Can I jack plane 2x4 studs flat?

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If I laminate 6-10 construction grade 2x4s together, using a Jack plane and a sander do you think I can make a relativley decent first bench top? I've laminated 3 together already, and since the studs' corners are somewhat rounded its not so good. But I dont mind putting in a little more elbow grease with the planer if its gonna come out OK.
I got some studs free from a buddy and they are all really straight. So I was thinking about making my bench top out of them... at least having a go at it for some practice since I've never used a hand planer before.
I was counting on $50 - $60 minimum in lumber to build my bench, but with the wood he's giving me if I can use it I will only need to buy the 2 - 2x8s. I can then apply the extra $35 or so to get another cheapo plane or buy a better one to begin with.
What do you think?
Thanks, Mike W.
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Sorry, in case anyone hasn't seen my recent posts... this is the bench Im attempting to build:
http://www.terraclavis.com/bws/beginners.htm
I should have posted that in the initial posting so that you had some context as to how I would be laminating and orienting the 2x4s.
Thanks, Mike W.

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Short answer, yes.
If you have a table saw, its faster to cut 1/8 inch off 2 sides to make square corners, then finish flattening once you've glued them up.
If you plane the 2x4's to square prior to glueing up, its a lot easier.
(I just made a stand for my lathe by glueing up 2x4's to make a bench type top. (face glued, to make a top 3 inches thick, 18 inches wide). Didn't make the 2x4's square prior to glueing up. Seemed to take for ever to flatten the top.---I made the 2x4's square prior to glueing up the legs, made life much easier)
tim
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Dimwnsional lumber is generally only kiln dried to maybe 12% mc befor being sent to the lumber yard. If it has been kept indoors it has been air-drying ever since. If 'ever since' isn't very long you might get quite a bit of movement, including cupping, before that benchtop stabilizes.
Notwithstanding, plenty of people have had good luck doing as you have. I doubt that you'd need the sander, softwoods generally plane pretty darned smooth. Besides, you don't want to embed grit into the benchtop. That way if it does need to be planed again in a few weeks or months you won't have grit in the wood chewing up yhour iron.
--

FF

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lumberyard, and get some #1 Yellow Pine 2 x 10. You can rip it and glue it up, but the 2 x 10 is around for use as floor joists. Let it air dry for a while before working it flat.
--
Jim in NC



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Hey-- free is free & cheap is cheap. Maybe not the BEST material for a bench, but My YP workbench is only 30 years old. While it IS time to turn over the boards (originally 2 x 6). I think I'll just run them thru the planer once & reinstall them. By the way, the whole bench was free 20 years ago. A local college was getting new maple benches & wanted to get rid of the unsightly old pine benches that had been made by students about 10 - 15 years before. Like I say, free is free;; cheap is cheap. ESPECIALLY if it's a first bench. Phil
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[snip]

Feb 2001 Pop. Woodworking has an article on this subject. $175 Workbench. Most of that expense is in the vises that the guy put on.
Montyhp
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For "Mike W."
I'll second "Morgans" suggestion. I used SYP for my bench top ('though I did use 2x4's). However, I did joint and plane them square before the glue up. The suggestion to rip off the rounded corners is a good one, 'though I'd recommend a complete squaring up operation.
When you do the glue up, be sure to pay attention to the grain direction. On an end view of the table, alternate the annual ring direction - ()()()()() instead of ((((((((. May not do much to prevent warping in this kind of stack, but it's cheap to do and can't hurt. In a side view, make sure the grain in each stick slopes the same direction. If some slopes up to the right, and some slopes down toward the right, when time comes to plane the top and renew the surface, no matter which way you go, your will be planing against the grain on some of the boards.
Good luck. I've been quite satisfied with my 2x4 laminated SYP benchtop.
=>
=>> If I laminate 6-10 construction grade 2x4s together, using a Jack plane=>and =>> a sander do you think I can make a relativley decent first bench top?=>I've =>> laminated 3 together already, and since the studs' corners are somewhat =>> rounded its not so good. But I dont mind putting in a little more elbow =>> grease with the planer if its gonna come out OK.=>> =>> I got some studs free from a buddy and they are all really straight. So I =>> was thinking about making my bench top out of them... at least having a go =>> at it for some practice since I've never used a hand planer before.=>> =>> I was counting on $50 - $60 minimum in lumber to build my bench, but with =>> the wood he's giving me if I can use it I will only need to buy the 2 - =>> 2x8s. I can then apply the extra $35 or so to get another cheapo plane or =>> buy a better one to begin with.=>> =>> What do you think?=>> =>> Thanks, =>> Mike W.=>> =>> =>Spf is too soft for a decent bench. If you want to stay softwood, go to the =>lumberyard, and get some #1 Yellow Pine 2 x 10. You can rip it and glue it =>up, but the 2 x 10 is around for use as floor joists. Let it air dry for a =>while before working it flat. Tom Veatch Wichita, KS
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Mike W. wrote:

