which went like this:

Workbench Top Build Notes

Wood for the top was originally brought home 12′ in length. I began by cutting them in half using my circular saw between two saw horses. The boards themselves were supported by an “extra” 2″ x 10″ I had purchased on a whim. Glad I did.

12" boards cut in half to make them managable 2"x 8" SYP boards to be rough cut to 71"

I decided that it would be easier to work with the 2″x 8″ boards if I took the time to cut them all to a more consistent rough length of 71″. This went fairly quickly using my miter saw but my station precluded the use of a stop block so I had to take the time to mark each of the 11″ boards before cutting.

Each of the 11 boards were jointed on one face and one edge, then planed to 1 ¼” final thickness. I would cut two strips from each board (22 total) to give me my 27 ½” width.

SYP ready to cut into strips

I set my fence for 3 ½” (the thickness of the top) and placed the jointed edge to the fence. The plan was to glue-up three sub-assemblies with 8, 7, and 7  strips respectively. I put wax paper over my 12″ jointer and used the flat tables as a gluing surface.

One of three sub-assemblies being glued-up.

It was clear the sub-assemblies would need to be leveled (jointed) for the next glue-up. I decided to also plane the other face level and ended up with a final thickness of just under 3″. I didn’t want to thin the tops too much but I decided the actual final thickness wouldn’t make any difference however, not being flat would make a difference, so I planed them flat.

After some logistics, I worked out how I was going to complete the final glue-up. I had eight clamps which were long enough to span the top, 4 pipe clamps and 4 F-clamps. I supported the pieces on two saw horses and strategically placed 4 pieces of blue tape on the saw horses to protect the metal from squeeze out.

Three glued together to make a completed top.

Not Quite Finished

Next up, I need to square up each end and bring the top to final length of 70″. Unfortunately, I also need to do some series leveling of the top as well. I was hopeful that my precautions would have limited the amount of leveling but this SYP just wanted to move so, it moved!

With the weekend coming to a close, I decided to spend the rest of Sunday shifting things around in my shop. I mean, I can’t assemble the new bench if I don’t move the old bench, right? Chaos ensued but eventually, I can foresee order ahead.

Turtlecove Workshop in disarray

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Two-Day Workbench – Part 1

August 7, 2017 Leave a comment

Building a workbench has long been a rite of passage for aspiring woodworkers. I won’t belabor that point, nor will I debate the pros and cons of the various bench designs and traditions. After 4 years I decided it was a good time to upgrade my work surface. After a fair amount of “research” I began to narrowing down the choices and gathering up my preferences for work-holding.

  1. The bench should not be overly expensive (lavish woods)
  2. It should be within my skill set to build
  3. I wanted a decent set of plans
  4. I wanted a Veritas Twin-Screw vise on it
  5. I choose in favor of a quick release face vise over a traditional leg vise (used in the same manner however)

After looking over so many choices I found a plan I had already purchased, the “$175 Workbench by Christopher Schwarz” published in Popular Woodworking, Feb 2001. As laid out, this bench can be constructed using 8-1″ x 8″ by 12′ Southern Yellow Pine boards. I went so  far as to purchase the SYP and all the bolt hardware. At this point however, I decided to change my direction and I purchased the video, “Build a Sturdy Workbench in Two Days with Christopher Schwarz”. I did like being able to build along with Chris (built a tool chest in the way) but I also really liked the beefy legs in this alternative design. What I didn’t like as much was the Ikea “butcher block style” top. Given that I had already purchased the SYP 1″x8″s I resolved to make a laminated SYP top à la the $175 bench and use the beefy Douglas Fir base à la the Two-Day bench. I had previously coveted vises from the Lee Valley website and it took very little self-convincing to pull the trigger on my wish list.

The Model

Current plan/model of this bench build.

Basic Dimensions

Base –  48″ long x 27 ½” wide (Doug Fir)
Top – 70″ long x 27 ½” wide (SYP).  Laminate 22 strips of 1 ¼” wide x 3 ¼” thick x 70″ long.
Legs – 6 ½” x 3 ¼”
Stretchers 3 ¼” x 3 ¼”

Constructing the Base

I began constructing the base by milling 6-4″ x 4″ Douglas Fir boards to 3 ¼” on each face. I rough cut to 1″ over final length then glued up the legs.

4"x4" Douglas Fir Laminating two pieces for the leg.

Two pieces are laminated together for each of the 4 legs. After the lamination, I ran them through the jointer and planer to square them up and then each were cut to final length.

Completed workbench legs are ready

With the components cut and legs prepared it was time to cut the joinery. This plan calls for lag bolts and half lap joints. I used my dado stack on the table saw to cut the half-laps.

Cabinetmaker's triangles to keep pieces identified. Joinery finished on the legs.

I was careful to keep my plans handy (actually a SketchUp model and video) and referred to them often because “if there is a way to screw up, I will find it!” All the stretchers face inward but still mark your pieces!

Work progressed relatively smoothly but decisions had to be made about final dimensions of my bench. The upper constraint lengthwise is about 70″. The vises I purchased are both quite large so I’m racking my brain to make sure they are actually going to fit. I decided to make my base 48″ long leaving a 22″ total overhang of the top. The face vise is a minimum of 11″ wide so it just might fit with the base centered but I reasoned I can always shift it an inch or so as required. I have yet to completely figure out installation of the twin-screw only to say that it can’t span more than 27 ½” which I decided would be my final bench width. The screws will also need, presumably to fit between the bench legs which reduces the clamping capacity from its maximum potential. Oh well, everything in life has limitations…..

Decided on 48" length for the base.

With dimensions decided, I went ahead and cut the 4 short and 2 long stretchers and added the male laps on the ends.

Dry fit of the workbench base.

Confirming the base pieces all fit, I proceeded to glue-up and lag bolt both ends.

Base end pieces assembled.

Before drilling and bolting the long stretchers, I bored some 3/4″ holes in each leg face to accept work-holding appliances.

Dog holes drilled in each leg face.

Thoughts on the Two-Day Build

Considering that I’m more than two days in to this build and I’ve just completed the base, I’d estimate this build to be closer to a Two-Week build for me to complete. I have added considerable complexity it is true. In the two-day video Chris laminated two ready-made tops and I’ll be gluing up my from milled strips. I’ll also be adding two vises and hopefully, a sliding deadman.

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