Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Tool Bench, part 2.

Part 1 is here.

I intend to mount several stationary tools to the bench.  Since some are heavy and other will involve me applying some force, I decided to put a thick top on the bench.  After going through my scrap plywood pile, I found I had four pieces of 1/2" plywood that were all the right size.  The truth is, I had been using one of these for a temporary work surface.  When I sized the bench, I used the plywood's dimensions as a starting point and designed outwards.

The plan was to glue together these 4 sheets of plywood to make a heavy top.

The first step in gluing 4 sheets of plywood together is to get a friend to help.  My friend Marco came over to lend an assist.  We first taped plastic grocery bags over the sides and the lip on which the top would sit, so any squeeze-out would not glue the top to the sides.  We then numbered each piece of plywood so we could assemble the top in the correct order.  We discussed how the glue-up would happen. Carpenter's glue is made to set up pretty fast - this is usually a good thing.  For complex glue-ups, not so much!  We positioned all my clamps and cauls so when it was time, we'd be ready and wouldn't be fumbling for them.

Finally we placed the first sheet of plywood.  I got the first bottle of yellow carpenter's glue ready by removing the top.  I poured the glue right out of the bottle while Marco spread it over the plywood.  I poured about 8 ounces of glue - enough so the entire surface was wet and stayed wet.  Then we dropped the 2nd sheet of plywood in place and repeated the gluing procedure.  When all was said and done, I used a total of 32 ounces of glue.  I probably could have safely used more.

We verified that all the plywood was positioned correctly; it would be hard to fix after the glue set.  Then we clamped the plywood sheets down and together using bar clamps and cauls to spread the pressure evenly.  We used pairs of clamps and 2x4's on-edge to force the plywood sheets tight against the lip.  For better or for worse, the top now conforms to the bench.  It probably doesn't matter that much, the bench was pretty square.

The next day I took the clamps off.  Much to my relief, the plastic bags did indeed prevent us from gluing the top to the sides.  Had it not worked, there would have been little chance of ever getting the bench apart in case I had to get it out of the basement or perform some modification to it.

Here what the bench looks like with it's new 2" thick top.  Pardon my sawdust, I had to true up the edges of the top a little bit.

Here's a close up, though I don't know how helpful it is.

I had originally intended run some stringers around the bottom of the legs.  I don't know if I will or not.

Next steps will include screwing the top down and bolting down the tools.