Step 17: The Top, Interlude - Fixing a Mistake

When gluing the oak edges on the MDF, I made a mistake. On the back side, the edging was positioned too low, which would leave a noticeable gap when the MDF and the countertop were joined. I was determined to fix it.

Either of the strips I'd ripped from the oak countertop to remove the factory bevel looked like it would work, if I could figure out how to rip them safely with a circular saw.

I ended up using a couple of strips of MDF and a bar clamp to create a clamp that would hold the strip of oak, and had a profile low enough to fit under the cutting guide.

Once I had the strip cut, I glued it in place, and clamped everything up.

I'd intentionally made it oversize, intending to trim it flush. Trimming is a little more complicated than usual, because I needed to trim it flush on two faces. The end face extended a good 3/8", so I cut off most of the excess with a circular saw and the edge guide, then flipped the edge guide upside down to make a stable platform for the router. Aside from the use of the edge guide, flush trimming the edge face was unremarkable.

For trimming the top face, I again stood the panel vertically, with the router base riding on the top edge, and the bit cutting on the far side of the panel. Because I was cutting on the back edge of the work piece, I needed to move the router from right to left. And here I ran into another problem.

The gap in the edging that I was filling was not of even depth. On the left end it was about 3/16" deep, on the right end the edging was flush with the MDF, and there was no gap. That means that on the right side, I was routing away all of the strip I had glued in. The result was significant tear-out.

I did what I always do when faced with this sort of gumption trap - I turned off the router, set it down, and walked away for a bit. I've found that whatever action I take in the frustration of dealing with something that hadn't worked right is almost always the wrong one, and usually makes things worse.

What I did, when I came back, was to clamp down the strip where it had torn away, and then to start routing from the other end. I still moved the router from right to left, but I did it in six-inch sections, taking light passes, and sort of whittled the strip flush. As the sections I was working were farther to the right, the strip was thinner. Eventually I came to where I was trimming the strip away entirely, at which point I took off the clamps and the remainder fell away.

