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Thread: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

  1. #1

    Default How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    Hi all, I'm in the middle of finishing my workbench and have the majority of it glued up and handplaned flat. It's 3" thick hard maple.
    The ends are still rough and uneven lengths so I'm at the point of me needing to square it up and trim the ends. Unfortunatly it's too big and heavy to put through my table saw and the blade probably wouldn't cut through the 3" thick slab anyway (havne't tried it). My circular saw blade isn't tall enough. I tried using a straight edge and using a flush trim bit on my router to trim it off square but the thing jumped around, I was taking very shallow cuts both in height and depth of cut. I guess trimming the end grain on hard maple isnt'a a good idea? I then tried a upspiral bit which worked better but I could only get down about an inch+ or so.
    I notice when people but end caps on they but a dado in the workbench ends as well as the end caps and use plywood as the tongue.
    So I guess two questions here, should I flip it over and do the same depth of router cut to be left with a hard maple tongue (tenon I guess in this case) or cut it off completely and use a slot cutter to make a dado and use plywood as the tongue? Not sure why plywood is used, no expansion or to be cheap? The flipping might not be aligned perfect as the other side so if I'm off a bit the cut will be off and the end cap will show a gap on one side.
    Second, if I were to cut it off straight, how can I do this? One pass or two (flippped for 2nd cut)? What tool?
    Why do people keep calling me Rob?

  2. #2

    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob R., Ottawa View Post
    So I guess two questions here, should I flip it over and do the same depth of router cut to be left with a hard maple tongue (tenon I guess in this case) or cut it off completely and use a slot cutter to make a dado and use plywood as the tongue? Not sure why plywood is used, no expansion or to be cheap? The flipping might not be aligned perfect as the other side so if I'm off a bit the cut will be off and the end cap will show a gap on one side.
    This is what I did - used a guided router top and bottom leaving about a 1" tenon that fit into a long mortice in my end block. I added an extra front and rear lamination to the body, which had dovetails in the ends which mated to the pins cut in the ends of the block. As to a gap between the tenon shoulders and the end block, I don't recall seeing a gap on the top so if there is one it must be underneath which I don't care about, but I think with careful measurment you can make that gap very small (if any).

    Good luck with the rest of the bench and remember - pictures!!

    Cheers,
    Kerry

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    Bob,

    A decade ago I made a 3 and 1/4" thick laminated maple workbench top and squared the ends by initial handsawing to square the ends, then using a guided router, flipping the surfaces to have the routed finishes meet.

    The router bit with the longest working surface that I had at the time was a 1/2" downcut spiral onsrud - the working length was 1 and 3/4" so routing from both surfaces of the bench top allowed the finished routed surfaces to meet.

    No real tricks... just took care scribing the saw cut line all around the end of the slab and went slow..... got the handsawn cut surprisingly square..... then took a very light cut with the spiral router bit; can't recall if I had to take two light router cuts to make the ends totally flat...but the whole operation didn't take more than a couple of hours per end.

    I like the look of the end grain on the squared off end and there has been no separation of the laminations. On one squared off end I installed a Lee Valley twin screw vise and having a squared off end there made the vise installation a bit simpler.

    Maybe an opportunity for you to justify buying a new router bit ......smiley

    good luck

    michael

  4. #4

    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    I will be in the same situation shortly (in relativistic terms when you consider how slowly things move in my shop) so am watching this thread closely. I was thinking of doing two passes with a circular saw and cleaning up with a low angle hand plane, but I am liking the suggestions with the router.

    Let us know how it turns out.

    Michael

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    I have a 2.5" thick hard maple top. I trimmed mine with two passes of a circular saw running against a straightedge. I cut about halfway through, popped off the waste with a chisel, then flipped the bench top over and cut the rest from the other side. I flattened and smoothed the end with a low angle plane.

    I didn't bother with an end cap at all, my bench top sits on two beefy horizontal stretchers going across the width of the bench. The tops of the legs are mortised into these stretchers.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    Go back to the router

    1.Clamp a straight edge to your top and run a flush trim bit's bearing along the straight edge to get an initial flat cut the depth of your bit.

    2. remove the straight edge and make another pass, this time having the bearing register against the flat surface you made with the first pass.

    3. if you can't get enough depth, turn the top over and continue the flush cuts, only put a FT bit with a bottom mounted bearing in the router for this pass.

    Best I can come up with

    R
    I dream of a better world, one where chickens can cross roads without having their motives questioned.

  7. #7

    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    Thanks for the suggestions, nice to know I'm not too off track.

