Back to Shop Made Tools

I Meant To Build It This Way!

That is what we all say to disguise a mistake ... yes

I should title this "How not to build a bench"!

There has been some progress, but it has been a lot slower than I planned owing to changes made, and t
he repairs to these changes, and then being in two minds about the installation of the tail vise. 

First of all, the bench top has now reached the stage where it is recognisable as a bench top. I glued the sections together to look like this .. 


Next comes the dog hole strip. This was a little more complicated than it needed to be owing to the absence of the requisite board to build it. I searched Perth high and low for more timber, but there is no European Oak to be had in small qualities. So I decided to use the off-cuts from the bench build and create a modular system of dog holes. The advantage here would be the freedom to fit them into the system I will finally decide on. System? More on this later. 

Building dog holes: The dog holes are 1" wide and 1 1/2" deep across the top. They are angled towards the vise at 2 degrees. The dog in the BC tailvise is the same size, and also angled forward by 2 degrees. 

The dogs need to be centred in the dog strip. First the dog strip board is resawn ... 


Then a jig was built for the router ... 


... and the dog holes machined out .. 


The "bumps" are to prevent the dogs dropping out of the dog holes. 

Finally, the two boards were glued together .. 


The result was a bunch of dog hole strips with each dog hole 3" apart .. 

... which I cut to fit the length here, but which I can re-configure as I wish later on (also, note the difference in size of this 75" bench top length versus the <60" length of my old bench) ... 

The width of the bench here is 20". The final width is expected to be between 21" and 22". 

What is the issue? 

Essentially, there are two choices. Either the dog holes are placed as close to the edge of the bench (say 2 1/2", as above), which makes it easier to use when rebating, planing moldings, and other edge treatments ... or, the dog holes are arranged so that the vise can hold work over the rear leg, which is useful for work that requires hammer blows, such as morticing. 

The problem is that you cannot have both systems. You have to choose. In the situation where the dog holes are close to the edge of the bench, they will be interrupted by the legs (which are 5" wide and 3 5/8" deep). Consequently, there will be dead spots along the edge of the bench. In the case of the dogs being situated at a distance to the inside of the legs, they will have to be about 3 1/2" - 4" out from the bench edge. 

In the case that I go with the second option, I shall need to extend the width of the bench by 1 1/2". And no more European Oak. I decided I would use Tasmanian Oak as a substitute. It is interesting that Tassie Oak is not an oak but a Eucalypt, yet its colour and grain of the edge grain is very similar to the European Oak ... 


The Tassie Oak is a little lighter in colour, but after a year I doubt that anyone would pick it out. 

Now the other area I had a change of mind was the bench height. In an earlier post I wrote that a height of 30" appeared to work when planing. This was a result of using Chris Schwarz' "pinky test". Over the next couple of days the thought began to firm that planing is just one activity - I prefer a higher bench for detail work, such as the moldings I made with H&R planes - and that I have become used to a 34" bench height. I decided to compromise at 32". 

Unfortunately ... I had already cut the legs for a 30" high bench. To make matters more stressful, the bench top thickness is going to end up closer to 3 1/2" than 4". The slight difference in thickness does not bother me, but this affects the bench height. 

So now I began to obsess about how I could fix the legs. 

Fortunately, when I cut them to length I left the tenons long - 2" in total. The final tenon length will be 1". 


Here is one idea, which I shelved: molding made with the above-mentioned H&Rs .. 


This was too busy for my taste, even if I stained the pieces dark. 

I ended up with this ... 


Back to the bench top. Here is the BC end vise (with dog hole strip) ready for installation. Just a final decision to make about the choice preferred ... 

Regards from Perth


January 2012