Pwk5017

Ash for a roubo build

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I am looking to take on my first serious project. I've made various coat racks, shelves, cutting boards, shop assembly tables etc, but nothing too demanding so far. I will consider the roubo my first challenging project. Also the first project where I will be using hardwood, and not construction grade stuff or MDF. However, I would like to build this bench on a budget. I am in the middle of buying a full compliment of power tools and dust collection, so I would like to keep this bench to about $225+/- for the lumber, a leg vise, and a tail vise. I doubt this will be the first and last bench I ever build, so I don't mind if it has a few mistakes and isn't good enough to make it on the benchcraft website. I searched on craigslist and found a guy selling ash off his property. I thought, "great, ash is a nice hard wood on the janka scale so this could be good". He wants a dollar a board foot. The problem is the boards are only 5/4 and he just had them sawn in dec-jan. I asked if they would be ready to build with, because I have read that the standard is 1 year per inch of air drying. He said the emerald ash borers got to his trees in the fall, so he had them cut immediately. He said when they were sawn all the sap had drawn out of them. Now, I am a total lumber noob. I can order it just fine, but moisture content and aging is a whole other ball game for me. Do these boards sound remotely usable for a bench? Should I buy a $25 moisture meter off amazon to check them with?

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I would think they haven't dried enough yet, plus are you going to laminate the boards together to achieve a thicker top? If it where me I think I would shop around some more and try and, find some 8/4 or better you need a thicker top for the hold fasts bite plus you want your bench to have good mass so it doesn't move on you when applying lateral pressure like hand planing. Ash would be an excellent choice for the bench.  Good luck I really enjoyed building my Roubo.

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The meter is a good idea. I once laminated a "beater" bench to from 2x4 lumber. Even glued face to face for 3 1/2" thickness, it still twisted. I assume that was due to moisture.

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You could buy the ash and then take it to a sawmill to get it dried in their kiln. It wouldn't cost that much and take too long. Ash would be great for your bench especially at that price.

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You could buy the ash and then take it to a sawmill to get it dried in their kiln. It wouldn't cost that much and take too long. Ash would be great for your bench especially at that price.

 

I like this idea..  Check locally to see what the cost is before you purchase..

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Good news: he cut them down in winter, so the moisture content is lower

 

Bad news: the moisture content is still probably too high

 

Definitely get the moisture meter though, and consider buying the ash to save for something else if you can't find a kiln.  Make sure there is no bark or sapwood, so that you lower the risk of transporting borers, which won't hurt the wood but will infect and kill other trees.

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Yes, I planned on gluing about 30 4" by 7-8' lengths together to achieve a top that is about 4" thick and 36" wide. Do the same for the legs, so they are about 6"x4". I would prefer to have 8/4 material, but he told me everything is sawn to 5/4. I will have to look into the kiln scenario. I really don't know of a lumber yard that kiln dries lumber here, but I will search around. How much does this service generally run? Say I take the moisture meter, what number am I looking for? I vaguely remember kiln dried stuff is 8-10% and air dried is about double that. Would 20% be acceptable to build with?

 

RPCV, that's a good point. Those suckers are terrorists. I have seen first hand the devastation they have brought to central PA. It sucks that the Ash was such a popular reforestation species, and was planted as almost a monoculture in some cases. Lets hope it can be contained.

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It sucks that the Ash was such a popular reforestation species, and was planted as almost a monoculture in some cases. Lets hope it can be contained.

 

Nature abhors a monoculture.  Here in northern Illinois, Ash trees are dropping like flies.

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We lost a bunch about 10-15 years ago but it doesn't seem like the problem is quite as bad now as it was.  Maybe because we lost so many already that there aren't enough left now to notice.  I have a purple ash in my backyard that keeps going strong.  We also lost a bunch of Austrian pines recently in my area...can't remember what the problem was with them, but you hardly see one anymore aside from a dried up dead skeleton.

 

To the OP...I'd find another source.  This isn't the right pile for the project you're wanting to build.  Don't get hung up on it because it's a good deal...which it may or may not be.  Ash is cheap...my dealer sells 4/4, kiln dried, S3S ash for a little more than double what you're about to pay.

 

It's still green, so you'll either need to store it for another year or have it kiln dried, and the latter will take your good deal to not a very good deal.  And while yes, you certainly could laminate all that 5/4...I don't know why you'd want to.  There's lots of lumber out there...keep looking.

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i live in illinois as well (naperville) our neighborhood was lined with many ash trees as well.  three taken down last fall on my culdesac.  my ash tree is clinging to life.

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We lost a bunch about 10-15 years ago but it doesn't seem like the problem is quite as bad now as it was.  Maybe because we lost so many already that there aren't enough left now to notice.  I have a purple ash in my backyard that keeps going strong.  We also lost a bunch of Austrian pines recently in my area...can't remember what the problem was with them, but you hardly see one anymore aside from a dried up dead skeleton.

