Wood movement question


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I have decided to make my Shaker inspired workbench using solid wood instead of plywood. I will likely use poplar or similar because I will be painting the base. My question is this... Will using T&G joinery for the case be sufficient to deal with the wood movement? I am also open to suggestions as far as methods of attaching the faceframe to the case. Nails are the first thing that come to mind...

 

Thanks for all of your help and patience while I go through this workbench endeavor. Each and everyone of your replies have made an impact on my final decisions. 

 

Thank you. :) 

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I don't see why you'd need to worry about movement across the width of the bench with solid panels as long as everything is a solid panel.  Maybe you have some frames or drawer slides where there woul

I've worked on a few softwood-topped workbenches and it can be sort of liberating.  Just nail whatever stops you need, where you need them, when you need them, into the top.  I also worked in a millwo

Yes.

For paint grade in cabinetry, maple is sought over poplar for a number of reasons. Maple is a denser wood, harder to dent, and will provide a more stable component over poplar. In a high traffic area at the lower end of your bench, you will dent the hell out of poplar. Also lighter, less mass than a maple base. Tounge and groove prob not for my tastes. Mortise and tenon, peg them if you want more beef. For any frame and panel work, float the panels and allow for movement. I love the spaceballs, they also help center your panels if you are raising them, helping to acheive crisp lines. You dont have to pay for clear maple, get the dirty stuff with a few knots here and there, after all it is paint grade. Good luck!

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Mel, if you are going with the solid wood, do as Freddie says and go with the maple. If you look on KM's website, they only sell Polar as select and better at $2.08/BF. However, you can get #1 common soft maple for $1.50/BF. If you are painting it, the color of the board shouldn't really matter, along with reasonable defects. Saving 25% on a chunk of your material, for a more robust material at that, is worth it.

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I have decided to make my Shaker inspired workbench using solid wood instead of plywood. I will likely use poplar or similar because I will be painting the base. My question is this... Will using T&G joinery for the case be sufficient to deal with the wood movement? I am also open to suggestions as far as methods of attaching the faceframe to the case. Nails are the first thing that come to mind...

 

Thanks for all of your help and patience while I go through this workbench endeavor. Each and everyone of your replies have made an impact on my final decisions. 

 

Thank you. :)

Before you start your build get the book below to see how Thos. Moser and one of his employees built a Shaker workbench:

 

http://www.amazon.com/In-Shaker-Style-The/dp/1561583960

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Personally I would go with a soft wood, because I would rather ding the bench, than ding a work piece. I know a lot of people hate it, But I have to recommend SYP, as it's cheap and plentiful, it's also stiffer and heavier than woods commonly associated with benches.

http://books.google.com/books?id=zN-ZBSv2UuIC&lpg=PP1&dq=chris%20workbench%20design&pg=PA15#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

My local Menards for example stocks 2" x 12" x 18' (perfect for an 8' benchtop) for $25.89, that's $1.03/BF. It's  construction grade, so you would have to sticker it for a little while, but you can save a boat load of cash.

 

 

With regards to movement, I would go M&T.

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Poplar would be fine for the painted part.  It takes paint nicely, and kiln dried is very stable.  Around here, even Lowes and Home Depot sell clear Poplar boards.  The wider ones are glued up, but the narrower ones are pretty nice, dry, and stable.  I'm sure neither are the cheapest places to get it, but we don't have a good hardwood supplier within a couple of hours, so I always use some of it.

 

T&G should be fine.

 

When we sell small stands of timber, lately we get 15 bucks a ton for pine and hardwood, 10 for Poplar, and one dollar a ton for Sweet Gum.  I don't know what anyone does with Sweet Gum.  The buyers separate Poplar out of what they call "hardwood".

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I don't see why you'd need to worry about movement across the width of the bench with solid panels as long as everything is a solid panel.  Maybe you have some frames or drawer slides where there would be an issue, but you handle that the same way you would in a piece of furniture with solid sides.  If anything it eliminates the movement issue between the top and the cabinet and you can just attach that sucker with a hundred screws if it floats yer boat.

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My thoughts on the T&G are to have a look like this... Particularly how the end pieces are.

