Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

FINALLY got the bench

Well! After many false warnings about moving a workbench two whole blocks, from my wife's uncle's place to mine (I've uncovered an e-mail from me to him (11/29/09), anticipating "three to four weeks"!) I **finally** did it!

Did it this recent Sunday, June 12th, after church -- with the help of my next-door brother-in-law, the scrap metal hoarder (in symbiotic contrast to my wood hoarding).

According to my wife's uncle (who apprenticed as a carpenter in his youth [he's now in his 70s], but worked most of his life as a construction supervisor) :

The bench was under the grandparents house at Carl St Thompson Estate (Buranda). Great-Grandpa G. used it for general cabinet/carpentry work. He probably made the cedar sideboard we have here in our dining room on it.

When he died my Dad moved some of his stuff down here on the farm at Gumdale into one of the unused chicken houses. This was c. 1947/8.

I rescued it from the termites c. 1964.

I put a MDF board top on it around 1970 and previously used it to make
all of the doors and windows on our house on it. Also our four poster bed. Plus lotsa other stuff I forget.

SO you had better to make GOOD use of it. Maybe keep warm in winter.
Should burn well!!!!

So, it's somewhere around 100-120 years old -- **and** "family" (her uncle's paternal grandfather -- so, my wife's great-grandfather's). That's WAY cool!!! :)

Although I'm not a blood relative, my wife's uncle knows that I'm the most into woodworking than anyone else of my generation (i.e., his daughter or her partner; my wife; her sibs or their partners). So, a few years after I moved to Australia, he offered it to me: I just needed a good place to put it. My woodshop was built a year or two ago: then it was just a matter of lining up a weekend where I was free, my brother-in-law was free, the uncle was free, **and** it wasn't raining. And, **finally**...!!!

The uncle restores old cars -- so for him, this was just one of three large, flat surfaces to place things "in progress". After the brother-in-law and I moved this workbench out of the way, we replaced it with spare workbench that had been under the eaves behind the house for a decade or so. Then we balanced the workbench on a dolly and walked down the street (literally -- luckily, no traffic!), across my front yard, and then carried it from my carport to my workshop. A little heavy -- but not horrible.

Some snapshots, followed by relevant commentary, are below. As typical, click on the photo to enlarge it.

Here's a general shot of the workbench, including a "sleeve" (don't know the correct term) for the sliding arm(?) of the leg vice. (Leg vice! Neat-o!)

(Upon reflection: technically, I don't think it's a leg vice, as it's not mounted into the leg, and doesn't hold the workpiece against the leg. Just FYI.)

Note that my workshop area is fairly long and narrow. That's fine with me.

A lot of leg vices use a removable pin the the bottom sliding bar to keep it open: the bottom gap is supposed to be about the same width as the object being held in the top. Instead of a pin, I have three blocks of wood of differing thicknesses that I mix and match to create the right gap.

Check out the span of the leg vice! 9.25" (24cm). Yowza! That's **huge**!!!

One quirk of the workbench is that the uncle actually worked at the "back" of the workbench. One implication is that there's a "mystery hole" near the back (his "front"). I'll have to ask him what it's for.

Another implication of the front-versus-back conversion is that the MDF sheeting that he added is tidier at **his** front (which was the original "back"). So, when I'm using it in the original orientation (in order to use the vice), the added sheeting doesn't quite line up. Still functional, though.

Here's a closer shot of the left-hand end. You can see the MDF top, with the original top underneath, with the ragged ends. Sometime here I'll take off the MDF top, and probably add two to four inches of additional wood on top. That might involve taking an inch or two off the legs -- but that's o.k., as the ends of the legs (not shown) are a little ragged.

Note also that there's a very thin sheet of material over the original wooden apron (the vertical wood), which faces the vice. At some point, I'll remove that as well. I'll probably replace it with some half-inch planks of wood.

A closer view of the raggedy ends of the original top.

Here's a shot of the underneath the workbench -- just to give you a sense of the structure. The bottom-most horizontal, closest to the viewer, is a drawer runner: you can see its partner farther back in the picture. At some point I'll probably add a drawer there.

Here you can see the "borer" holes. The insects are supposedly long gone -- but I'll putty them up, just the same. If no new holes appear, then good. If new holes appear: bad.

Here's the tip of my thumb indicating the overhang of the MDF top over the vice area. Ideally, the benchtop is flush with the apron (the side of the workbench), so that you can clamp things between the vice face and the apron. The overhang messes this up. (Makes sense, though: the uncle used the other side of the workbench -- and didn't use this vice.)

Here's the early stages of my sawing away the overhang. Left an ugly edge -- but I didn't want to take the time to make it pretty. Besides, the whole MDF top will get removed, eventually.

Within about a half hour of putting the workbench in position, I was already using it! I'm in the process of puttying up the decorative grooves in a pair of old speaker boxes, prior to painting them with glow-in-the-dark paint. **Much** nicer to have a waist-high work surface, rather than working with them on the floor! And, much safer than doing things on the kitchen counter (and hoping to heck I don't screw up and damage the countertop!).

The workbench is a work in progress, to be sure. But, I'm honoured to have it.


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At June 19, 2011 4:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my vote is the sooner you can remove the mdf, the better! great bench!
thanks for sharing

At June 20, 2011 12:30 PM, Anonymous Eric said...

Congratulations! I think that'll serve you very well.

The mystery hole sure looks to me like it received a planing stop, which would be completely flush with the top when pounded down.

At June 21, 2011 9:33 AM, Anonymous Robert said...

Yepp, nice old piece! I vote with Anonymous (he wrote lots of hymns eh?) MD?F that off kwik, suggest Kwila for the new surface. Even double cross-layer it with used verandah planking if you can't find any thick stuff. Thanks for sharing eh.

At June 24, 2011 12:36 AM, Anonymous bierhoernchen said...

Nice bench - Glad it finally worked out! I'll have to just keep using my wooden table. . .


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