As I was handling the 2x4's, during the routing, I realized that I really wouldn't be happy with the look of the bench, if it were made from these unfinished boards. They had stamps, pencil marks, and more importantly, incipient splinters left by the saw, none of which I wanted. And I was remembering what other shop furniture made from unfinished pine had looked like, after a few years in the grime of a shop.
First, we need to drill out the holes for the screws that will hold them together. While the two layers of MDF are glued, the countertop and the MDF will only be screwed. The oak countertop, like any natural wood product, will expand and contract with humidity changes. If it were glued to the MDF, the difference in expansion of the two layers would cause the countertop to buckle and curl.
Be careful. Single 24x60" sheets of 3/4" MDF are pretty easy to lift. A doubled sheet is manageable. The countertop - 24x72" panel of 1-1/2" oak - weighs something over 100 pounds. It takes real care to lift safely. The joined top - 3" thick of oak and MDF - is past the range that can be lifted safely by one person. Don't try. Get a friend to help, or rig a block-and-tackle.
But I still wasn’t entirely satisfied with our list. I wondered if we’d read enough woodworking books as a staff to create a solid list. So we surveyed the readers of my blog (the results of that are on our web site), then asked many of the woodworkers who write for us to contribute lists of their favorite woodworking books. Theirs are below, in their own words (publishers have listed only on first reference; but if no publisher has been noted, the book is available on Google Books at books.google.com).
If you bought this superb polished table in a store, it would cost you a fortune, but our detailed instructions will help you make one for less than $100. And it looks like highly polished stone, but no-one would know it’s actually made from concrete with a wooden base. Also, you can embellish the top with leaf prints, like the table shown here, or personalize it with glass or mosaic tiles or imprints of seashells.
I ended up making a number of practice cuts. The first revealed that I hadn't tightened the screws on the edge guide enough. The second revealed that the design of the edge guide provided very little support at the end of a board, because of the cut-out for the router bit. In the "Getting Started in Woodworking" video, they had screwed a piece of hardwood to the edge-guide, to provide a continuous -- and longer -- bearing surface. I may do that myself, some day, but I didn't have the materials at hand, so I clamped some 2x4 scrap to the end of each board, to provide a continuous bearing surface past the ends. The two grooves in the long stretchers and the side groove in the short stretchers have identical layout. I made practice cuts in scrap until I had the edge guide set correctly, then I cut them all with that one setting. The bottom groove of the short stretchers uses a different setup, so it was back to the scrap, before cutting them.
I know, if you had a workbench, you wouldn't be building a workbench. Even so, you'll need some sort of work surface, even if it isn't as stable or capable as a proper bench. The traditional solution is to throw a hollow-core door over a couple of saw horses. The advantage of hollow core doors is that they're flat, stiff, and cheap. I used a folding table and a hollow core door I had bought for a future project.
The reason I'd cut out the rectangles in the vise support was that I'd intended to put a benchdog hole through each, and I wanted the thickness of the top to be the same for all of the benchdog holes. Where I messed up was in not cutting out the ends, between the bolt tabs. I'd intended to put a benchdog hole through there, as well, but I'd forgotten to cut out the segments prior to glue0up.
To corral shelf-dwelling books or DVDs that like to wander, cut 3/4-in.-thick hardwood pieces into 6-in. x 6-in. squares. Use a band saw or jigsaw to cut a slot along one edge (with the grain) that’s a smidgen wider than the shelf thickness. Stop the notch 3/4 in. from the other edge. Finish the bookend and slide it on the shelf. Want to build the shelves, too? We’ve got complete plans for great-looking shelves here.
I'd decided on an oil-and-wax finish. Oil finishes are by no means the toughest. In fact, they're really rather pathetic, so far as protecting the wood goes. But they're easy to apply, and not even the toughest finish will stand up to the abuse that a workbench will suffer, so it's more important that it be easy to repair. Wax is usually used to add a high gloss. On a bench, it's there to keep glue from sticking.
The Rockler Woodworking and Hardware free catalog features over 140 pages of our best products mailed directly to your door. You should receive your catalog in 1 to 2 weeks, depending on your location. In the meantime, you'll find all of the products in our catalogs here on our website. Just choose one of the department links on your left, or enter a keyword search.
If you're using drywall screws, you'll want to countersink the holes. Drywall screws are flat-head, and need a countersink to seat solidly. If you're using Kreg pocket screws, the way I did, you won't want to counter-sink the holes. Kreg screws are pan-head, and seat just fine against a flat surface. Both drywall screws and Kreg pocket screws are self-threading, so you don't need pilot holes in the second sheet of MDF.
I’ve built workbenches with more than 100 students. In every class, there’s one guy who wants to put a vise on every corner of the bench. Not because it’s a partner’s bench for two people. Just because he wants it that way. While I support your freedom to choose, I also don’t want to spend two weeks installing complex tail-vise hardware on your bench when we could be building furniture instead.
This bench suffers from no such limitations as it provides an incredibly solid and stable workspace, albeit in a somewhat stripped down version. In terms of performance, Sjobergs tops our list at providing 80 lbs of weight capacity. This is one of the more quantifiable measurements to determine the quality of a work bench’s craftsmanship. This is achieved by using thick pieces of European birch wood and working it without using lower end joints – like butt joints.