Portable Work Bench (Part 20) Spiffing Up The Work Surface

My current work surface is high density particle board, which has served me quite well. I have had the occasional slip of a tool which produces the inevitable gouge into the work surface, for the most part I just wince a little and move on. But it’s overly simple and downright boring, so I would like to embellish the new work bench top a bit. I’m afraid this is going to come with a price. How bad am I going to cringe on the first few dents and dings I put into the new work bench. I guess we will find out over time.

I really enjoy mixing different kinds of wood, especially in contrasting colors. With this thought I am going to combine some curly maple, cherry and black walnut with the existing oak on the work surface. My thinking is, if I spend even half as much time as I would like to behind this work bench, I’d like it to look nice.

Cherry and black walnut applied to the work surfaces.
Cherry and black walnut applied to the work surface edges.

With help from Brad, we man handled the two large sections of the work surface through the jointer to get one edge flat. The other edge was cut on the table saw to get us close and to make the two edges reasonably parallel. Then back onto the jointer to make that second side flat.

The 3/4″ piece of black walnut went through the band saw to get resawn, then it went through the planer to get smooth. Final size was just over 1/4″, no need for it to be exact, more important that both pieces were the same thickness. Initially the black walnut and cherry look pretty washed out, but over time they will darken from the sun and get the nice warm tones expected.

Jointing the back half of the work surface edging.
Jointing the back half of the work surface edging.

Working on the back portion of the surface, I have added a 3/4″ piece of cherry to the outside edge. On the inside edge, next to the future removable tool tray I have added a 1/4″ piece of black walnut. On the front work surface, I can only add the 1/4″ black walnut to the inside edge at this time. The front cherry piece will have to wait until the square dog hole section is added later. Gluing these boards on was much of the same as I have shown in previous posts about the bench, so I will save you from seeing yet another photo of a heck of a lot of clamps.

Once the glue was dry, I used a jack plane to remove the bulk of the waste on the over sized edge. Then the jointer plane came in and made it nice and flat to the rest of the bench. I also removed a little bit of glue and high spots from the center of the massive glue ups. This will make it easier when we run it through the planer much later in the process.

There was much discussion about options on how to add the square dog hole strip to the existing front work surface, we will certainly have more on that in the future.

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