So, we left off with the bench pretty much being done.. Just needed to flatten the top, apply some finish, chamfer edges, stuff like that.
Actually, one of the first things I needed to do was put some 3/4” holes in the rear part of the bench for holdfasts or any other standard 3/4” bench accessory. How do you drill a 3/4” hole in a 4” bench top? Well, I seriously considered setting the benchtop on my drill press (I’ve got a monster of a drill press). But, in the end, I figured a brace and a bit would do just fine. The secret is to stop right when the screw tip pokes out the bottom of your hole, and then drill up from the bottom so there’s no blow-out.
Here’s one coming along nicely:
And another one:
And so on… Chris Schwarz was right though. After you do a couple of these, you get a feel for what is perpendicular, and you don’t even really need the squares anymore. It was quite a workout though, ash is some tough wood.
Next, I had to do some final tuning in a few places before I could call it a day and move on to chamfering, flattening, and finishing. A ferret could make a home in this gap between the leg and benchtop…
Anyways, after some fine-tuning, some cleanup, I got onto the flattening. I’m not gonna cover that subject here, it’s been done to death. It takes a little while, and you need to be careful not to introduce twist, but it’s not so bad. And when you’re almost done, and you start getting 9’ long, full width shavings, it’s pretty cool. Also, if you happen to have a Lie-Nielsen No8? Absolute heaven.
Now, here is where I depart from the benchcrafted plans a little bit. I spent quite a bit of time debating whether or not I actually wanted a split-top or a solid top. I ended up going with the split top because I think it would come in very handy for securing pieces like drawers after glue-up, to do final planing. I wasn’t very interested in the tool storage in the “gap-top” in the middle of the bench. I don’t have a dedicated wall or handy storage spot for most of my stuff, so I knew that almost my entire tool set would come to live in that gap-stop, which would be a real pain.
So, I copied what I saw Jameel do on “steve’s roubo”, and built a nice tool rack for the back left part of the bench. Here’s a couple pictures of that coming together.
Like I said, I don’t have a spot for most of my tools, so I made sure this rack would have space for my saws, most of my chisels, etc..
So, we’re pretty much done!! Of course, there is much that was done that isn’t pictured. Chamfering, building the shelf underneath, making 18 bench dogs (Jameel said make a dog for every hole. I must obey.) But who cares, let’s get to the finished product right? I used BLO as a finish, and I’ll admit that I regretted it as soon as I wiped it on. I had gotten used to the very light color of the ash, and the BLO turned it just a little too yellow for my taste. I guess I could have used tung oil, or maybe even just paste wax.
Sweet! I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t a lot of work, because it was. It was probably about 3 months from start to finish, with two trips to the hospital for good measure. Definitely worth it though. And if you haven’t had the chance to try out the Benchcrafted vises, well, you should. They are worth every penny. It is hard to describe the clamping power, but I guess all I can say is you can definitely believe the hype surrounding them.
Next up.. Finishing that blanket chest I’ve been working on.