I just finished building a new workbench - an exact copy of the joiner's
bench from Sam Allen's workbench book. I knew going in that the bench
wasn't going to be the crown jewel of benches. I went for utility and
economy. I built the top out of 3 laminated layers of 3/4" MDF and a top
skin of 1/4" masonite. The base is just douglas fir 4x4's and 2x4's, held
together with truss rods. It's very rigid and sturdy - just not very heavy.
I spent my money on a couple of good vises - a Record 52 1/2 front vise and
a Vertias twin-screw end vise. (I still have to install the twin-screw
Anyway, I calculated the weight of the bench to be about 215 lbs. I
compared this on paper to what I would have had if I made the whole thing
out of hard maple with a 2.75" thick top and a hard maple base and I came up
with about 250 lbs. So, even though I'm not using primo materials, the
weight difference doesn't appear to be as drastic as I thought.
My problem is that I when took my bench for a test drive I had some
problems. I have a big slab of hard maple that is going to become the vise
faces for the Veritas vise, as well as the Record vise. It is 2.75" x 8" x
60". I clamped it in the front vise on one edge, and used bench dogs and a
hold down in my board jack holes to hold it securely along the front edge of
the bench. I then took my Clifton #6 and set it for a pretty thin cut and
started planing one edge. Things went pretty good, but I clearly need to
practice my planing technique. Then I started to get some catches. I would
be applying a lot of lateral force and then hit a snag or something and the
whole bench would move. I should say, I'm a pretty big guy and so I can get
a lot of momentum (which I always thought was a good thing when hand
planing). At any rate, having the whole bench chatter across the floor was
not a good thing. I tried adjusting the plane and couldn't get it much
better. I then used my Steve Knight razee jack plane, and the Steve Knight
smoother and had similar things happen.
So, I guess my question is can this problem (i.e. getting "snags") be
eliminated if I just knew better how to adjust my planes? Is it something
to do with my technique that is causing these problems? Is hard maple not a
good first choice to practice hand planing with?
I will say that the bench is going to be a wonderful tool. It sure beats
the hell out of the workmate that I had used in the past hehe. I just hate
finishing (well, almost) a project and then finding out I need to upgrade it
right off the bat.
There are no stupid questions.
There are a LOT of inquisitive idiots.
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