Workbench Build: Surfacing the Top

With the workshop finished and a free weekend finally surfacing, I got started on my workbench this morning. My grandfather gave me several long oak (red/white?) beams that have been sitting in his shed for years. He also gave me several beautiful long walnut beams, one of which I plan to use for accent/alignment strips in the bench.

The bench that I’m going to build is going to be based on the Roubo that Chris Schwarz details in his fantastic book on workbenches. Ideally, as Chris suggests, the top would be a massive 4″ thick. However, to make the most of what I have, I’m aiming for ~2.75″. The boards are ~5.5″ thick, so after surfacing and ripping, I hope to get between 2.5-2.75″. This should be thick enough for my uses, and should be plenty strong (again, it’s oak). I’m rough cutting the length to 75″ at the moment, and in the end I want to be between 74-75″

For the time being, I’m working on two sawhorses that I banged together. Hopefully the mortise and tenoned workbench turns out better than these things.

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I started by hand-planing the boards on one face so that they wouldn’t rock when going through the thickness planer. My original idea was to do all of this work by hand, but after starting to plane the first beam, it became pretty clear that wasn’t going to happen. The boards were very rough and even had some twist.

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Beautiful ray figure in this oak.

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All of the boards planed and nearly flat. As I said, there is some twist in 2 of them so they will need more work. The piece all the way to the right is the walnut board, which is fairly warped. I’m hoping to be able to save enough of it after planing to add two strips to the bench.

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Tons of shavings…

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The Workbench Build


Loss Is Gain

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Bacon Bits – Part 2: Maple Goodness

Well, almost two months in and things are really picking up steam. The bathroom, kitchen and house siding are almost complete, and the garage and porch are well underway.

Bathroom

Before

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After
The tub, toilet, vanity and laminate were all ripped out and replaced. They were able to put a frosted window in as well, which is great because it gives good natural light. A boxier, bigger tub was put in, walls and floors were tiled and a smaller profile toilet and vanity were put in. All that’s left is the lighting, mirror, double curtain rod and shelving.

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Kitchen

Before

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After

Cabinets were taken out (and saved for my garage) and replaced with new painted maple cabinets. We added an island for extra counter space, since the middle was wasted floor space. We picked Azul Platino granite with maple butcher block for the island, and a polished venitino marble for the backsplash. The fluorescent lighting was removed and we added can lights.

Crown molding still needs to be put in, along with the 2 hanging island lights and under cabinet lights, and the new back door.

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For the first time since we’ve been married, we have a drawer to keep our silverware in!

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Exterior

Siding

The vinyl has almost been completely removed and replaced with hardiplank. It comes primed, so the color is pretty much the same as the old vinyl. Once it’s on, it will get painted. I think we are going with a dark green.

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Garage/Porch

The footings and brickwork are complete for the porch and garage, but progress has slowed recently due to rain. The next step is to level both with dirt, and pour the concrete, then frame. Last few days have been somewhat dry, so hopefully that’ll happen in the next few weeks.

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PUSH

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Had the pleasure of painting a wall at Push Digital this weekend. Went well, and is probably one of my favorite things I’ve ever pieced. The fumes were pretty rough towards the end, but I actually wore one of those cheap respirators the whole time – a new record! No more sneezing in tie-dye for the rest of the day.

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Bacon Bits – Part I: Jr Bacon

It’s official (finally)!  The Bowens have a new home on Bacon Avenue.  While fully move in ready, we are going to be doing some pretty major reconstruction to it while we live there.  We were finally able to close on the 17th, and the contractor has just started to take trees down and start the work.

The House

The house we bought was originally a home built by Habitat for Humanity that was later sold.  It sits at the end of the street, with a nice big backyard.  While we will be having work done to it, the basics are all there and everything is in great shape.  The engineered hardwood floors are a nice bonus, as is the nice open kitchen.  And natural light.  Lots of windows, which we are really excited about.

The Name

While our house dead-ends one side of Bacon Avenue, our very good friends live at the last house on the opposite end of the street, appropriately titled the Baconator.  Our new next door neighbors also remodeled an old Habitat home, and they documented the whole process on their site – We Live on Bacon.  Our house is a bit smaller than the Baconator, so we dubbed it Jr Bacon.  

Had to have the “Bacon” novelty…

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The ‘Hood

Bacon Avenue is in the “Historic West End” of Charlotte – essentially in Biddleville.  It’s about 1.5 miles from the heart of Uptown, Charlotte.  Historically a fairly diverse area, it was the subject of a mini-documentary you can see here.

The Changes

Interior

While most of the reconstruction is exterior work, we are doing some things inside.  The first thing we did when we closed was to get in and repaint all of the ceilings, walls and trim.  What a difference that made.  Couldn’t have done it without our parents, as well as the master painter, Don Bowen (my granddad).

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The other plans for the inside are to remodel the kitchen and the main bathroom.  The layout of the current kitchen is pretty good, but the cabinets are getting old and there are some things that could be rearranged to give more cabinet space.  The plan is to install Maple cabinets, new countertops (granite woot!) and a center butcher block island, as well as new can lights to give better light over the whole space.

The bathroom work is pretty standard – a better tub, new vanity and a transient window over the tub to provide natural light.

Exterior

The house right now is all vinyl siding.  Soon, that will all go and will be replaced by more durable (and better looking) hardboard siding.  We decided to pull the siding off by ourselves in order to save on labor costs…you’ll find out in a future post whether or not that was a good idea.

The current porch will be removed and a new porch will be built in the center of the house.  We’re bring out the dimensions from ~6’x4′ to 22’x8′.  Can’t wait to have a central outside place to hang out with neighborhood friends (I work with a guy who lives down the street, and several families from our church are within walking distance).

The right side of the house, until this week obstructed by overgrown bushes and trees, will become the new driveway that leads to…wait for it…the garage/workshop.  Easily the thing I am most excited about, it will be a modest 1 car garage that will give us some extra storage space (and woodworking shop), since we are losing a little square footage inside.

Future site of the garage/workshop:

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Future driveway:
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The rest of the yard will be fenced, and soon after we’ll be looking to begin planting.  The previous owner planted a few Asian pear trees that we are excited to see produce fruit.  The soil seems rich, and there are all kinds of things growing in (and out) of the garden box – blueberries, wild strawberries, honeysuckle and a variety of trees and shrubs I have no idea how to identify.

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And that, for the time being, is that.  We are so excited to be moving in this weekend and thankful for all of the help we’ve received from family and friends.  Six trees were taken down this week and work should begin soon.  We’ll keep updating the blog as things progress.

– Ryan & Samantha –