My Heart and My Soul

I have poured my heart and soul into many woodworking projects.  The rolling cart for my new Craftsman tool chest is not one of those projects.  It’s a utility piece and there is no mistaking it.  That having been said, there are a few things about the project that I really like.

  • Halflap joints are exceptionally strong when done right.  The shoulder on the vertical stiles is a load bearing surface.  And if the shoulders are square to a reference face, they go a long way toward keeping the horizontal rails (and therefore the entire frame) square.  Finally, face grain to face grain glue surface translates into a joint that will never come apart.  And it’s relatively easy to cut with a single saw.

I even get to use my large tenon saw.

  • Whitewood is a joy to work.  Home center whitewood 2×4’s often have a birdseye figure that glistens after smoothing.  The wood is kiln-dried, gentle on plane irons and saw blades, and the price per board foot is unbeatable.  The frames pictured below were made with less than $6 of wood.  The entire whitewood frame for the rolling cart will cost less than $20 (and that includes 2″ decking screws).  Add in casters and a 24×48 sheet of birch plywood and that’s the entire basic cart.

The screws just hold the joint together until the glue dries.

It makes me wonder: would a whitewood workbench be tough enough?  It would certainly go together with hand tools much easier than the equivalent of Douglas Fir, I’d think.  For a light duty bench, say a 10 foot planing bench, I bet whitewood works just fine.

One last thing on whitewood: I’ve noticed is that the grain direction doesn’t quite work the same as other woods.  These boards often have the pith running straight through the middle.  This means the grain runs in the same direction on both faces.  I always manually check the grain first, because flipping end over end (like you’d do with other boards) could be a quick way to some nasty tear out.

Next up is cutting 3/4″ recesses for the long rails, then more gluing and screwing.



      1. Five or six coats of a 50/50 boiled linseed oil/turpentine finish did toughen the top up a bit, but it’s still softer than most of the hardwood in the pieces I’m working on.

        …which means that the bench takes all the damage, not the finished pieces.

        But we’re talking small dents and scuffs here, not bits breaking off or the like. The actual structure of the bench is nice and solid.

        Plus, flattening the top in a year or two is going to be a lot faster with this stuff than with (say) maple 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Interesting plan; I used the top off the bench on a pair of sawhorses for a while when building the legs and aprons for mine:

        I’m not sure it would have been as stable if built in a roubo configuration though, the english bench design seems to work better (the Stumpy Nubs roubo seems very solid, but he used 2x6s, not 2x3s or 2x4s).

        I would say that the one thing I had the most trouble with when making the bench stemmed from not laminating the entire top in one go and not focussing on getting the alignment better when doing that lamination; if I was doing it over, I’d use several cauls, get some titebond with a longer set time, and do a lot more fiddling as I clamped up to get as even a surface on one side as possible.

        Good luck with it!


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