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Thread: Frank Pellow’s Woodworking Bench Project

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Frank Pellow’s Woodworking Bench Project

    Background:

    I “finished” constructing and populating my shop two years ago this spring, but a big item that has been missing is a proper woodworking bench. One of the things that held me back was that I could not figure out where to put such a bench. Almost everything in my shop is mobile and I thought that a bench needed to be stationary. Then, a year ago I visited Rick Thom’s shop and saw his bench that is mounted on a General International mobile base. Here are few photos of Rick’s bench:

    Front view of Rick’s bench: Attachment 6493

    View of the top of Rick’s bench from the end with vise: Attachment 6490

    Top view of the end vise of Rick’ bench: Attachment 6489

    The bench certainly seemed sturdy enough, yet it could easily be moved. I resolved then and there to make a bench modeled upon Rick’s.

    Here are some notes that I took about Rick’s bench:
    • Bench size: 27” by 72”
    • Bench height: 33”
    • Cabinet size: about 24” by 48”
    • The top is made from 2” by 1” maple glued together with Elmer’s Probond. It was laminated in two sections each of which was then run through a planer. The two sections were then joined together and a skirt was affixed to the edges. It was then covered all-round with two coats of shellac. Rick says that the skirt at ¾ inch on the long sides is too narrow and he will augment it to properly support clamping.
    • The cabinet support pieces are pine and are joined with mortise and tenons. The sides are 1 inch plywood. The drawers are maple with dovetail joinery and are on “standard” side drawer runners.
    • The bench top just sits on the cabinet.
    • The end vise is from Lee Valley (catalogue number 70G08.02) The front vise is a Record clone.
    • The bench is mounted on a General International mobile base. The bench is very easy to move but, once the wheels are lowered, it is very stable.
    • The ¾ inch dog holes are spaced 6 inches apart. They are angled 2 degrees towards to vice. All holes were drilled with a auger bit in a hand held drill employing a simple shop made jig.

    Like Rick, I want to build a practical and useful bench but spend as little money as necessary on it.

    Early in 2006, I helped my neighbour Norm clean up his basement and garage and Norm gave me quite a lot of hard maple scrap that he had been saving for years. Here is a photo of some of that maple:

    Attachment 6491

    There were lots of pre-drilled holes in the wood, but I managed to cut around them and come up with these boards to be used for my bench top:

    Attachment 6492

    I generally work in my shop from late October to early April and outside at various projects from mid April to mid October. Making a woodworking bench was supposed to be one of the projects that I got to early in the current shop session. Well, better late than never –I got started on it last week and it will be the last major project of the session. In fact, I have already started some outside projects, so the bench project will probably drag out for a some time as a “rainy day” task.
    Last edited by Frank Pellow; 03-29-2007 at 04:57 PM. Reason: spelling
    Cheers, Frank

  2. #2
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    Alright Frank, what's the deal with the wierd sized pics? Afraid the background of Rick's shop might frighten us?

    I like the dovetails. The bench top design makes me thinl the bench is nice and heavy.
    Jim

  3. #3
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    sweet project you've got going there Frank. Can't wait to see it built and in use!
    -Ned

  4. #4
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    March 28th (post 1 of 2)

    Here is what has been done so far on the bench. As usual with my project descriptions, I will number the steps and include a lot of pictures.

    01) The first step was to joint two sides of the salvaged maple boards.

    Attachment 6494

    My shop undergoes somewhat of a transformation in order to use my jointer. The good news is that it is really easy to move my equipment to accomplish such transformations.

    02) The boards have now been jointed on two sides and are awaiting the planer.

    Attachment 6495

    03) The boards have now been prepared on all four sides and the thicjness is marked on each board.

    Attachment 6496 Attachment 6497

    04) The boards have now all been cut to length and dry assembled.

    Attachment 6498

    The size of the top (without a skirt) is roughly 150 centimetres by 50 centimetres and 5 centimetres thick..
    Last edited by Frank Pellow; 03-29-2007 at 07:39 AM.
    Cheers, Frank

  5. #5
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    March 28th (post 2 of 2)

    05) The boards for one half of the top are laid out and ready to glue:

    Attachment 6499

    After some research, I decided that my best bet was Titebond III glue. Once the glue has been applied, one has 10 minutes to work with it, so I needed to move fast. The combination glue bottle and roller that is shown in the picture helped quite a bit with the speed and the quality of the glue application.

    06) Here the boards are all clamped together (just a little over 8 minutes from when I applied the first glue) :

    Attachment 6500

    07) After leaving the two glued up segments for about 18 hours, I ran them both through a planer:

    Attachment 6501

    08) Here the two bench top segments are first awaiting glue up, then after glue up:

    Attachment 6502 Attachment 6503

    09) I cut the two ends straight using my Festool circular saw on a clamped rail:

    Attachment 6504

    The blade was not quite large enough to cut all the way through, but the small remnant was easily removed (as were the burn marks) with a sander.

    10) And the last photo of this report shows me sanding the top:

    Attachment 6505

    I used 80 grit paper and that certainly will be good enough for now. Later on after the dog holes have been drilled, and before a finish is applied I will do a better job of smoothing the top.
    Cheers, Frank

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Young View Post
    Alright Frank, what's the deal with the wierd sized pics? Afraid the background of Rick's shop might frighten us?

    I like the dovetails. The bench top design makes me thinl the bench is nice and heavy.
    I always crop my pics to cut out things that are not relevant. And, for this thread, Rick's shop is not relevant.

    I like the dovetails too. Rick tells we that they are hand cut. However, I will probably use mortise and tennons, rather than dovetails.
    Cheers, Frank

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Pellow View Post
    Background:

    Rick says that the skirt at ¾ inch on the long sides is too narrow and he will augment it to properly support clamping.

    I totally agree with that. My bench was like that and last month I just modified it where the whole underside is the flat with the bottom edges so that I could clamp without it being such a pain in the tail. I think that you would need at least four inches of clampable surface. More would be better.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Bookout View Post
    I totally agree with that. My bench was like that and last month I just modified it where the whole underside is the flat with the bottom edges so that I could clamp without it being such a pain in the tail. I think that you would need at least four inches of clampable surface. More would be better.
    Thanks for the advice Allen. I am planning on the end skirts being about 3 inches wide and the side skirts about an inch and a half wide. Thats better than Rick's 3/4 inch but not as good as the 4 inches that you suggest. The middle portion of the side skirts will be the same thickness as the rest of the bench to accomodate clamping. Here is a scetch:

    Attachment 6519

    In the scetch the end skirts are yellow and the side skirts are green.
    Last edited by Frank Pellow; 03-29-2007 at 08:02 AM.
    Cheers, Frank

  9. #9
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    That should do it. A thousand times better than 3/4 of an inch, that is for sure.

  10. #10
    Alan DuBoff is offline Former Member (by the member's request)
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    Frank,

    I hate you!

    I'm slowly moving forward with my bench, but still don't have the top glued up yet. I laminated a piece of hickory for the front apron with my daughter on last Sat., I used 3 x 8' lengths of hickory, even though I only need about 6 1/2 ft. Can't hurt to have a length of 2 1/4" thick hickory, for handles or similar.

    I want to keep working on the base, and get the top glued in 3 or 4 pieces, then glue those together. That way I can use my porta-potty planer to flatten those sections before glue-up.

    Again, I hate you for moving along so quickly! Don't you know how to procratonate?

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