Portable Bench Build (Part 9) Starting the Top

Gluing up these small pieces is a lot of extra work, not something I would suggest anyone else do. But its free material! We have glued up sets of twos and threes, then combined them into five packs like was done for the front legs. The only real difference is we are piecing together for length, which means butt joints. These butt joints are intentionally staggered, so we don’t get any of them close together which could make a weak section.

Clamping of a single layer for half the bench top.
Clamping of a single layer for half the bench top.

Once we get to a five pack, I run it through the jointer, so the wide surface is reasonably flat. I’m not trying to get perfect, just flat enough to have reasonable alignment for glue up registration. I am also trying to keep as much thickness as practical. The first plank we glued up from three five packs was less than perfect because I forgot to joint the edges that were to be glued. You can probably see the gaps where the edges should have been jointed in the photos. The second plank was much better, learn as we go and hopefully minimize issues.

So far we have 15 individual little boards, per plank and now have two planks complete. They are just under 12 inches wide and they will likely be used in the second and third layer (counting from the top surface down). We are planning to put quarter sawn boards on the top most surface, might as well since we have some very nice stock for it. We will have 5 or 6 layers of planks, I’m hoping for about 4 inches in thickness, I will be fine with anything from 3-3/4″ to 4-1/2″ thick.

Full view of single layer of half the bench top.
Full view of single layer of half the bench top.

Once the planks were glued up we run them through the planer to get the rest of the glue off and to take them one step closer to flat. Our goal isn’t perfectly flat, just flat enough to get a good glue bond.

Top of front bench leg patch.
Top of front bench leg patch.

I also fixed a miss calculation on the legs, you can see the blocks I glued in for this repair.  I will just plane them off next time I’m in the shop. Not a big deal, just one of many things left on the list to get done.

Next I hope we can get the quarter sawn pieces glued up for the top most layer and finish patching the front legs, as my miss calculation was also on the lower portion.

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