A better solution would have been to route a rabbet into the side, so that the added strip always had thickness. The way I did it means that the strip I glued in is very narrow, and hence very weak, at a certain point. In this case, that's not a problem, because it's going to be sitting under the countertop layer. I also noticed that because I had only clamped the strip down, and not into the edge, there was a noticeable glue gap where the strip butted up against the MDF. Again, in this application it isn't visible. But if I was doing something like this on the top of a table, I'd make sure to cut a clean rabbet, and to clamp both down and in.
Where do I go to get dimensional lumber planned and sanded as you suggest. Does HD or Lowe's offer this?
<p>You can get it at the big box places but you may need to plane and sand a bit. </p>
<p>HD in my area doesn't sell kiln dried 4x4...i got them at lowes though</p>
That's a sweet bench! Does everything you need doin'.
<p>Great tutorial <a href="https://www.instructables.com/member/jdege/" rel="nofollow">jdege!!</a></p>
<p>Hi, I've added your project to the <em style="">&quot;Make Your Own Workbench!</em><em style="">&quot;</em> Collection</p><p>This is the link If you are interested:</p><p><a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-Workbench-For-the-Workshop/">https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-Work...</a></p>
<p>Thank you for the excellent instructable. I had a little extra funds and short on time so I skipped the edging and went with two ikea beech countertops. Vise jaws were old oak stair treads doubled up. Two coats of natural Danish oil. I am pretty happy with it, can't wait to start on some projects.</p><p>Lessons learned: Watch out for knots! Also countertop seems a bit thinner at the front and back not great for using the entire depth. Next time I would go with the 2&quot; prefinished hardwood workbench top they sell at lee valley. Same price, not quite as thick though, and they don't deliver. They also just added a nice bushing/bit set for making your own jig to drill the holes. I will probably move the flip down casters to the outside of the leg and higher up they don't get enough leverage to lift the table easily where they are. Also bolt through the leg don't use the little screws they give you.<br><br>I make a sketchup file for the workbench here: </p><p><a href="https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model.html?id=ufc9f7839-a28b-47a0-b8a7-51fd47c02377" rel="nofollow">https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model.html?id=ufc9f7839-a28b-47a0-b8a7-51fd47c02377</a></p>
Looks amazing. I'd like to go for a solid hardwood top too. How did you laminate the two pieces of beech? Glue, screws, both? If you used screws, did you pre-drill larger holes on the bottom slab to allow for movement? Or is this defeated by the glue? Thanks!
<p>I lined up the top and bottom pieces, and drilled the holes using an upcut spiral bit on my router before gluing. It wasn't long enough to go all the way through the second layer so I had to take a second pass to finish up the holes on the bottom. Then I used dowels in the holes to perfectly line up the pieces and used bolts with big washers through the holes to clamp them together while gluing, then routed the edges flush. Make sure if the counters are bowed you want the gap in the middle not the edges. One problem I had is the counters are tapered at the edges and I only took 1/8&quot; off which was not enough so I wound up with a little gap I had to fill with glue before routing the edges. I used yellow glue so it matches pretty good and looks like it's supposed to be there.</p>
<p>Has anyone tried using a vacuum bag and a vacuum pump, like they use in autoclaves, to use air pressure to an advantage in gluing multiple layers into one top? The general idea is to use the pressure of the atmosphere to your advantage. Put a soft blanket on a flat floor (to avoid tearing plastic), then a large sheet of thick plastic, large enough to fold over and encapsulate the whole table top in plastic. Place your first laminate layer down, add adhesive, then the second layer (continuing as many layers as you want.) Position the layers exactly as you want them, close the plastic over it, tape all openings, then use an automotive vacuum pump to draw out all the air inside the bag. The weight/pressure of the atmosphere would then provide 22,464 pounds of clamping pressure on a 72&quot;x24&quot; top, just as strong in the middle, as on the edges. For multiple layers, use an adhesive with longer working time, or take it in multiple steps. It works in aerospace, but is no more complicated than my wife's vacuum food saver. Vast clamping pressure. Automotive stores rent the pumps out. They are engineered to hold zero pressure for extended periods. </p>
<p>Thanks, very helpful. Nice tip with the dowels and bolts. I was worrying about the two slabs contracting/expanding independently, but I guess that by gluing the two slabs any width-ways expansion will happen as a single block of wood. And that can be accommodated by the slight play in the table-top S fasteners.</p>
