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A Dedicated Sharpening Bench
A Dedicated Sharpening Bench – part 7

December 12, 2009

In the last post I finished off the cut out for the granite plate insert and I’m ready to start the glue-up. One last detail I took care of before beginning to glue the frame was to plane some rabbets into the lower cross stretchers. I didn’t get any shots of the process but they’re shallow rabbets about 1/2″ wide and only 1/8″ deep. Their purpose is to create a small lip to register a shelf against later on. These could be eliminated and simple batons screwed to the shelf bottom would act as guides but they only took a few extra minutes to make and will benefit the design and make the shelf installation that much easier.
With the rabbets complete I can finally start to glue. First thing I do is assemble everything I’ll need for the process, glue, clamps, paper towels etc… it’s easier to do this now before getting started, instead of scrambling around looking for something I need while the glue is starting to set!

I begin with each side frame and will glue these up before adding the cross stretchers. I lay them out on the bench and start spreading the glue- lots of it! This is a workbench so I’m not too worried about any squeeze out. There are certain liberties you can take when building a piece destined for the workshop and not someones living room. When I have everything clamped I’ll check for square and measure my diagonals. As soon as the glue sets I’ll drill down through the joints to drive in some hardwood dowels. With a generous amount of glue I drive the dowels home. I leave the side frames to sit overnight and in the morning I’ll trim off the dowels.

I use my Japanese flush cut saw and follow with a low angle block plane.

This completes the side frames and I repeat this process with the two frames standing on my bench top and the cross stretchers in place. I place a clamp across each stretcher and let things ‘cook’ awhile. Once the glue sets I’ll follow the same procedure by drilling and pegging all of the joinery.

With the frame glued I clean off my bench top and turn my attention to the surface pieces. The main work surface area has bread board ends set into the side aprons but to add some extra support I’ll use some blind dowels where it attaches to the front apron. I use a self-centering jig and drill a few holes down the front edge of the surface piece.

Once drilled I can insert some dowel centers and dry fit the pieces one last time. When the surface pieces mate these dowel centers will leave tiny dimples in the oak showing me exactly where I’ll need to drill.

No measuring and no guess work, the dowel centers and centering jig are great work shops aids that make things run a little smoother in the wood shop. Again, these are some jigs that you may not have considered using in a hand tool only workshop.
I take the dry assembly apart and drill out the dowel locations. Again it’s time to start spreading some glue so I’ll go through the ritual of organising everything I’ll need for a stress free assembly. I should also mention that the bread board ends have three tenons in each- the middle tenon gets glued but the two outside ones are left dry. Once assembled all three will be pegged with hardwood dowels as well.
The two side aprons are first followed by the front and rear. Then the whole surface is clamped up tight to draw the dovetails together. Another night to set and in the morning I’ll see how I did. If you look closely at the following picture you’ll notice the placement of the clamps on each outside edge; they’re placed just inside the end of the dovetails so that when clamped tight, the extra meat on the dovetails won’t keep the assembly from coming together tightly.

Sunday sunrise I come down to the shop to find the bench top is looking pretty good. The clamps are removed and I’m happy with the results. I scrape of the squeeze out and with a block plane I’ll trim the dovetails flush with the apron surfaces. I don’t have a whole lot of material to remove so it goes pretty quickly.

From here I’ll take the top assembly and place it good side down on my workbench. I’ll spread some glue for the frame and attach it now. The front slip joints will also get a couple of dowels for added strength- one through the leg and into the oak top and another an inch down through the middle of the joint. Now I can assemble the under carriage. The granite plate is inserted into the cut out and I’ll add the cross stretchers. These are the ones I put the pocket holes in to keep the granite living where it’s supposed to be and not falling out onto my workshop floor.

Two of the four drawer hangers are added as well (at this point I still haven’t decided on my final drawer configuration) and I’ll turn it back over onto the floor to check how the granite plate is sitting.

A reliable straight edge shows me that the granite is sitting just proud of the oak surface. This is good!

I’ll use up a little off cut of 1/4″ walnut plywood from the scrape pile and rip it to size for the tool tray bottom. This is cross cut into two pieces for times when I want the extra depth in the tool tray- I can easily remove one side or the other.

I give everything a coat of boiled linseed oil and paste wax and call it done for today.

In the next post I’ll build the drawers and add the details….stay tuned.

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