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The edges of MDF are fragile, easily crushed or torn. MDF is also notorious for absorbing water through these edges, causing the panels to swell. In Sam Allen's original design, he edged the MDF with 1/4" hardboard. This edging is one of the complexities that Asa Christiana left out in his simplified design. I think this was a mistake. MDF really needs some sort of protection, especially on the edges.
Shape is critical to the ultimate success or failure of a piece of furniture. Knowing this, custom-furniture maker Lonnie Bird has taken the complex subject of shaping and in this book made it accessible to every woodworker. He guides the reader toward first visualizing, then drawing a shape, and then choosing the appropriate tool for creating it. Shaping techniques of all kinds are covered here — from the simplest ones to more complex bending and carving.”
I made a template by scribing two adjoining squares on a piece of MDF, using compass and straightedge, then marking each corner with a centerpunch, then drilling the points with a 1/16" bit. I find I'm always breaking small bits, so I picked up a couple of each size some months ago, and on looking I found I had three 1/16" bits, which worked fine for what I intended.
Remember those fire safety tips you used to get in grade school, about the dangers of oily rags? It was linseed oil they were talking about. All oily rags are dangerously flammable. Linseed oil will self-combust. Linseed oil doesn't evaporate, it oxidizes. The oxidization generates heat, and the increased temperature increases the rate of oxidation.
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.
For those who would like to have the benefit of a woodworker’s extensive experience with hand tools, this is the book to own. Crammed with practical information, it is the next best thing to looking over a craftsman’s shoulder as he works with his tools, asking questions and getting straight answers in plain language, seeing how each tool is held and manipulated to get the best work out of it. From bit brace, chisel, and mallet to saws, specialized planes, drawknife, and spokeshave, Aldren Watson describes in detail the actions of the tools basic to good woodworking. All the procedures are explicitly illustrated with handsome line drawings, and an appendix gives plans and dimensions for making a workbench and other necessary pieces of shop equipment.”
Before you start cutting or drilling the pieces that will make up the top, determine the layout of the top. This should include the dimensions of the MDF, the dimensions of the edging, the locations of the vises, and of the screws or bolts that will support the vises, and of all of the benchdog holes and of all of the drywall screws you will use to laminate the panels,
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.
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