Hand Tools

Subject:
Re: Use of walnut for bench top?...

TomD
I would be on the use it side of things. Hard vs Soft, is normally also on the slick vs sticky, rebound vs dead inverse side of things, so you get and you loose in about equal proportions. Really what stops a bench top being mauled is whether you take reasonable care, the rest doesn't mater. On damage to your work, soft is more likely to hold grit that may mar it. Another thing where you don't worry about it, just work with what you have.

On light, while I defer to Derek's experience to some extent. I don't personally want glare off my bench. I would consider it a benefit that the light does not bounce up. But I haven't been there.

I fell in love with Roubo's before some of you were born, but I fail to see any advantage to them, and since Bench Craft got into the game even the cost advantage has spiraled out of control. I would do something more robust, like traditional heavy breadboards if I were trying to piece a top. My third bench has a two piece top, and I hardware bonded 1/2" studs into the endgrain, so that when they were installed, all that showed was an acorn nut. Super stout instant disassembly and reassembly, not that one does, but no chasing captured nuts makes me sleep better at night. Unless you have something substantial piecing the timbers, I would worry.

I got a big jolt from seeing some Japanese carpenters who had plane blocks that were not finished on the bottom. I had believed the thing about the blocks being soaked in Tung oil and allowed to harden off, but no, they left the bottoms exposed so they could tune them (a wag might say so they would have to tune them). But if you want to go for the snob appeal that comes from being more open technically, you might consider leaving the top surface unfinished (or get some trophy pics first). Then you can touch it up with a plane to refresh the surface, and to allow the higher frictional coefficient to help you out. This could also fit into your process of drying, though there might be some risk with the dovetails.

I cut a piece of 4 inch beech for a 5th bench. I don't have a place for one, though with the kids moving out, I may put one in front of the TV (what do you think about the new coffee table?). Anyway, the thing I noticed was that the weight stabilized in my unheated shop in under a year. There is some deal about how beech dries extraordinarily fast due to transverse pores. I guess!

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