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