My 18th Century Workbench in progress 26


On Friday afternoon I turned plugs for all the holes created in the bench top to attach hardware. They were then glued in overnight and worked flush to the top first thing on Saturday.


Initially I had plans to build quite elaborate sliding tool trays to occupy the space between the twin-top of my bench. After lots of thought I decided to first build very basic trays in order to get an idea of what I really need by using them for a while. This train of though produced these Masonite and Tasmanian Blackwood trays held together with 32 self-tapping and four traditional wood screws (each).

As you can see there are five trays in total. There are three that operate in the top groove and two in the bottom. They slide effortlessly to enable the bench user to be able to open up space when he/she would like to use F-style clamps through the split in the top. They also provide a very handy storage option for the bread and butter tools that are constantly used at the bench.

I made lids for the top three trays to prevent unwanted debris from nesting in them. The bottom two trays hide under the top ones, so they do not need lids. The top surface of the lids sit roughly 3 mm below the top of the bench, which creates a handy area to place tools that might want to roll off the bench. This is illustrated in the pictures by the Yankee screwdriver.


The building phase of this project had it’s first birthday on Sunday the 1st of February. I managed to apply the first coat of finish only hours before the celebrations. For this purpose I prepared a 1:1:1 mixture of Tung Oil, Mineral turpentine and diesel. From my reading it seems as if wood borer (which frequents this particular neck of the woods) loves beech, so I though the addition of some diesel might persuade them to seek alternative pastures. In the pictures you can see how it made the Kaapse Swarthout, Witpeer, Ysterhout and Assegaai come alive, while It gave the beech a very slight amber tinge. It was followed up on Sunday with a coat of Wooddock. You might notice that I did not apply any finish to the top as it still awaits it’s final flattening. The plans is to use a Tung Oil and Varnish mixture for the top. Please note that it might be useful not to sand between coats as it creates a grippy texture, which is desirable on a workbench.


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