Starting with the top is probably the best approach. While its great if you can follow plans exactly, in the case of a workbench they’re used more as a minimum or as a guideline. For example, my plans call for an 80mm thick top – this accounts for the nature of construction grade material where you may need to remove a fair bit to get it all flat and square. However, if you can get thicker, great, no need to cut it down to 80mm. If you started with the legs first, but ended up with a thicker top you’d either have to thickness down the top or cut the legs down anyway to get your desired height.
Cut to length
Because 5.4m lengths won’t fit in the car, I had Bunnings cut everything down to 2m. Thats plenty oversize so I can actually square up both ends – its very rare for any home centre to be able to cut things square!
Once everything was squared up (yet still a little bit oversized), I took it to the jointer and flattened once face and one edge. The edges don’t really need to be square just yet, but it does give me a good reference surface later for when I put the dominoes in.
After one edge and one face was flattened, it went through the thicknesser to get both faces flat and parallel.
While its not strictly needed, I used 6mm Dominos in each piece before glueup to stop any vertical movement while clamping up. That much glue surface with that many clamps slides around like crazy, so a little extra insurance doesn’t go astray. If you have a biscuit jointer or doweling jig, they would work just as well. If you don’t, it’s not the end of the world. You can use use some gluing cauls or just do it in several glue ups to make it more manageable.
I used Titebond III for the glue in the lamination, not for its water proof properties, but because it has a slightly longer open time. This gives me a bit more time to get all the clamps on and everything aligned. In other sections of this build I used some Titebond Extend, but I didn’t have it at this stage of the build.
This was probably pushing the capabilities of the combo machine, but it handled it just fine. Each slab is about 303mm, while the max capacity of the thicknesser is 305mm. I cut that a little close. I only cleaned up the underside – the top side will be cleaned up and flattened after the bench is constructed, using a router in a slab flattening sled. Flattening the underside makes it possible to accurately lay out the joinery, however.
I had deliberately set the Domino to the widest setting for ease of assembly, this still stops vertical movement, but not horizontal, meaning the lamination layers were a little bit staggered.
To bring both slabs to the same length, I clamped them together and used the tracksaw to cut through. As my blade is getting a bit dull, I did two passes per side per end, flipping after two passes to get the full depth of cut needed.
The outfeed table I made last week was specifically made to resaw this divider, and it worked admirably for that.
I cut about 30mm high into the divider along its short edge, flipped it, repeated, then flipped it end for end and repeated that process, leaving me with four sizeable cuts. This is much cleaner and quicker than just using the bandsaw.
Using the bandsaw to finish it off is much safer, and with the kerf lines from the tablesaw makes it really easy to follow the lines.
Once it was resawn I cut out the ‘divisions’ using the cross cut sled, and then could glue it back together. I could have started with three thinner boards, but this way I get a nice grain match all the way along.