Dad's Benchtop Bench: Part I

A few weeks ago, I wrote of how cool some Benchtop Benches are. After contemplating buying the Sjoberg Smart Vise for him, I instead opted to build a Jeff Miller style Benchtop Bench for my Dad for Father's day.

Jeff Miller's Benchtop Bench from
As might be expected of me, I began by milling the legs out of Timerstrand. One of the nice things about Timberstrand is that they come almost perfectly flat. They’re also easy to mill. A few passes over the jointer and through the planer left them ready for joinery.

Timberstrand mills just fine.
Rather than use the traditional tenons that Miller used on his original, I used Dominos (no suprise to a regular reader. I glued the tops and bottoms to the legs. It was my intention to bolt the front and back stretchers as Miller did, using unglued Dominos rather than his staunch tenons. I say it was intention, because as with many good intentions, this fell to the wayside once I had the Domino and glue in hand. The stretchers are not permanently glued to the legs.

Miller centered his stretchers on his legs, resulting in their being set back slightly from the face of the legs. As it was easier, I simply jointed my stretchers flush with the face of the legs.

The leg assemblies.
I glued the leg assembly in two (2) steps. First I glued the top and bottoms to the legs. Then I glued the leg assemblies to the stretchers. As soon as they were glued up, I put the whole thing on my table saw as a flat reference surface. There was some twist to bench base, so while the glue was still wet I added an extra clamp diagonally across them to try to pull the twist out.

The stretchers glues in and the diagonal clamp to minimize racking.
Once the leg assembly was in clamps, I began on the top and vise.

The top is made of the finger jointed mystery wood panels you can get from the home centers. I laminated four of the panels together (3/4” each to make a 3” slab) about a year ago as an experimental benchtop. The whole thing was about 6’ long and had an awful twist to it.

To make the benchtop bench top, I cut a 24” length off the end of the home center panel experiment. With a few passes through the planer, this smaller length flattened out quickly and ended up just under 3” thick.

The benchtop on the legs.