Time is money. Go with Douglas fir instead of cheap spruce 2x's if possible. If you're stuck with spruce, use 2x8's and rip in half. That discards the inner heartwood portion (aka "star shakes"), relieving tension and creating more stable, near-quarter sawn, timbers.
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wrote:

Save your time, spend some more money. Make your stacked softwood top, but stick a layer of 3/4" ply over the top, and a layer of 4mm MDF over that. Replace the MDF if it gets chewed in a few years time.
-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
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Mike W. wrote:

Everyone has good arguments why you shouldn't do this, but maybe they don't understand being fiscally challenged and the value of free wood the way I do. :)
I've been using a cheap kit bench for years. The top is construction grade lumber, and it isn't even laminated. It's not a very good bench, but it's been better than nothing for several years. If you laminated a similar grade of wood into something solid, and made the top flat, you'd be a leg up on me. You can always cover the top with something later, as the need arises, and as finances allow.

I've made a lot of stuff out of construction scrap. I deal with the rounded corners by cutting them off with my table saw. If you have a table saw, that's probably the way to go. Just slice enough from either side to get rid of the curvature. Use the cutoffs for paint stirs or something.
If you don't have a table saw, then you can plane them down, but it will take you quite a lot of time to remove that much material. I'm doing a project right now which involves removing 1/4" from several boards (poplar) with hand planes, and it does take some doing even on these small, box-sized pieces. If I weren't just trying to get in some practice, I would definitely seek the aid of a table saw, a router, a bandsaw, or pretty much any sort of machine to get these closer to size, and then plane down the last 1/16th or so to get them perfect. All the finesse comes in at the end anyway. Before that, it's just making shavings for the hell of it.
Once it's all glued up, you'll have to plane it again. The wood might move quite a lot, and you might even end up with a hideous mess. If I were going to laminate a bunch of 2x4s into a bench top, I think I'd want help convincing the wood to stay put. I might go across with dowels or even threaded rods. Dowels would give you less to worry about when doing the dog holes.
Finally, I'm just learning how to plane myself. Having a lot of fun, and good things are finally starting to happen, but it isn't as easy as it sounds to get things to come out straight and true. You should practice on something non-critical until you get the hang of it, before you completely screw up your bench top.

