I am a new woodworker, who is building a maple workbench. Since I still
stink at surfacing wood using a hand plane, I was wondering if its possible
to smooth/surface it with a router, or if there is some other means for
Or maybe I should get off my butt and learn to use the planes. I am worried
about ruining the block surface since I am a still a hack.
Thanks very much-
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> I am a new woodworker, who is building a maple workbench. Since I
> stink at surfacing wood using a hand plane, I was wondering if its
> to smooth/surface it with a router, or if there is some other means
> doing it.
Yes, if you build the proper jigs, you could surface it with a router.
You could also use a belt sander.
This job begs for a fairing batten using a 3/4"x3/4"x1/16"x96"
You rub the back of the angle across the surface.
Aluminum oxide from the angle will mark the high spots that then get
Repeat process a couple of hundred times and you will be ready for a
When your arms feel like they are going to fall off, your top is flat
Using the above hand methods, you can easily get within 0.010" of
Having done the above once on a boat, never again.
I'd take the top to a contract drum sander.
An hour of your time, $25-$40 of your money, and you are done.
Thanks very much for the replies. Ironically I tried Google and got
nothing. I think a simpler approach with Google would have been better!
I may try the router sled, but a big bench will probably take a LONG time.
I like the idea of taking to an industrial woodworker.
It's not that time consuming. Certainly quicker than finding a shop,
loading it, traveling, waiting for it and taking it home again. I've
used a long, flat baseplate on the router that just rides a simple pair
of rails tacked to the side of the butcher block or bench a bunch and
it works really well, really quickly. The sled is fancy, but sometimes
KISS works too.
Tell you what-
I was pretty poor with a handplane until I built my bench, too. It
took some sweat and a bit of determination, but by the time I was
done, I had sore elbows, but a nice flat bench and a good appreciation
for what a plane could do and some knowledge about how to use one. No
better way to learn it- you don't want to mess up project wood, right?
Now if you don't care to use a hand plane for anything, that's another
story. But if you intend to learn, the bench top is a good place to
start. If you've gotta take the workbench out for special help
elsewhere, how are you going to make anything else?
Have you already constructed the bench, if so how wide is it?
My maple bowling alley bench is about 3' x 7' and I glued it up in 3
sections. I hauled the sections to a shop that had a 24" belt sander,
and had them sand the tops flush and the bottom so everything was
relatively flat, meaning there were pieces shallower than the surface,
but nothing protruding. I think it cost me maybe $35 or so.
Once I got it home, assembled into the bench, and belt sanded the heck
out of it to remove the course grit marks from the surface. Would do
it again if I did it again.
Just tossing out a suggestion...
People do use a router. But I don't think it is the fastest way.
My guess is your hand plane is not yet sharp sharp sharp. If you do
use a hand plane, learn how to set it up and sharpen it properly.
Google for "tune hand plane" and I think you will get some info.
If you haven't learned to sharpen your plane blades and chisels, you
will need to do that anyway. You can get started with "scary sharp"
and sandpaper (Google scary sharp). Or, invest in some waterstones.
Once you have the plane set up and the blade sharp it will surprise
you how well it will work.
You could also read up on winding sticks and how to use them. There
are writeups online for how to flatten with a surface.
Bell sander is a good idea. However, it takes some skill to do a good
surface finish on a large area. As you know you have to continuously be on
the move at a steady speed to remove the same amount of material.
At about $2.00 to $4.00 per sanding belt or more the total material cost
could well be over $10.00.
With maple the table top has to be well cured before and after it has been
glued. If you can get the table top surface planed by a local commercial
wood shop for about $30.00 the difference in total cost would be just a
little more. You can always practice with the hand plane (without pressure)
after your bench is completed. A good way to practice is to spit and square
oak with traditional toll for a starter.
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