<p>You could also band the edges like the original plan and avoid the problem entirely but I was being lazy it seemed like a lot of extra work for just a workbench.</p>
<p>Thanks for the instructions.. I made a slightly modified version of this today. Because the nature of the poplar top I used, I plan on Epoxying it for added durability. I haven't added a end vise yet.. maybe someday. I made a <a href="https://goo.gl/photos/ranvcpky8Qo4GiAA9" rel="nofollow">6 minute time lapse</a> from 6 hours of video. Thanks again!</p>
<p>Is Edge Glue Oak&quot; the same as counters made of individual small oak blocks? If so, would beech be as good? It's a bit cheaper.</p>
What you want is a dense hardwood with closed pores. Oak isn't ideal because it's pores are too open. Maple is the usual choice in the U.S., beech is the more common choice in Europe.<br><br>So yes, beech would be fine. Would probably work better than oak. The third choice from Ikea is birch, which is far too soft.
<p>Thankyou. Am I correct in assuming &quot;Edge Glued Oak&quot; is the same as counters made of individual small oak (or beech) blocks glued together?</p>
<p><a href="http://community.woodmagazine.com/t5/General-Woodworking/Edge-grain-vs-face-grain/td-p/272662">http://community.woodmagazine.com/t5/General-Woodw...</a></p>
This may be a silly question or something no one has thought of but I need to ask...I am left handed and use most of my tools left handed. Would you recommend building it in a &quot;mirror&quot; fashion?
Absolutely. And it's not a silly question. Most left-handed woodworkers set their vises up reversed - tail vise on the left and face vise on the right.
<p>Hi Jdege,</p><p>How does a front vice differs from an end vice : In Mechanism or In Size ?</p><p> Regards,</p><p>Ritesh</p>
<p>The only difference between the two vice mechanisms is the distance between the screws. The end vice has them placed farther apart.</p>
<p>Thanks!</p><p> Gr8 help!</p><p>However, I am finding it tough to get them india..may be I have to wait.</p>
This is professional works ! Thank you Jdege ! Please do one foe me... ^~^
<p>Hi Jdege,</p><p>I don't see anywhere you mentioned the over all length of the bench top. A piece of 1 1/2&quot; x 25&quot; x 8' glued edge oak at Lumber Liquidators costs $192 including tax. Two piece is almost $400! Would that be better if I use two IKEA 1 1/4&quot; x 25&quot; x 74&quot; solid Beech ($99 each plus tax) on top of a layer of 3/4&quot; Birch plywood. That would be 3 1/4&quot; over all. </p>
<p>I was at IKEA in Philadelphia today. There is no 1 1/2&quot; glued edge beech counter top. They only have either 1 1/8&quot; solid wood or 1 1/2&quot; beech over particleboard.</p>
Yep. They discontinued it a year or so ago.<br><br>Try Lumber Liquidators. They sell butcher block countertop, and might have a store close enough that you could avoid shipping.
<p>This makes me want to buy a house just so I can build a workbench!!! </p>
<p>Hey Jdege!</p><p>Greetings from India!</p><p>Thanks for your detailed work description, they are very helpful. Can you please help me with the dimensions of the vices(jaw width and jaw openings) or post their model numbers!</p><p>P.S : I am brand new to woodworking, but surly build this workbench</p><p>Regards,</p><p>Ritesh</p>
I used Rockler's quick release front vise and end vise. There are links in the I'ble.<br><br>I'd suggest that you have the vices in hand before you start, rather than trying to fit by measurements.
<p>Almost complete with mine, will post a photo when I've had a chance to apply some finish to it. I have to say that I've never worked with MDF before, and I hope to never again for a similar application. In retrospect, it would have been work the money to just buy hardwood to avoid the stress.</p><p>I'll share the vise that I'm using since I'm not sure anyone else has pointed it out (http://www.amazon.com/Woodstock-D4026-Cabinet-Makers-Vise/dp/B005W16LVE/ref=sr_1_5?s=hi&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1426440611&amp;sr=1-5&amp;keywords=woodworking+vise+for+workbench) for ~70 buck you get an awesome vise, well-machines, that you just have to add lag bolts/ #12 screws, and a dowel to and it's functional. I'm using it for the front vise, but I think it would be viable on the end too with a large wooden jaw.;</p>
The plans I was working from used MDF for the top. I would not, even as a later under hardwood, if I were to make this again. I'd double up on counter top, or by a purpose made bench top. (Ikea has discontinued the countertop I'd used. The replacement is hardwood over particle board, which I don't think is suitable for a kitchen, let alone a workbench.)
How much did it cost you overall? As like an estimate?
Didn't really keep track. The vises were somewhere around $200 each, the countertop was about the same. The rest of the lumber and hardware was under $100.
<p>Question: I'm new to this and thinking about tackling the project: did you consider using two dowel centers at the same time when marking the legs rather than one in each position, one at a time - did you have a reason to avoid doing it that way?</p>
Asa Christiana's design only had one dowel for each stretcher. I had started out that way, when I found Sam Allen's book, which used two. I thought that was a good idea, and went back and added the second.<br> <br> I don't see any reason why marking both holes at the same time wouldn't work.