Use the $35 to buy an angle jig thingie so you can sharpen your plane iron. You'll need it. All the sharp tool nuts here are absolutely right about how much of a difference it makes. I made some shavings so thin they might only be one layer of cells thick, and I couldn't have done that before I finally got the iron sharp.
Anyway, I'm only a couple days more experienced than you when it comes to this particular set of skills, so take my advice for what it's worth.
If it were ME in your situation, I'd probably use the 2x4s, but I have extremely little cash, a comparatively large mount of time to invest, and a certain fondness for doing things the hard way sometimes.
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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I just built a bench using 3/4" maple cutoffs I got from a cabinet maker for 50 cents a board foot. First I sawed the edges fairly straight, then used biscuits and glue to make a 3" thick laminated top. If you can get a deal like this, it won't add a lot to your bench cost and the top will be harder.
Since I didn't have the equipment to joint and plane each piece before gluing it up, or the inclination to obsess on each piece with the hand plane (after all, I was building the bench I would want to use for such shenanigans), the top was basically square and flat but it definitely needed planing. I was able to get it quite flat with a jack plane.
One advantage of this lamination technique was that I could make nice 3/4" square dog holes by leaving gaps in the boards.
While planing the laminated maple, I found it hard to avoid chipout, since the grain usually runs up for a while and then down, on each board. So the grain direction is randomly changing. I still got it flat, though; it was just hard to avoid a few chipouts.
With the uneven surface, it seemed like nothing was happening at first, but once the high spots were down I started to get nice long curly shavings. I had to tune the iron carefully (and resharpen some) to keep the shavings thin, keeping planing effort and chipouts under control. I used a straightedge to check for high spots, but the 14" plane was up to the task of flattening them.
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I'm building a bench like that and I'm almost ready to add the vise hardware. Don't worry too much about the rounded corners as you'll probably remove most of that material as you flatten the top. The bigger concern for me (which I failed to notice while doing the glue up) is that the many of the boards I used were slightly thinner at the ends; probably from the milling process. This wasn't a big deal on individual boards but it added up after several boards, making a noticable curve along the edge. I had planned on a full 8 foot length bench so, if I were to do it again, I'd start with 10' lumber with the anticipation of cutting approx. 1 foot off each end.
I've almost got the top flat using just a jack plane but I plan to get some further workout using a #8C for the final touches. As Bob Keys says in his website (paraphrased): Build your first bench *now*. Then you can use what you've learned as the basis for your future dream bench.

If you plane to use the 2x8 for a tool well, be very mindful of the curvature I mentioned above. That caused a big delay in my progress.

Why cheapo? For $35, you can probably find a nice plane and if you add another $20 to $30 you can almost guarantee finding a nice plane; provided you do your homework. Before you buy, consult the wreck for guidance.

I think you're going to have a great opportunity to get *alot* of practice with wooddorking techniques and end up with a very useable bench in the process. Have fun and good luck!
Cheers, Mike
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Thanks for the advice.
One of the major reasons I am doing this is to learn some WW skills along the way. I am 100% sure that at some time down the road I will want a better bench. But for now, I just want something to cut my teeth on.
Since you're doing something similar, here's a few questions:
Have you planed the top of your bench at all yet?
Did you 'square up' your 2x4s on a table saw before you started? I have 5 laminated together so far and could start over doing something like that. I just didnt think a table saw (cheapo craftsman) would help that much... I was thinking you had to have a straight edge to go against the fence before it would help.
Note: I don't have a power jointer or power planer. As a matter of fact, I don't have a hand plane yet either. What plane do you suggest I start with?
Thanks, Mike W

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A straight edge against the fence is *not* an absolute requirement. Yes, it *does* make life a 'whole bunch' simpler, but is not an absolute necessity.
Two approaches: 1) *IF* the board is 'short', relative to the length of the fence on the saw, *AND* if the board has a single "simple" curve to it -- i.e. it is 'bowed out' on one side, with a corresponding 'bow in' on the other -- make the 1st pass with the "bowed in" side against the fence. This _should_ have just the 'ends' of the bowed part touching the fence (with a gap in the middle of the board), so you'll have a *consistent* path for the board as it goes by the blade. Eureka! You've now got a straight edge on the side that went by the blade. Turn the piece over, and cut the _other_ edge. Voila! _two_ straight and parallel edges. 2) if it's a long board, or there is more 'complex' curvature to the board -- e.g. 's-curves', or worse -- then the above doesn't work so well. The 'do it right' solution is to use a 'carrier' piece (which *does* have a straight edge, -or- has 'two-point-of-contact' with the fence) to provide the guiding contact with the fence, *and* supports the piece being cut. A piece of Masonite, particle board, or 'whatever' that you might have lying around will work fine -- as long as it is wide enough to let you 'tack it down' (some way, that is; *any* method that works is fine :) to the piece you're trying to cut, _with_ the straight edge extending out past the 'back side' of it, for the entire length of the board. This gets you one straight edge on the board, now you can remove it from the carrier, and use that straight edge against the fence to make the other edge straight. This stuff isn't difficult, merely a matter of 'out-thinking the materials you work with'. <grin>