 

4602d1282620771-shaker-bench-preview-dsc

 

Not this...

 

img784_xl.jpg?w=640

The design whereby a moveable dog is trapped in a track, like on the 'green' workbench, is a poor one.  If you're going to this much trouble overall, do build a regular tail vise.  The latter will let you trap whole workpieces at an angle for sawing half-blind dovetails, etc.  The other design will not.  See Tage Frid's dovetailing video or any number of other still photographs of a traditional tail vise being used to good effect. 

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I have decided to make my Shaker inspired workbench using solid wood instead of plywood. I will likely use poplar or similar because I will be painting the base. My question is this... Will using T&G joinery for the case be sufficient to deal with the wood movement?

 

Yes.

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I can reap them at any angle in the leg vise. My thought is to have the tail for faces.

The tail vise of which I'm speaking still has dogs and will function in exactly the same manner as the 'green' bench in your photo but without the added limitation of that bench's arrangement not being a true tail vise.  And your leg vise would be better as a shoulder vise, but then that wouldn't be a Shaker bench but a Frid/Klausz/Scandinavian bench.

 

Think about it!  You're about to invest a lot of time and money.  With a shoulder and a tail vise you have completely unobstructed clamping all the way to the floor.  All other front vises and leg vises have a guide screw or screws that get in the way.  You can still build a cabinet underneath the bench if you want to.

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I already have the Bench Crafted hardware. The "green" bench is the one I'm going with.

 

My thoughts about holding large case sides for dovetailing involve using the sliding deadman in conjunction with the leg vise. Heck, right now I get by with a 2x4 bench with an mdf top with a veritas twin screw on the wrong side. I think that anything will be better than what I have now. 

 

Having said all of this... 

When I first started looking at benches, the Klausz bench was the one I thought I would build.

 

In the end, I can not think of a more "American" workbench to build than the Shaker style bench. This is not "the" reason I'm building it, just another tick in that column. In the end, this bench will make me want to spend time with it. It is the one that calls to me the most. 

 

I do certainly appreciate your input on this. 

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Think about it!  You're about to invest a lot of time and money.  With a shoulder and a tail vise you have completely unobstructed clamping all the way to the floor.  All other front vises and leg vises have a guide screw or screws that get in the way.  You can still build a cabinet underneath the bench if you want to.

Mine’s not a Shaker bench, but it has a leg vise and a sliding deadman, and has no problems holding large boards, even ones that get down close to the floor. Here’s a wide board held vertically:

 

IMG_6509.JPG

 

And a long board held horizontally:

 

IMG_6507.JPG

 

My leg vise and sliding deadman did a great job holding the boards that I dovetailed together to make this case. I may have had issues making the dovetails, but having the guide or the screw of my leg vise get in the way was not one of them.

 

IMG_0058.JPG

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Mel,

I agree with Wilbur, the only thing a shoulder vice adds is more versatility. By that I mean a vice should have a leg vice & tail vice, and if you want more flexibility add a shoulder vice.

check out this video that shows what I mean. The down side of having 3 vices, is that the bench cannot be set against a wall.

http://woodtreks.com/design-build-traditional-woodworking-workbench-tail-shoulder-leg-vises/1651/

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Mine’s not a Shaker bench, but it has a leg vise and a sliding deadman, and has no problems holding large boards, even ones that get down close to the floor. Here’s a wide board held vertically:

 

IMG_6509.JPG

 

And a long board held horizontally:

 

IMG_6507.JPG

 

My leg vise and sliding deadman did a great job holding the boards that I dovetailed together to make this case. I may have had issues making the dovetails, but having the guide or the screw of my leg vise get in the way was not one of them.

 

IMG_0058.JPG

With a shoulder vise you wouldn't have needed the deadman and f-clamp in pic 1 at all.  You could clamp to the center of the board since no screw is in the way, not to the side because the screw is in the way on a leg vise.

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With a shoulder vise you wouldn't have needed the deadman and f-clamp in pic 1 at all.  You could clamp to the center of the board since no screw is in the way, not to the side because the screw is in the way on a leg vise.

With a leg vise and a dead man you can edge plane really long boards, that can't be done with a shoulder vice alone.

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