Workbench out of QS laminated 2x4 Douglas fir


Hi guys, I am hoping to build a 7ft laminated workbench out of 2x4 douglas fir studs (face-glued), the type you get at home improvement stores (maple is too expensive and slippery). I bought 25 KD studs that came closest to being quartersawn (along the 3.5" dimension), and let them stabilize. (They have knots, but I can live with them if they are under the surface). The question is: how to go about dimensioning and surfacing them. (I read posts dating to 1998, but few mention the surfacing problem). They are so skinny that they are hard to keep stable on any machine. Any kind of warping is hard to deal with to begin with. I have a table saw, bandsaw, 6-inch jointer, and portable planer, all of which have seen little use (I work mostly with hand tools). The finished size of the workbench will be about 84 x 28 x 2.
Which machine should I use first? How can I keep the original warp in the studs from interfering in the surfacing? If marking is indicated, (say, for the bandsaw)which marks should I go with? I thought about an accessory to the table saw, 'joint'r clamps', but I would need a straight 8-ft piece of wood to begin with, right?
Can anybody help me out? Thanks in advance.
Kin
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Kin, check out this link. They did what you are talking about without any power tools:
http://www.terraclavis.com/bws/beginners.htm
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Kin, I just finished my first bench last month. The article cited is very good, and was similar to some plans I got at Rockler. But rather than dealing with gluing the 2x4's for the top, I bought a ready made top from Grizzly and used the 2x4's I bought for the base.
Built upside down on saw horses, I was able to mount the vices easily, and as long as I cut the legs the same length, when I set them on the underside of the top, they worked out just perfect. I screwed the base to the top with 3 inch wood screws, and carpenters glue. And I used glue and wood screws to construct the base.
Very simple, very strong.
After I turned it over, it didn't wobble, creak, or move. Solid as a rock. Then I drilled a load of holes, 3/4" dia all the way down the bench from the end vise, 6" apart, and the same across the bench for the other vise. I did have to measure carefully to miss the vise. Since I didn't have a better way, I made a jig on the drill press to bore at a right angle on the bench, didn't want the hoiles at an angle when I drilled them by hand.
Soon as I get that new table saw for Christmas, I'll make cabinets or shelves/drawers for the area below the top. Hope this helps a little.
Regards,
Rich......
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I shuddered when you said you glued the top to the base. That's not a good idea because of wood movement.
Bob
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On 20 Oct 2005 13:07:42 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@netzero.com scribbled:

I made mine out of 2X6 doug fir ripped in half.
First step is to get one flat face. That's what a jointer is for. If they wobble too much on the jointer table, take off the high spots with a hand plane. Alternatively, you could flatten using the planer if you made a cradle, and support the wobbly pieces wood with shims. Take light cuts.
Then through the planer to flatten the other face. Table saw should work to remove the rounded corners and to straighten if they're not too bowed. If you want square dogholes, you could cut dadoes with the table saw on three of the 2X4s (assuming you want three rows of dogholes.
Then glue up. I used pipe clamps and battens across the width held with F-clamps to keep the top more or less aligned. You could also use biscuits. Then flatten with hand planes as the glue-up will probably be too big for the planer. Alternatively, do three glue-ups, flatten each in the planer, and then glue the three together.
Luigi Replace "nonet" with "yukonomics" for real email address www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/humour.html www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/antifaq.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Woodworking
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Basically echoing Luigi here: this is the order of operation that you want to use:
1. Crosscut to 84.5" (smaller piece are easier to handle and require less stock removal to true up). 2. Face joint (one flat face) 3. Edge joint (another flat face at 90 degrees and get rid of that 2x4 radius edge) 4. Rip to 3 - 1/8 (two edges parallel) 5. Thickness plane individual boards... there is not reason to make them all the same thickness, take off as much material as you have to (to make the surface flat) but no more 5.5. Make dog hole dados now if you want them. 6. Glue up 4 subassemblies about 7" x 3". I think that this will be about as much as you want to try to manipulate. Smaller if you must, bigger if you dare. 7. Run the subassemblies back through the planer to clean up the joints 8. Run both "edges" of the subassemblies through the jointer just to make sure you still have a square edge. If you don't, your final glue-up to the top will have a big honk'n cup that will take a long time to remove with a hand plane 9. Glue together your subs 10. "touch up" with a hand plane :-). I smile because when I did this on a nearly similar-sized maple top I "declared victory" after 4 hours.
BTW this will yield a roughly 3" thick top. More is better. Starting with 2x4's you would simply be throwing it away otherwise.
I hope that jointer is a not a benchtop.... pieces of this length and subs of that weight kind of require a floor model. Also 84" is a pretty long bench. IME it is considerably easier to true up 6' stock than 7' stock. That is the difficulty/waste associated with truing stock increases exponentially, not proportionally with length. Scaling back the length a bit *will* make your life easier.
-Steve
scribbled:

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Hi guys, Thanks so much for your quick and detailed response. I saw the link mentioned, but they don't mention much in the way of surfacing:
"Just to make sure you don't have a problem with twist. This is a good time to do a loose fit. Can you put the boards together without much of a gap? You should be able to close any gap with just hand pressure. If you can't you should replace the crooked boards with straighter ones - even if they are cosmetically inferior. "
Since some of the studs have more than 1/2" of warp to them, I'd rather not just glue them up, leaving too much tension in the finished bench.
From your answers so far, I guess making a jig for the hand planer might be one solution (I cringe at the thought of hand planing the stud faces, since they have quite a few knots to them). I'll also run some stud faces through the jointer (floor model), but it'll take quite a few passes, given their warp. Here in the East Coast, we don't get the cream of the DF studs. I'll compare the results of the 2 methods and go from there. It is tempting to leave the thickness at 3", but among other reasons, SWMBO and I couldn't lift the darn thing for assembly.
Kin
p.s. Does the band saw have any role in this project? When would it?
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snipped-for-privacy@netzero.com wrote:

...
If you can clamp them up w/o having to really torque them down, a tubafore is (even DF) is limber enough I don't think you'll have any significant problem as long as the surfaces mate well. It's much easier to bring the ends in than the middle, so I'd do it one or two at a time and build it up gradually that way rather than trying to do the whole thing at once.
If you were really concerned, you could bore through as you go and put a threaded rod through although I really don't think it necessary.
For construction, I've been able to take 2x material and face joint it enough to get a smooth enough surface for gluing simply by pushing down hard enough to take most of the bow out. Leaves a nice surface for finishing when nailed or glued in place. Similarly, all you really need is a well-enough finished surface to be an acceptable gluing surface (again assuming the bow is just a gentle bow and can be sprung reasonabley easily--really sharp bows or twists wouldn't work so well).
imo, ymmv, fwiw, my $0.02, etc., .... :)
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A suggestion I have read more than once (although I haven't tried it yet) is to make up your bench completely, legs and all, just short of adding any hardware to the top (e.g., vises and bench stops). Hardware requires that the bench top be pretty close to finished.
At any rate, get the bench assembled, with the feet all flat on the floor, then clamp two very straight boards to the long sides of the benchtop. These are to be guides for a router. Thus, they should be firmly clamped, straight, smooth along the top edges to allow sliding, and clamped so that they won't flex in use. Make sure that these boards are leveled very carefully. It's worth the time to make sure that the top edges of the planks lie in the same plane and are level. If they are not you will wind up with a bench top that is twisted or unevenly thick and thin. Also,
Use the planks as guides for a sled for your router. This sled must allow the router to slide the width of the benchtop and must allow a straight bit to reach deep enough into the surface of the bench top to flatten the entire surface.
Now, just rout the top of the bench (lots of passes, you bet!). If you are very careful you shouldn't have to do much, if any, finishing, but if you care and the top is a little raggedy, you can grab your scraper or smoothing plane to clean it off.
I would suggest NOT putting any kind of finish on it, or if you must, then apply the same finish top and bottom to make sure the moisture content remains even throughout the top to avoid warping.
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BS can be handy for tenons on the end of long stock.
-John
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Hi guys, Thanks to all who replied to my question. I'll post an update when the bench is done.
Kin
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