 

To the OP...I'd find another source.  This isn't the right pile for the project you're wanting to build.  Don't get hung up on it because it's a good deal...which it may or may not be.  Ash is cheap...my dealer sells 4/4, kiln dried, S3S ash for a little more than double what you're about to pay.

 

It's still green, so you'll either need to store it for another year or have it kiln dried, and the latter will take your good deal to not a very good deal.  And while yes, you certainly could laminate all that 5/4...I don't know why you'd want to.  There's lots of lumber out there...keep looking.

Yes, after reading the first few responses, I came to that realization. The wood isn't ready, and wont be for quite some time. I wasn't thrilled about the 5/4, but was willing to overlook it for the price. Whelp, knowing that I threw this idea out the window this morning, I hit the pavement again. Found a kiln dried source of 8/4 for 52 cents a bd ft! Don't know the species yet, but the picture looks like a mixed bag. Hopefully some of it is a hardwood, and I can get going on the bench build.

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Good news: he cut them down in winter, so the moisture content is lower

 

Bad news: the moisture content is still probably too high

 

Definitely get the moisture meter though, and consider buying the ash to save for something else if you can't find a kiln.  Make sure there is no bark or sapwood, so that you lower the risk of transporting borers, which won't hurt the wood but will infect and kill other trees.

A couple of years ago a friend in Louisiana cut two cherry trees and gave them to me and I had them milled. Prior to cutting, I did some research on whether the sap being up or down had anything to do with the moisture content. I found different opinions so we just cut them in crawfish season and didn't worry about the moisture. Does anyone know for sure if the sap at the time of cutting, determines the moisture content?

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Don't know the species yet, but the picture looks like a mixed bag. Hopefully some of it is a hardwood, and I can get going on the bench build.


Does it have to be hardwood (i.e. deciduous) in order to be hard enough to make a bench? Great price and I'd be inclined to use it whatever it is.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Based upon what I learned at my recent class, when it's cut can make a huge difference. Fall is a good time to cut for drying purposes.

U need a moisture meter if u are even thinking about using it soon.

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Does it have to be hardwood (i.e. deciduous) in order to be hard enough to make a bench? Great price and I'd be inclined to use it whatever it is.

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that's a question for more experienced bench builders--I haven't built one yet. I have considered this too though. What if its a softwood like Hemlock or Eastern White Pine? Those are the two softwoods common to my area. On the janka scale, they are 400-500, I think. That's half of maple, ash etc. I suppose the only negative to using a softer wood is it will begin showing a lot more damage over time--dents, dings, scratches. I don't think these things are detrimental except for big dents that would affect the way a workpiece lays on the surface.  I imagine you would want to add different species for the vise chops and face plates, but other than that, I don't think there is a problem with making a bench out of a softer wood. Im with you, for the price, I would probably use hemlock. I already said that I want this bench to last me 5-7 years, by which time I hope to be in a new house, and working on a new bench with an infinite budget!

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Those super-soft softwoods are very light, too...and you want mass in a bench.  I'd consider southern yellow pine or other "harder" softwoods, but I personally wouldn't use the soft softwoods.  At least consider building the top out of something harder and denser.  The base doesn't really matter aside from its mass.  I built my entire bench out of soft maple, and I kind of wish I'd gone with hard instead.

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My roubo bench is made from laminated 2x6s from HD and, a butt load of glue it weighs around 500lbs yes it dents and, dings it's a work bench I abuse it on every project. So IMO if money is a problem 2x?s from HD is an excelent option.

gallery_2926_515_82536.jpg

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i kind of like that bench made out of 2X6 and a butt load of glue.  does the pine hold up okay to the dogs on the vise?  actually i don't see any dog holes.

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i kind of like that bench made out of 2X6 and a butt load of glue.  does the pine hold up okay to the dogs on the vise?  actually i don't see any dog holes.

Dog holes every 6" look at the picture again and, yes the the bench dog holes hold up okay the bench is actually hemlock it's called hemfir up here in Washington state at the HD but it's more hemlock than fir.

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i see the holes now on the left side of the pic.  from the angle i thought they were some kind of marking system, couldn't tell they were holes.  i miss washington.  used to live in port orchard.

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Mine is made from that sucky crap they call 'white wood' at Lowes. Dog holes are fine for the dogs ( bits of 3/4" dowel ), and even work well with a hold-fast. I suspect the hold-fast is gonna wear them out eventually, though.

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My thought if I ever cam out the dog holes rout out a recess the length of the dog holes 2" wide glue a 1x2 piece of maple in the recess drill through from the bottom of the bench using the existing hole for a guide flip the bench over rinse and repeat now you have all the strength you need for hold fasts.

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sorry this is kind of a silly question, but when you talk about "laminated" 2x6 what does that actually mean.  i have heard that term a few times and at first just assumed it meant the boards were jointed, planed and then glued together. now i am not so sure.

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