Sunday, April 22, 2018

Truing One Edge of Workbench Slab

I'm truing the reference (outside edge) edge of the Beech slab this morning. The edge wasn't 90 degrees to the face and was slightly wavy so first up was a woodie jack plane. For some reason once it was close I dug out the Battleship instead of one of the woodie jointers. I guess I felt I needed a workout. Whatever, I got one. Once MsBubba is up I'll get her to help run the other edge through the power jointer. It will be the inside edge and it doesn't need to be perfect.

The faces of the board are flat with no wind.  Once both edges are done I'll install the Beech slab to the base and do any clean up needed after installing the small Poplar back slab.

The bench will have a small split just wide enough to hold tools with the front Beech slab about 400mm and an ~130mm Poplar back slab. I've found asymmetrical slabs/work surfaces work very well and make the top of the bench easier to build and handle.

A couple of photos of truing the edge:

One of the LN #8. I'm too damn old to push that thing around for long. I'm sweating like a pig even after coffee and writing this post:

The board is just under 2200mm long. I'll trim about 400mm off for a final length of around 1800mm.

I dug out the wood screw, chop, and vise backer board and re-installed 'em on the sharpening bench (the first traveling bench) and they worked like a champ. I also did a quick place the chop on the new bench and it looks like all I'll need to make is a new vise backer board. That should save some time.

While I've never been a fan of leg vises, most of the ones I've tried have been finicky and don't really hold any better than one of the older English QR metal vises. This one with a wood screw is not bad, in fact I could grow to like it.

I think I hear a fat lady far off in the background, it's still a little faint but.....not long until the short rows.



  1. I hadn't considered beech for my slab. I like the color - not to dark although I would like a lighter colored wood.

    1. Ralph,

      Beech has been the traditional wood for European workbenches because in Europe it is cheap and plentiful, in the States not so much because it isn't cheap and plentiful here. In the States Maple or Ash is more common for high end workbenches.

      For some reason my wood store here in Tucson has been stocking European Beech at a very good price point for a couple of years now, in fact it is usually less than a US dollar more than Poplar per BF. Go figure.

      My main workbench was made of European Beech a couple or three years ago, IIRC, I bought just under 300 BF @ again IIRC around $4.50 USD a BF. BTW, I still have some of that wood left over in the wood pile, maybe as much as 30 or 40 BF and tons of usable cutoffs some of which I made into small wood stock planes.

      It is a great wood for workbenches, easier to work than either Maple or Ash, Heavy with tight grain and light color. Its one drawback is it can and likely will do stupid wood tricks when you first get it to the shop. Once it settles in it is very stable.

      As long as it is available for about the same price as Maple or Ash it is my wood of choice for workbenches. I've also used Beech for the base of several tables, it is very nice when paired with Walnut.

      Good luck on the wood hunt and bench build, I wish you were closer, ain't much I enjoy more than building workbenches.