Undercarriage roughed out

I decided to make the undercarriage out of common redwood 2 by 6s.  I decided this because I have it just laying around.  I designed a deck for a friend and helped him build it.  It is the curse of the handy that friends come around when they need help with a project.  They have another set of friends they ask when they have tickets to the basket ball game.  The plus side is that he let me keep the extra wood.  I happen to like redwood and the only things better than using redwood is using redwood you got for free.  I think it will go well with the LVL top.  You can see from the photo that I have four legs and four stretchers all roughed out.



The Undercarriage Design

I am going to make the undercarriage out of construction 2 by 6 s milled to 1.25″ by 5″  I will laminate them together to make the mortise and tenons.  The legs will be 5″ square. Here is the pieces.


My Vise Screw

I decided I want my bench to have a leg vise.  I really like  the wooden screws.  They have about 2 tpi thread and quickly open and close.  However, a quality new one would cost quite a bit and the cheap ones just lack quality and are not something I would want on my bench.  The best of the lot come from  Lake Erie Tools.  They are made of a very good grade of maple, are a work of art,  but cost  close to $200 for the screw, nut, and handle.  I thought I would have to settle for a Lee – Valley steel screw until I checked eBay.


I found some people that buy broken old benches and salvage the parts.  This is from a bench well over 100 years old and is in very good shape.  When they found out that I intended to actually use it for woodworking and not just hang it on the wall of some pub or boutique, they cut me a good deal.  I got it for $76.35, including shipping.  The tape measure shows that it is 24″ long.  It is such a pretty thing.  A little bit a paint on it but that will clean up.

So far my running total is $176.35

I got the top

I agree with the professor that for a top 5″ thick, most any material will work.  I decided on laminated veneer lumber (LVL).  You can think of it as plywood beams, except the the grain in the veneers all run the same direction.  It is extremely expensive.  I went to Craig’s List and found a lumber yard that sells surplus lumber.  They have stacks of everything.  I found a 40 ft 3.5″ by 5.25″ LVL beam for only $100. I had it cut into 6, 74″ pieces.  It is dirty and weathered, as you can see, but I can see the beauty inside.  Nothing an afternoon on the joiner and planer won’t fix


Total is $100.

It’s not just a bench, it’s a process

I recently retired and I am getting back into fine woodworking.  Particularly hand tools.  This summer I took a three week class at the College of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg CA (go Elephants!).  Until I used their benches I didn’t realize what I was missing.  I came home and decided I would buy one.  Well I couldn’t find one that met my requirements so I decided to build my own.  I got a copy of The Workbench Design Book  by Christopher Schwarz.  It is an amazing book.  Now I must warn you that my construction will not be as heavy on the hand tools  as Prof Schwarz’.  An old saying goes that if all your tools are hammers then all your solutions look like nails.  My skill set with hand tools pales in compassion with the professor.  So my solutions will differ from his.  I will continue to call him professor until he writes to tell me his preferred title. (Regent of Wood? Prince of Plane? The Big Tool?)

My bench will be 70″ long, 20″ deep, and 34″ tall.  The top will be 5″ thick.  The size is dictated by the size of my shop (22′ x 24′). I would like to make it taller (I’m 6′ 4″ )  but will sit behind my table saw and needs to not interfere with the saw’s out feed. If I need it higher I can away put spacer’s underneath the legs.


From my sketch you can see I am building a Roubo bench. Andre  Roubo was an 18th century cabinet maker that documented woodworking in France.  The professor can tell you much more if you are interested. I do not have details about the vises because I don’t have any (except maybe caffeine, alcohol, anything deep fried, and E A Berg chisels from Eskilstuna Sweden.)  You can also see that I am cheating when it comes to cutting the tenons for the legs.  It will keep a running tab on the cost of this bench.  The rules are if I go out and buy it, then it counts.  If I find it around my shop, it doesn’t.  Fair?

More later