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  • Dug Fir Question

    I am about to make a workbench and the plans call for dug fir. At my local home depot all the dug fir they have is proceeded by the word green. In my limilted woodwoking knowledge that means freshly cut. Wouldnt that not be a good choice? Or is that just what its called and has been dried? Proabably a dumb question but I am a little confused.

    Something else I am wondering, most serious woodworking workbenchs are made from maple it seems. How about ash, I dont see that used often and seems like a less expensive option.

    The bench I am making isnt a serious woodworking type but more a general work surface for the garage. In a couple of years when I get a better at this hobby I will make a serious workbench as those tail vises can come in real handy.

  • #2
    Re: Dug Fir Question

    A) *&^%$# to Home Depot for good lumber. Try a good lumber yard. As for the bench top you can save lots of work by using two layers of good plywood and covering it with 1/8 or 1/4 hard board. Maple is normally used for butcher block type tops as it is a hard wood and resists hammer blows. It's also stable when properly dried, machined, glued up and put under pressure to cure. Once final machined it gets sealed with poly floor varnish or lacquer. For all the work you can buy ready made and factory sealed bench tops. Ask at serious lumber yards and also look in your yellow pages under Material Handling & Storage. As for legs and bracing you normally are better off going with factory made ones out of welded steel.

    Now if you really want to make your own bench and use good fir that's great but again please forget Home Depot or Lowes for anything but "dog house" or firewood grade lumber.

    As for ash, that is a good tuff wood. Keyword: baseball bats ... well the good ones anyway.

    You might want to buy a complete kit form work bench. Such comes with everything ready to assemble. Some have legs that are punched for mounting receptacles and you can even get adjustable height legs if you want.
    Last edited by Woussko; 10-06-2008, 11:51 PM.

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    • #3
      Re: Dug Fir Question

      I can't vouch for the quality, but Harbor Freight advertises a 60" 4 drawer oak work bench that looks pretty good. It's item #93454. Might be worth checking out if you have an HF nearby.
      When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

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      • #4
        Re: Dug Fir Question

        Douglas fir is one of the harder soft woods,

        a hard wood and a soft wood, is definition is by the seed type they have, Balsa is a hard wood by classification, (for the most part one can easly determine if one is a hard wood or soft wood by leaf type, if it looses it leaves, it is normally considered a hard wood, if it is a needle type leaf it is normally considered a soft wood,

        so there are a lot of hard wood that is softer then many of the soft woods, and vis versa,

        I think one of the major things and even this does not necessary hold true, is the grain pattern is usaly smaller and more uniform in hard woods,

        but there at one time was train cars full of douglas fir wood flooring made and installed in houses all over the country,

        I at one time got some old bowling alley, the main alley was Douglas fir, the only place it used maple is where the pins set,

        but by going for hard woods you more guaranteed that the product will have been thoroughly dryed before it was milled and stacked, in bunks, to be shipped,

        but as suggested I have used benches with double 3/4" particle board tops and still have a few that are over 30 years old with little worse for wear, (and at one time I built custom cabinets in the shop with my construction business), I think if you have good solid top, and flat and level, you will have little problems,with the bench.

        yes I took the old bowling alley end and made into a wonderful bench and enjoy it a lot, as it is beautiful, and enjoyable to work with, but as far as it goes I really does not do any thing that the particle board benches does not do,

        I have a bench I made when I first started down in the barn made with 2x4, and I drilled through them and used (all thread) as a clamps (still in the wood) then covered the edges to cover up the bolts, (I sawed off the rounded edges and cut the 2x4's in to 1 1/2" so the bench is 1 1/2" thick, and belt sanded it as flat as I could get it).

        but what ever you do get good dry wood, even if you have to buy it and let it set for a few months before using it,
        Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
        attributed to Samuel Johnson
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

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        • #5
          Re: Dug Fir Question

          truly there are two types of benches, one a work platform and a place to put tools that is what I find a modern bench for,

          and there is the old type of hand tool bench,

          where the bench is as much of a tool as any of the tools that one is using,

          in the hand tool days for the most part the wood was stationary and the tool moved, to day with power tools, the opposite is mostly true, the tool is stationary and the wood moves or moves to it, (table saw, planer, sharper/router table, drill press, jointer, and so on).

          so the need for many different holding and clamping devices, to hold the wood to be worked on is not a necessary as when one was using hand tools such as hand saws, planes scrapers, brace and bit, hand drills, and even hammers),

          a old hand bench was many times out fitted with three or four vices and places for bench dogs, and so on, it was the fist and basic tool of the shop,

          now days the bench is not tool (IMO) that it once was, it is more for convenience of work height or to unclutter the table saw, and an assembly location,

          so when building the bench one needs to some what determine the type of bench one wants and needs,

          for and example is a picture of a old time bench and a picture of plans for a simple modern bench from, http://www.woodworkersworkshop.com/w...-plan-5132.php
          old type of bench, not the vices and the supports for long boards and the other holding devices,

          the basic new type,

          some links,
          http://www.woodworkersworkshop.com/r...ex.php?cat=485
          Attached Files
          Last edited by BHD; 10-07-2008, 11:10 AM.
          Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
          attributed to Samuel Johnson
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Dug Fir Question

            Thanks for the info everyone.

