Saturday, November 22, 2014

My next bench will have an apron

I haven't written anything here in quite a while, but I haven't been completely out of the workshop.  I built a frame, which I'll write about sometime soon, practiced M&T joints (which make me want a G&T, but that's another issue...), and built some frame-and-panel cabinet doors for a friend.

That last one prompted this post.

Some of you will have read the post about my bench, and how I built it.  Well, when I built it, I really didn't have a good bench, so I didn't have a lot of experience with the process of actually, you know, using a tool bench, especially for hand-tool intensive work.  Over the past few years I've built some little boxes, a tool chest, a picture frame, and a few other small things.  Well, these cabinet doors are 52" long, which means they're 4" longer than the bench.  That's mostly fine.  Trimming them to length was fine, shooting them was easy, smoothing wasn't an issue.  And then I needed to groove them to take the panel.  I ran into two problems.

First, they're too long to work on on the benchtop.  Normally, I'd use a holdfast to clamp down a batten, bring up the planing stop at the end, and work away.  These are made of 1x2 dimensional lumber, so balancing them isn't an issue, and I've done it before.  But these are longer than the bench, and I just don't have the room to work on a piece that long.  That's fine, that's why I have a vise.

The second problem is that they're only 1 3/4" high.  I can clamp them in the vise, but they're long enough to flex when I start trying to use a combination plane on them.  So I spent 15 minutes drilling holes in the front edge of my bench.  It's about 3" thick, so there's plenty of space, but after the first inch and a half it's drilling into the edge of plywood.  I wound up being able to do the work, but it was a challenge.

This was my test set up, confirming that support from the bottom would be sufficient:


I basically just put two long clamps from the front to the back, and propped the wood on those.  It worked, but the edges of the clamps are thin, and it looked like it would damage the wood.  I could have just clamped blocks to the front of the bench, I suppose, but that's a one-time solution that will take time to repeat.  Nonsense.  Here's what I wound up with.



Sorry about the color balance on that last one:  all the photos were taken with my phone, but that one caught the light weirdly.

Anyway, you can see what I did:  drilled some holes, then more-or-less rounded the ends of some blocks, and padded them with 1/8" scrap to move the board up some.

In the end, it worked, but it would have been a lot easier if I had an apron with holes pre-drilled in it, so I could just clamp a support board on.  So that goes on the list for the next bench.