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.


That's a sweet bench! Does everything you need doin'.
Where do I go to get dimensional lumber planned and sanded as you suggest. Does HD or Lowe's offer this?
<p>HD in my area doesn't sell kiln dried 4x4...i got them at lowes though</p>
<p>check instructions from WoodPrix projects</p>
<p>Great tutorial <a href="http://www.instructables.com/member/jdege/" rel="nofollow">jdege!!</a></p>
<p>Great instructable </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="http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-Workbench-For-the-Workshop/">http://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>
<p>Which woodworking plans site is best? Anybody have some good<br>recommendations?</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.

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