So the country is a c-hair away from mandatory quarantine and my local lumber yard went out of business. There is no way I’m paying home center or pre-surfaced lumber prices during a global pandemic. So I guess I’m stuck with what’s on hand. And what’s on hand is workbench material (among other things, for another post).
I’ve been working off my 6 foot long Nicholson-style workbench since the beginning of the year. The Nicholson form is growing on me (coming from almost a year with my Vasa-style stretcher-less workbench). But 6 feet is a bit too short for my taste. Not because the boards I’m working with are often over 6 feet (they are, but that’s not the point). But, rather, in my small shop, I rely on the far end of the bench for assembly and tool storage and there just isn’t much real estate down there.
Pictured above is 10/4 hard maple. 98″ x 17.5″ worth, which is a bit over 2.25″ once fully thicknessed. That feels a bit narrow to me, so some 8/4 hard maple will build out the back edge of the bench (to bring it to 19.5″ of footprint, assuming the legs are flush to the edges). I also have enough off-cuts of 10/4 for the aforementioned legs (which will be lapped in at angles of about 14 degrees) and one leg vise chop.
I recognize that 2.25″ is a bit bit thin for a workbench slab, even in hard maple. However, the balance of the 8/4 hard maple will become an approximately 12″ wide apron for the front. That front apron will be glued to the edge of the top slab (to further expand the working depth to about 21.5″). The apron will significantly stiffen the front edge of the slab (i.e., the working area). I also plan to reinforce the holdfast holes with strips of 4/4 hard maple, so a good portion of the bench will end up over 3.25″ anyway.
On top of all that, there will be cross-stretchers spanning the legs and flush with the underside of the workbench. So as long as I chop directly over the front left leg (by the leg vise), there will be plenty of stiffness.
That said, I don’t do a ton of heavy mortising these days. I prefer to bore out the majority of the waste and pare down to the lines.