<p>Any specific reason to make the end vise area flush with the base dimensions other than additional stability for the end vise?</p><p>In Asa's workbench, although he doesn't use an end vise that end extend 2-4&quot; from the base legs.</p><p>I plan to add an End vise in the future, but not right away. Just trying to figure out if I keep the 2-4&quot; overhang on that side if I'm setting myself up for worse end vise solution when the time comes.</p>
I never really considered doing anything else. Most of the end vises I've seen were full-width. What I was thinking, when I decided to add the end vise, was how useful it would be to be able to clamp large panels with the bench dogs. And for that, you want to have bench dog holes that are widely separated. <br><br>When I'm just clamping something, I use the front vice more often than the end. The end vise I more often use with the bench doGs.
<p>Appreciate the effort on the post. With reference to the Sam Allen tabletop design (3 sheets MDF and hardboard), what's the best approach to laminate all the layers? </p><p>Should you screw &amp; glue through 3 layers of MDF from the bottom up, then screw the hardboard from the top? Or is there a better route?</p>
I'd screw through the third layer into the two. I can see no advantage to screwing through twice as much material.
If I had a vacuum press, I'd just glue and press. Since I don't, I'd glue and screw two layers together, then remove the screws and glue and screw the third. I'd not fasten the hardboard at all, I'd just hold it in place with edge banding<br><br>Clamp a slightly oversized piece of hardboard to the top, then route the edge so it's a perfect fit. Then screw strip of hardboard around the edges, so that they are slightly proud, then route them flush. The hardboard top should be sufficiently secure, just sitting loose, constrained by the edge banding.<br><br>I'm in the process of constructing an assembly table that will use this technique to build a sacrificial hardboard top. I'll have an I'ble posted in a couple of weeks.
<p>Thanks for walking through the 3 layer lamination idea. I had planned to go 3 layer with the floating hardboard and oak for the edgebanding - so you helped to confirm that. </p><p>So, after the initial 2-layer glue and screw, do you then screw again through the 2 layers (now one) into the 3rd with glue. Or, just glue the 2 layers part into the 3rd and call it a day?</p>
<p>I just pulled out my copy of Sam Allen's book (<a rel="nofollow">http://www.amazon.com/Making-Workbenches-Planning-...</a></p><p>In it, he suggests using nails to provide clamping pressure between the layers of MDF, and using contact cement to hold the hardboard top in place.</p>
<p>Sorry, just noticed that link was to a newer book. The Sam Allen book I have, that contains the plans that inspired Asa's, that inspired mine, was: </p><p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1561585947/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_1?pf_rd_p=1944687462&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1402741936&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1Q9N2NSH51KKMA9NQEHT" rel="nofollow">http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1561585947/ref=pd...</a></p><p>The older book was from 2004, the newer from 2008. I don't know whether the later book includes plans for the same workbench as the old.</p>
Thanks so much for the great instructable. Just finished mine, can't wait to put out to use.
<p>I skipped the 2 layers of MDF and just mounted a work top on top (got this off ebay - new, 2m 40mm solid beech for 70 quid, delivered!)</p><p>Used sapele for the vice jaws (it has an end vice now too but hadn't installed that when I took this.) Couldn't find S-Clamps over here so made some buttons using leftover sapele to attach the top.</p><p>Including both vices (veritas, but one was second hand off gumtree), cost &pound;330 quid!</p><p>So far have built a shoji/cinema projector screen. Next up - bookshelves! Wahoo!</p>
<p>In fact - it was less than that - only cost &pound;266 in total!</p>
<p>Awesome! I hope to build this some day.</p>
Well, I finally have it almost finished, a couple of more coats of Danish oil and the shelf and it will be done. Bowling alley lane cut down to 7 ft by 3 ft, some stringers for the side rails are from the Detroit car show, 8 ft by 8 inches by 1 1/2 inch maple veneered plywood that I cut down to 4 inches wide, like little beams. The levelers are heavy duty for pinball machines (Ebay). Thanks again for the instructions.
<p>Geez. Is it a workbench or a dining room table for a queen?</p><p>Well, I guess even if your projects fail, at least you will always have something beautiful to look at in the workshop...</p>
Thanks jdege. Although you can't see them very well, there are 93 holes in the table, 4 rows of 22 plus an additional 9 in between those on the side vise end. Three holes in the side vise jaw, 4 in the end vise jaw. There are 4 holes on the side vise leg and another 5 on the leg at the end vise leg, total of 109. Oh yeah, the jaws are bloodwood.

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