Monday, August 5, 2013

FORP - Epilogue (homework)

So it's been 2 weeks since I got back from the FORP down in beautiful southern Georgia.  I sure do miss my time down there, but I am starting to adjust back to my normal life.  Shop time has been slow but steady.  I spent the previous month or more feverishly preparing for the trip, constructing my tool chest and saw horses.  Its been nice to take it easy and relax for a few days.  But I have had some progress!

So, if you don't remember, I did not completely finish my bench while at the FORP.  And it turned out to be to my benefit as it was MUCH easier transporting and moving it to my basement shop not assembled.  Which meant that I had some homework to do.  But that was ok, because I was back in my cozy shop with all the time I needed to complete the bench without rushing.  The result of the last 2 weeks is that my bench, although not finished, is 100% functional.  It is assembled and the leg vise is operational.

With the help of a couple friends, we got the pieces of the bench moved downstairs and set up on the horses.  My shop is a complete mess and in total disarray at this point.

The next time I got down to the shop, I noticed that the big check had opened up a bit more.  I pulled out the tape measure and indeed it had opened up by as much as 3/32.  I put a clamp on to see if it would pull back and it did.  So before I went any further, I decided to stabilize the check by installing a "dog bone" suggested to me by Chris Schwarz.  This is essentially just two holes drilled out by a forstner bit, big enough to fit your wrenches into and a channel connecting them for the bolt to lie into.  Note, this is done to the bottom of the bench, not the top!  I installed 2 of these dog bones and they pulled the check together nicely, back to where the edges of the bench are once again parallel.  I will install a couple butterflies on the top side to help keep the check stable.

So, here I am dry fitting everything together.  I didn't want to drive the legs completely home yet until final assembly.

My dad came up to help me assemble the bench.  The whole thing took about 20 minutes or so.  When we were done, he looked at me and said "What's next?"  I wasn't expecting to keep working, but he seemed eager to keep going, so we worked on getting the leg vise installed.  I should have done this before we assembled the bench, but I didn't have enough time and I wanted to get it done while I had help.  No problem, we just tilted the assembled bench over on its side and we went to work chopping out the long mortises for the Benchcrafted Crisscross guide.  It's always an absolute joy having my Dad work with me in my shop and we had a good time!  Unfortunately, the "Retro" version of my Crisscross called for the installation holes to be tapped for the machine screws and I didn't have a tap to use.  So we got as far as we could and called it a night.

The next morning, Saturday, my wife and I went out to get some breakfast.  On the way home I stopped and got a tap set from Home Depot.  I went straight to the shop when we got home and started the final install of the Crisscross.  I was on a mission to get this thing functional.  I was trying to figure out how I could drill the holes on the leg for the machine screws.  They have to be nice and straight and you can't really take an assembled bench to the drill press.  Then I remembered that I won a drilling jig from Bridge City Toolworks a few weeks back and gave it a try.  I practiced on the chop first as it is easier to replace/fix than the leg if I screw up.  But it was a piece of cake!  Fantastic tool!  I will certainly use this again in the near future.

So with the holes drilled and tapped, I was set to put it all together and see how if it works!  Success!  It worked perfectly!  I had some reservations over this wood screw, but not any longer.  It really works nice and fast and holds extremely well!

So then it was time to cut the boards for the shelf and lay those down.  They are just sitting on the runners glued to the rails, no nails or screws or anything.  Just a snug fit and gravity.  I still need to fit the boards on the ends around the legs, but I will worry about that later.  With the bench now assembled and functional, I felt the urge to set it into its "permanent" location, which meant I needed to clean up a bit.  And of course, once the floor is clean, why not take the opportunity to lay some rubber tile for cushion to stand on?  I think this will be my new layout.  I am sure I will tweek it a bit as I begin working with the new layout, but it seems like I have good space to move around with this setup.

Take a good look, this is probably the most clean the shop will be for awhile!  :)  I am itching to get to work on a new project.  I think first up will be a quick wine bottle/glass rack for a friend and then refinishing those stools in the background.  I made those last year, but screwed up the finish on them.  I just have to sand them down and refinish, but have put it off for too long.  Now I need to get them out of the way.

Finally, yesterday I got a full day in the shop working on a new project.  The aforementioned wine rack.  Let me tell you this, with only ONE DAY in the shop on the new bench, I am THRILLED!!!!  I love this bench!!  It is so nice to have a large substantial workbench to work off of.  This thing is solid.  I set my Moxon vise up at one end and had plenty of area to set my tools and work.  I seem to work so much faster and definitely happier in this arrangement.  I can't believe I have gone so long without a good bench.  My investment is already paying back!!  :)  I do need to install my planing stop very soon.  I think it will come in very handy!

This will be my last post in the FORP series.  I am sure I will continue to work and improve the bench, but as I said it is functional and I need to get back into my projects list.  Once I finish the wine rack and the stools, I plan to either do a new entertainment center or a new dresser for my baby boy's room.  He is due in early January, so the clock is ticking and I hear it loud and clear.  But no matter what I do next, I am sure I will blog about it here!

Thanks again for all the interest in the FORP series.  It was truly one of the best experiences!  I will have these memories for the rest of my life and I have this fantastic bench as a daily reminder.  I am glad I was able to bring some of it to you all.  Take care!
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