Lessons Learned (So Far)

A few things on the workbench build thus far:

  1. Always check your glue expiration date.  I’ve been agonizing this entire week over whether or not the first lamination of eight boards will hold up.  The PVA glue I used was (unbeknownst to me) nearing its expiration date.  After clamping the work for over 72 hours, I am leaving it un-clamped for another 72 hours or so.  By the time I check the lamination again on Saturday morning, if the glue is going to give, it will have (or so customer support told me).
  2. Finished length is never enough.  A twelve foot board from the home center is usually no more than 1/2″ overlong.  Subtract the kerf from crosscutting it to rough length and (theoretically) you’ve got about 3/8″ extra from which both ends need to be squared.  It never really works out that way, and I’m always short of my desired 72″ length.  An end cap on the tail vise side to cover the inner vice chop will get me back over six feet for the main bench (plus whatever thickness the outside tail vise chop will be).
  3. Finished thickness is never enough.  A home center 2×10 is about 1 1/2″ thick off the rack, but do not use this as the base multiple for buying the bench top lumber.  After dressing for the glue up, I was lucky that one or two of the boards even came in at 1 3/8″ thick.  Most were closer to 1 1/4″.  Eight boards combined for only 10 1/2″ of total depth (or an average of 1 5/16″), so I needed to buy another twelve foot 2×10 just to complete main core of the bench top.
  4. Remember the limitations of your tools.  All of Item Three aside, I own a 13″ thickness planer.  This means the actual core can only be ten boards total and still fit through.  Each of the laminations containing the mortises (3 boards thick each) must therefore be created separately and added onto the main slab after.  If I can get the mortise laminations square and straight (using the dressed core slab as a reference), they can each be glued onto the main slab (with fresh glue, this time, and maybe a lag bolt or two) to full the form bench top.
  5. Improvise.  The total bench top lamination described in Item Four is sixteen boards deep, and should be approximately 21″ total.  This is a fine depth for a bench, but I plan to add one more board to the show face of the assembled bench (i.e., to the bench top and the front legs.  Party because I know dressing the entire slab will remove additional material and partly because it will allow me to move the dog strip out of the mortise layer.  I already have the prettiest boards set aside.

Sorry for the block text.  This was more an exercise of me thinking through these issues than content generation.


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