    Anyone know why my bottom mounted bearing/flush trim router bit used with a straight edge almost jumped out of my hands but the up spriral was ok? I just touched the maple edge, probably 1/4 - 1/3 inch deep and just knicking the surface for a depth of cut? The bearing wasn't in use at this point obviously. Is there a rule about routing the endgrain I'm not following? It was a new Freud bit, no issues with any other application.
    It made a lot of noise.

    Kerry, looks like you did the maple tennon as opposed to the plywood splines. Anyone have feedback on this? Now's the time for me
    Why do people keep calling me Rob?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    I basically did what Ryan suggested. I cut with the circular saw from both faces of the top to get things relatively straight, then used a straight edge to get half of the edge smooth and straight. The flipped and use a flush trim bit registering off the clean bottom edge. I made my ends breadboards in the end which proved to be a bit trickier than it seemed.

    No idea why your router jumped but are you approaching from the correct direction?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    If you have a good quality jigsaw with blade support EG:Bosch 1590 EVSK or Festool and a long blade simply clamp on a straight edge and away you go!!!

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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob R., Ottawa View Post
    Anyone know why my bottom mounted bearing/flush trim router bit used with a straight edge almost jumped out of my hands but the up spriral was ok? I just touched the maple edge, probably 1/4 - 1/3 inch deep and just knicking the surface for a depth of cut? ...
    Because even a 1/4" in end grain of hard maple is too much. Try less, and slow your router speed right down if you can.
    Personally, I'd use the router as a last resort only to clean up a very little bit that the circ. saw left to do. I can get a remarkably smooth cut with my circ. saw. Take a few passes with it too, from each side, use a good blade and an edge guide, and you probably don't have to do much cleaning up at all.

    Ryan
    Formerly known as "Ryan in Edmonton "

    GALLERY OF PROJECTS: http://lumberjocks.com/galleries/Boomr99#

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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    Have you tried a swift karate chop?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    Do you know anyone with a 10" Milwaukee electric hand saw?
    That will cut nearly 4" depth. I use it for 4 x 4's regularly.
    Please remember that free advise from the Internet is worth what you paid for it ...

  13. #13
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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    There are times a good Radial Arm Saw has it's uses.

    All kinds of very good advice given. If you leave a tenon consider making the first cuts with a guided skill saw with a good blade. Then make a bunch more cross cuts and switch to a router. Make sure there is a guide so the router can not get into the bench top.

    If no tenon a hand saw with a backing piece clamped on so you go straight and at 90 degrees may be another way to go. In some cases the handsaws Easily outperform the power tool and even do the job quicker with less hassle!
    Egon
    from
    The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    Just finished my bench 3 weeks ago. It's made from 3 inch ash (had the same dilemma as you). I used a track saw on 3 progressively deeper cuts, finished with a hand saw, then la smoother and ros. (la smoother didn't work so good, mostly ros )
    If at first you don't succeed do it the way you were told.

  15. #15

    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    My bench has a 3" hard maple top. I used a circular saw to make the ends roughly straight and then used an LV Bevel Up jack plane to get the ends straight. I started out using a low angle block plane but it just didn't have enough mass to let me make progress quickly enough.

    It was hard to keep the circular saw blade from deflecting from vertical (I did make several passes) so there was a fair amount to remove with the plane to get a 90 degree edge between the top and the side. I only have a cheap Black and Decker circular saw so that might be part of the problem.

    Rick in Oakville

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    On one episode of This Old House I saw Tommy & Norm mount a bandsaw/stand on rollers, then used that contraption to sculpt a very large column.

    I'm skeptical about the accuracy of such a set-up, but it's food for thought.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    Trim straight edges on both sides with a router or circular saw as suggested, then clean up the center with a sanding disc on an angle grinder. The angle grinder can be very fast if you use coarse paper, i.e 36 grit. I got the idea from the guys who built my house.

    "Cut it with chainsaw and clean up with the angle grinder."
    It ain't the things you don't know that get you in trouble. It's the things you know for sure that just ain't so.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene45 View Post
    "Cut it with chainsaw and clean up with the angle grinder."
    Best idea yet.
    It would sure save lots of time too.
    JIM
    Calgary, AB

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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?


  20. #20
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    Default Re: How can I trim my workbench top ends?

    Take it to your max depth on the circular saw, then finish it off with the handsaw. A good coarse crosscut will go through that remaining 1inch pretty quick. And the circular saw kerf will help guide your handsaw cut.

    Scott

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