Frank Pellow’s Woodworking Bench Project

Frank Pellow

Member
Messages
2,332
Location
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
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: Front view -small.jpg

View of the top of Rick’s bench from the end with vise: View of the top from the end with vice -small.JPG

Top view of the end vise of Rick’ bench: Top view of the main vice -small.JPG

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:

Maple boards from Norm -small.jpg

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:

Maple that I can use for the top of my workbench -small.jpg

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:

Jim Young

Member
Messages
507
Location
Northville, MI
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.
 

Frank Pellow

Member
Messages
2,332
Location
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
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.

Woodworking bench 01 -Shed 2 arranged to use the jointer -small.JPG

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.

Woodworking bench 02 -maple jointed on two sides and awaiting planer -small.JPG

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

Woodworking bench 03 -maple prepared on all four sides -small.JPG Woodworking bench 04 -thickness marked on each board -small.JPG

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

Woodworking bench 05 -bench top boards cut to length and dry assembled -small.jpg

The size of the top (without a skirt) is roughly 150 centimetres by 50 centimetres and 5 centimetres thick..
 
Last edited:

Frank Pellow

Member
Messages
2,332
Location
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
March 28th (post 2 of 2)

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

Woodworking bench 06 -ready to glue boards for half the bench top -small.JPG

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) :

Woodworking bench 07 -clamped boards for half the bench top -small.JPG

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

Woodworking bench 08 -running half the bench top through the planer -small.JPG

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

Woodworking bench 09 -the two bench top segments ready to be glued together -small.JPG Woodworking bench 10 -the two bench top segments glued together and clamped -small.JPG

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

Woodworking bench 11 -sawing the boards even at one end -small.JPG

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:

Woodworking bench 12 -Frank sanding the top -small.JPG

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.
 

Frank Pellow

Member
Messages
2,332
Location
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
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.
 

Allen Bookout

Member
Messages
902
Location
Punta Gorda, Florida
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.
 

Frank Pellow

Member
Messages
2,332
Location
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
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:

skirts for bench.jpg

In the scetch the end skirts are yellow and the side skirts are green.
 
Last edited:

Alan DuBoff

Former Member (by the member's request)
Messages
711
Frank,

I hate you! :p

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? :dunno:
 

Art Mulder

Member
Messages
3,383
Location
London, Ontario
Frank,
I have a pretty compact shop (11x22ish) and I'm slowly changing all my mobile bases so that they have four pivoting wheels instead of the two fixed + two pivoting "shopping cart" style that seems so common.

In a small shop I find I have to do far too much pushing back and forth and zigging and zagging to get carts like that where I want them. In contrast, with four pivoting wheels I can spin it in place or even move it sideways, with no fuss.

In a large shop, I agree that the "shopping cart" style would make more sense, since it tracks better, and you have more room to do sweeping turns. In a small shop tracking isn't an issue as you don't move things far, and you do not have the room for large sweeping turns that the "shopping cart" style needs.

Just thought I'd mention this, in case you want to think about that for your bench.
 

Frank Pellow

Member
Messages
2,332
Location
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
That's good advice Art! I recently made the same decision myself, and that is what I did with the general purpose cart that I built a couple of months ago. It is also what I will do with my new bench. Eventually I will rebuild the too-high mobile support that my drill press is on and use the same type of wheels.
 

Alan DuBoff

Former Member (by the member's request)
Messages
711
Hey Allen, I have been thinking about buildng it for over a year. That sounds like procrastonation to me. :D And, with the nice wether we now have outside, I expect that I will procrastinate quite a lot beore the bench is finished.
Ok, that at least qualifies you as being a galoot!:rofl:

Seriously, that's looking good, and I have been making some progress on mine, the legs are about 4.5"x4.5", so it's gonna be hefty!

What type of vise(s) will you use?
 

Frank Pellow

Member
Messages
2,332
Location
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
...

What type of vise(s) will you use?
On one end, I will use the Large Front Vise shown at this Lee Valley link: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p=54873&cat=1,41659,41661. I already have that vise.

I don't yet know whether or not I will install a front vise when building the bench. If I do, it will proably be a Record clone such as those available from Lee Valley at: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p=49980&cat=1,41659

I might also build in a leg vise.
 

Alan DuBoff

Former Member (by the member's request)
Messages
711
Frank,

I have the large record clone from Lee Valley on a bench in my garage/shop. It works well, and for that style of a vise, I reccomend it.

The price is almost the same for the first one you linked to, which is similar in function, I don't know if there is any advantage or disadvantage to either. The clearance needed might be where one would have an advantage.

I have my vises for the new bench already and will be using a twin-screw on the end, and an emmert clone on the front.

I suspect you'll finish before me at the rate you're going.

I'm looking forward to getting it done.
 

Rick Thom

Member
Messages
51
I'll bet you speak French real good too. Huh can't understand a word your saying.:D :D :wave: :rofl:
Bart, it must be about 25 years since we in the (far) north adopted Metric Weights and Measures as our standard to make international trade easier. So we commonly encounter metric, Imperial (our former standard), and U.S. I am still waiting for the "easier" part to arrive.... LOL.
There is no doubt that metric is a more logic- based system.. everything is based on multiples of tens.
I don't know this with any certainty but I suspect that the measurement system used by most Canadian woodworkers is still feet and inches. Our rulers typically have both but invariably when I reach to measure something, the metric side appears and I have to hunt for Imperial. Same for packaging with French and English.
We fossils are slowly disappearing. I expect that within another generation few will recall our old measures. It appears that U.S. is moving very slowly to metric, perhaps one of the last holdouts to do so.
 

Frank Pellow

Member
Messages
2,332
Location
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
Lookin good Frank!!!! Your having to much fun.:D :thumb:

"The size of the top (without a skirt) is roughly 150 centimetres by 50 centimetres and 5 centimetres thick."

I'll bet you speak French real good too. Huh can't understand a word your saying.:D :D :wave: :rofl:
Thanks Bart. Hey, I thought that retirement was all about haveing fun (and doing good).

Bart, I expect that you are joking about the metric measurements, but in case you are not, they translate roughly to 60 inches by 20 inches by 2 inches. Sirting boards, when I build them, will add to the length and width.

I can read French fairly well but don't speak it nearly as well as should be able too. :eek:
 

Frank Pellow

Member
Messages
2,332
Location
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
Bart, it must be about 25 years since we in the (far) north adopted Metric Weights and Measures as our standard to make international trade easier. So we commonly encounter metric, Imperial (our former standard), and U.S. I am still waiting for the "easier" part to arrive.... LOL.
I have used both metric and Imperial all my life (not just starting 25 years ago) and have always found metric to be much easier.
 
Top