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Thanks for that great advice. I ran a couple scrap pieces through that I brad nailed to a small piece of craft wood I had and it looks great. I glued them together to see how it was and WOW. That will save me a ton of time with a planer. Now I just need to get a board that is straight and 72" long to use with the full size 2x4s that I have. I'll also have to work out a way to put a 2x4 'sideways' on it to get 2 sides squared. Perhaps a jig?
I'm gonna scrap the pieces that I've glued up so far... after seeing the results this way I think that the time I'll save will be worth it if I have a to buy a few more 2x's. I'm not as cheap as I sound... I'm just being careful with this hobby as I have been in and out of many expensive hobbies in my lifetime with little but a few expensive toys to show for it. I want to work my way into it.
Thanks again! Mike W.

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Thanks for that great advice. I ran a couple scrap pieces through that I brad nailed to a small piece of craft wood I had and it looks great. I glued them together to see how it was and WOW. That will save me a ton of time with a planer. Now I just need to get a board that is straight and 72" long to use with the full size 2x4s that I have. I'll also have to work out a way to put a 2x4 'sideways' on it to get 2 sides squared. Perhaps a jig?
I'm gonna scrap the pieces that I've glued up so far... after seeing the results this way I think that the time I'll save will be worth it if I have a to buy a few more 2x's. I'm not as cheap as I sound... I'm just being careful with this hobby as I have been in and out of many expensive hobbies in my lifetime with little but a few expensive toys to show for it. I want to work my way into it.
Thanks again! Mike W.

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glad to help! ;)

Doesn't have to be a jig -- reel or hornpipe, or even a waltz, foxtrot, or tango; whatever works *FOR*YOU* <muffled guffaw>
Seriously, a jig cum carrier sounds like a viable approach. something a bit longer than your longest pieces, with a couple of protruding sections, one on each end, at 'just the right distance apart'. brad-nail through them, into the ends of the 'target' material, and run the whole mess through the saw. sorta like this:
(fixed-pitch font -- e.g. 'system', assumed for viewing:
" " " "          v =====| +---+ | + + | + + | + + | + + | + + | + + | + + | + + | +---+ | =====|          ^
This is just a standard 'taper jig', bing used for a 'zero taper'. <grin>

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I've done alot of planing of the top and I *thought* it was almost flat. I had some time this morning to do some work on it and I noticed that I still have a ways to go as one end is sort of cupped.

I didn't do anything to the lumber before glue up other than wipe off loose dust. In hindsight, I should have been more careful checking the boards for defects but it's not too bad and it's finally starting to look like a real bench.

I'm building my bench because I don't have a jointer and planer and a bench will make life easier for preparing stock by hand. I think the major benefit of the "bench by Borg" is that you can slap it together with a relatively low cash outlay without worrying about it being perfect. When all is said and done, all you really need is a flat stable surface. The rest is aesthetics (but I will want one of those purdy benches some day).

Well, there are alot of wreckers with *way* more knowledge than me on this topic but, for your bench project, I'd start by getting a decent jack plane. Old Stanley/Baileys (#5) are a pretty safe bet and won't set you back too far financially. You should not have to pay more than $40 total (i.e. price + shipping) and that's at the high end (okay, maybe a bit more if you're looking for a sweet Type 11, but it's not really necessary). Depending on where you live, you might be able to pick one up much cheaper. Depending on how unflat (is that a word?) the top is, a scrub plane may be helpful. And a jointer plane (#7 or #8 in the Bailey variety) will make life easier to get the top as flat as possible.
Cheers, Mike
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I'll save you the trouble of reading all those posts ready to spend your hard earned grocery money on better wood for your bench. I pretty much did exactly that. I did knock off the rounded corners at the table saw before laminating the board. Originally, the bench was made for a sharpening bench, but I still haven't had time to build my "Real" bench, so I added a face vise, drilled some round dog holes, got some round dogs and a wonder pup, and I've got a perfectly (sort of ) good temporary bench. The wonder pup thing has it's limitations. It doesn't work with thin stock. I'd kill for a decent end vise. But other than that, it's worked well so far. The top is flat and stable. Yeah, it gets scratched and dinged easily, but it's not exactly living room furniture, so who cares.
Go for it. Eric
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