Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Benchmaker's Apprentice: The End

Today I started by putting some finishing touches on the leg vise chop.

I also finished up the tail vise sliding dog block.

Also, because the front apron drops down farther than the bench top, I cut this for a little modern flare, but it's just a 45*, so not too modern.

Now I started working on the cleats that hold the shelf.

The barrel nut meets the shelf cleat, preventing the cleat from fitting in its groove completely. We'll have to remedy that, won't we.

Perfect fit.

Now, after finishing the shelf pieces themselves, the two edge pieces must be cut to fit. The shelf boards are shiplapped on their long edges.

Another perfect fit! Man, this day is going great! Until...

At this point, this is what the dogs look like. To get the spring working, we need to make an angled cut at the bottom of the piece.

I made a quick jig to cut the angle on the dogs.

Now we need to make that springy piece thinner. Now, you might want to use a hand plane, but here at Benchcrafted, we don't believe in simplicity. It's sort of like magic. Every magic trick appears to be simple, but in actuality, it is quite complex(or is it the other way around?). Anyway, we developed a magic trick of our own while building this bench. Everything in your head will be saying that this was a mistake, but it was in every way intentional (and copyrighted).

Anyway, you might want to take a lighter cut when using this method.

Here is the jig we routed quickly to do this. It works, let's say, iffy. I wouldn't recommend doing this.

From there, I glued up the dogs.

And then added screws for added strength.

Then I drilled for the big Spax lags and attached the tops.

Now it's time to flatten the top.

I make a chamfer to minimize blowout because it's faster to plane across the grain on this.

I also file the dog holes.

It took a while, but I got it pretty flat.

Well, there you have it. That was the Benchmaker's Apprentice, and that is a Benchcrafted Split-Top Roubo Bench. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and details and my rambling about stuff I don't know anything about. Thanks for listening, and stay tuned, because in the near future (as in sometime in the next few weeks) we will be posting pictures of this thing because, as you may recall, she's getting painted. And if you want even more, you might get to see the Benchmaker's Apprentice Bench in St. Louis at the upcoming Lie Nielsen event. So stay tuned for news on that, also.

Thanks again!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Building Schwarz's 18th c. Roubo With Our Vises?

A few months ago we began getting orders for vises from students enrolled at Kelly Mehler's School of Woodworking. Author Chris Schwarz is teaching a class in May on building his Roubo bench featured in the August 2010 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. The benches will be built with massive timbers, and in order to help make the vise installation quick and efficient, we developed a sequence for installing our tail vise for the students who have just 6 days to build the bench.

The installation differs from the sequence outlined in our installation instructions in that there is no dog hole strip (the bench uses round holes drilled into the finished top) and no front laminate. This sequence can be applied to other top construction methods as well. Instead of building up the top around the vise (typical install), material is removed from the benchtop to receive the vise. Using massive 5x5 timbers the entire installation can virtually take place in the first laminate before assembling the rest of the top.

For those who are planning to build this excellent bench with the Benchcrafted Tail Vise, we're making these materials freely available. We have a Sketchup drawing (with animated scenes) showing the sequence as well as some 2d templates that help explain the install. These templates will be available for free download once our new website is updated (coming soon). In the meantime if you'd like to have them, send an email and you'll get a reply with the materials.

Update: Download the files here:
Sketchup Drawing
Overall View (End Template)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lead Times Update

Just a quick update on lead times. We're still waiting on some deliveries from our supplier who is behind, but as of last Friday they are on schedule. We're producing other components while we wait, so filling orders once these overdue components arrive should be fairly quick. We greatly appreciate you bearing with it during this delay. We're not much for economic prognostication, but the silver lining here is that our supplier that's behind is getting lots of new work.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Benchmaker's Apprentice: End Cap, Tail Vise, and Glueing

Here we are again, and today we are covering ALOT of stuff. I'm starting with the end cap. Above, you can see that I milled this piece of ash to roughly the size of the final piece.

Now I simply routed out this groove in the bench top...

And then routed a similar one in the cap.

Then I made a spline to tie it all together.

This tongue and groove doesn't really have any structural advantages, it simply aligns the cap for gluing. The bolts are what really hold this thing on.

I decided to use barrel nuts for this since they are easier to install. Although you probably won't be taking the cap off once it is glued on, the convenience is still there and it looks nice too!

Now I'm ready to route for the tail vise. I am removing lots of material here so I'm going to take it slow, only taking less than a quarter inch of material for each pass.

This clamp conveniently serves as a stop so I don't route to far into the top.

A nice fit. Now, to finish installing the tail vise, we need to glue on our dog hole laminate.

I start by hammering small brad nails into the front edge of bench, then clipping them off right at the surface. This keeps the pieces from slipping around on the glue.

This is not product placement.

Nor is this a Nature Valley granola bar commercial.

Nice and clean after some [Skraper]ing.

After the laminate was installed, I simply routed down about 1/4" for the rails of the vise.

As you can see here, because the bench top is a little thinner than what is called for, I had to elevate the inside rail with a shim, but it wasn't a problem.

At this point, I decided to glue on the last front laminate for the front top. It's 4" thick, unlike the rest of the top, which is around 3". This required a little aligning to be done right so I finished the legs so that we could drop the tops on and do some awesome aligning.

I also attached the short cross beams to the legs these are permanent so I took my pegs and glued them in, never to be removed.

Well, the top seems to fit the base nicely.

Since the front laminate drops down farther than the tops themselves, I had to take the handy Festool and make that notch up there. Now the laminate has some personal space.

To finish up the day, I did some work on the leg vise chop. I cut an angle into the bottom half so it's not so "square".

And then I also attached the parallel guide to the chop with pegs.