            When it comes to HD vs a lumber yard, I would prefer to go to a lumber yard but its not nearly as easy for a number of reasons. Thats why I was curious as to why HD labels their dug fir as "green dug fir". If they mean green in the sense that I know then it would not be good to use (beside the quality factor).

            Like I said, these is more of general purpoe worksurface that I plan to leave when I move out of this house (by the way, I plan to use three sheets of 3/4" for the top). My garage has no counter space and this will really help.

            In a few years I will make a true woodworking bench that will come with me if and when I move. I need to get my skills up first and also the wood alone will cost some bucks (plan to use maple but may go with ash). I kind of view making a bench of this type a right of passage.

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            • #7
              Re: Dug Fir Question

              what the green means is it was surfaced when the moisture content was greater than 19%,

              as to how dry it is now is any ones guess with using a moisture meter on it, the two links below may help you under stand some more about lumber grading and the markings on the lumber and what they mean. (investment of a moisture meter is not a bad Idea if your serious about wood working or buying construction grade for building cabinets and other furniture type work, or buying from local sawmills,

              http://www.kentinternational.ca/broc...er_Grading.pdf

              http://www.umass.edu/bmatwt/publicat...wood_myth.html
              Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
              attributed to Samuel Johnson
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Dug Fir Question

                "Woodworker" painting is timless but for the clamps holding the glue up.
                Steve.

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                • #9
                  Re: Dug Fir Question

                  The pic looks similar to the Steel City advertisement in mags. I always liked it.

                  How did you pick out the clamps? I would have missed them. I wonder what type clamp was used 'back then?'

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Dug Fir Question

                    I cannot answer your "Doug Fir" question. The HDs and Lowes here do not carry it. Most soft woods like fir or pine will stabilize within a couple weeks in your garage or shop to be useable for a stable bench. (If fresh from the sawmill, allow a couple months strapped and stickered). After first milling (ie, planing or jointing), let green lumber set for a couple more days to let the moisture out of the fresh cut surfaces. If you resaw it, you made need to sticker and strap it to prevent warping as the center dries out. Then go to final finish dimensions and assemble as soon as possible thereafter. (Green hardwoods fresh from the sawmill can take up to years to dry, depending on species and thickness).

                    However, as for a workbench, let me throw in my 2 cents worth:

                    A workbench serves two main purposes:
                    1. A platform to put work at a good height, and/or
                    2. A structure to hold vises/clamps/accessories to hold your work.

                    As a platform, it can be just a horizontal surface, or if used for assembly and layout, must be flat and stable. Both can be achieved with a double plywood, MDF, or exterior door top with a good support structure, that can be pine, fir, or hardwood. If flatness is the priority, a torsion box made of cabinet grade plywood is your best. A small face or end vise can be added easily and removed for reinstallation on a replacement top when its needed.

                    As a structure to hold specialty or large vises, etc. (which was the purpose of most of the older "traditional" workbenches), the bench is designed around the vises, is heavy so as not to move when using force, and has a thick top to resist warping, and to support the concentrated side stress through the top from bench dogs and grammercy-type clamps. The need for this type of bench is dependent on the tools and type of work you do. If you use a lot of hand tools for woodworking, this is the type you need, however, the design will depend on how much and what tasks you perform with those hand tools. Most will benefit (power or hand tool) from having a face vise and end vise. Tail, shoulder, and leg vises all benefit those that use the tools for the tasks those are designed to augment, but are not needed by most woodworkers.

                    The amount of time and labor required to make a good vise/bench dog support bench (design again based on the type of vises desired) means that a sacrificial top is no longer economical, so hard wood (and by that I mean Janka hardness like white oak or rock maple), preferable quarter-sawn, and 2+" thick is the best to last long enough to make the effort economical. Most of the older style benches are also rather narrow, both for economy of prime lumber, and for less warping/twisting tendency. The ability to reach fully across the bench into a tool "till" is also a consideration when using hand tools.

                    All that said, the first bench I made and used to build my first cabinets (as well as to overhaul a couple of auto engines) was made from spruce 2 x 4s on edge and held together with threaded rod. The wood moved with the seasons, but it held a vise and put my work at the height I needed. It lasted for over ten years, and then got an old exterior door for a replacement top that lasted another five. Probably the only reason I undertook building a good woodworking bench out of white oak was because I moved, and didn't bring the old one with me. Having built the new one, I would not trade it for the old one, tho!! Love that tail vise and bench dogs on the "new" one.

                    Go
                    Last edited by Gofor; 10-07-2008, 10:36 PM.
                    Practicing at practical wood working

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                    • #11
                      Re: Dug Fir Question

                      For a good flat heavy top I am planning on using a door that was discarded from an industrial building. I can't remeber its dimensions, but it problably is 3.5' x 8' and at least 2" thick. It is solid MDF of some sort with arborite surface. Putting a piece oh hardboard on it will give a good tool friendly surface.
                      It will be heavy enough so that it won't bounce.

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