Today marks a milestone for the rebirth of my new shop. I finally have clamps around the boards that will soon (hopefully) be my new bench.

This last week, my wife and I went to the BORG, and selected the lumber for both the top and for the trestle.

Selected lumber was of the kiln dried, yet twisty and knotty variety. While it was grating on me every step of the way, and I wished for nice, clean Maple to use, I had purposed to build an aesthetically pleasing (to me), yet wholly utilitarian WORK-bench.  NOT a show piece for the cover of Fine Woodworking magazine. Absolutely NOT some showy compensation medium to show off in the woodworking discussion forums. (Not that there is anything wrong with showing off one’s handiwork though) So Douglas Fir is the timber of choice for this bench.

I chose to use kiln dried 2″x6″x8′ boards to laminate for the top. 4″x4″x8′ timbers will be fashioned into the trestle.

Today, I picked up the lumber, and took it to the shop to mill it down and glue it up. (pictures soon. I was just too busy and too stressed out during the glue up to take any today). After milling, I have a top that looks to be about 22″ wide by 8′ long by nearly 6″ thick in the rough. I should be able to get a top that nets out at around 21″22″ wide by 51/2″ – 5″ thick and enough length to have  7 feet in length. Because the wood has a rabid desire to twist itself into knots, I will cut a pair of tenons, one at each end, for a bread board type assembly. This will either diminish this tendency, or be the means by which the top tears itself apart.

Today, during the glue up, I was shocked by how “thirsty” the wood was. By this I mean, the wood just soaked up tons of glue. I have this nagging fear that, once I take the glue up out of the clamps, it will start popping apart due to glue starvation. This is not an unusual feeling when doing an involved glue up like this. The boards are wide, and long, and they hold the promise of becoming a tool in my work shop. Better still, a tool that I built myself, but they are by no means easy to glue up.

Still, the fear of glue failure, and thus, craftsman failure, is still present. It’s departure requiring a removal from the clamps, and some time dimensioning it before I can relax, be assured that the glue is holding,  and that the top will not self destruct.

Once my nerves are calmed sufficiently,  I can begin the work of sizing the 4×4’s into feet, legs, rails, and trestles. This is also a potentially stressful step in the bench building. Large tenons and mortises will need to be laid out accurately. Cut with purpose, and fit with a deft touch. The trestle is actually the piece of the puzzle that, while not as “sexy” (?) as the top, it is absolutely crucial to get right. Even if the top turns into splintery shrapnel once pulled out of the clamps, the trestle can always accept another, different top.

Anyhow, it is in the clamps and it is up to the ghosts of Tage Frid and Jim Krenov and fate, as to the eventual health of the top. It will be, what it will be.

The last thing is going to be the vises. While I have more than my share of VICES, I do not have any VISES as yet. Things being what they are financially, I am just happy to be able to worry over the building of the top and trestle.

I did finally decide on a simple front vise from Lee Valley, and the larger version of their standard front vise, for my end vise. Annoyingly, the vise purchases will nearly be as expensive as the nominal outlay for the timber….that’s what you get when you are thrifty in your wood selection I guess.

Anyhow, Things are happening. I will be sure to get some pictures posted as things progress.

Until then, I will just keep my fingers crossed that today’s endeavors were not in vain……

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4 thoughts on “CLAMPED UP

    1. madcapwoodwright Post author

      Its a process. The top is in clamps now. Once removed from the clamps, assuming it stays together, it gets dimensioned, and flattened. That is where the rubber will meet the road. With luck, the laminations will hold together and I will have a nice Douglas Fir bench top to put on top of the soon to be built trestle, and hang vises from.


    1. madcapwoodwright Post author

      I have been a total CL and Fleabay junkie. If I can find a nice BIG Record vise….it WILL be mine for my face vise. Otherwise, I may just buy two Lee Valley large face vises and use one on the face, and one on the end.



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