I'm just finishing up gluing up a 5'x2'x2 1/2" maple butcher block top for a workbench. My plan was to scrape and plane the top and then take it somewhere to have it run through a wide drum sander to get it perfectly flat. Unfortunately, the best I found was a cabinet shop that will do it (under duress) for $100. The person I talked to said he would recommend putting the money towards a 4x24 belt sander and doing it by hand. The problem I have with this is that the prices on these seem to run around $250, and I would prefer to put that cash towards a higher utilized power tool like a drill press. Do you think that a smaller sander would do the job and still be useful for other future projects? I see Makita has a 3x18 sander for about $99.
Also, any recommedations on attaching the top to the base? My initial thought was to use some type of L bracket with elongated holes for the top to move as it expands/contracts.
My first question would be: Why would you scrape and plane the surface and then sand it? Personally, my feeling towards belt sanders is that they are for "roughing out" at best, certainly not for finish work.
Leveling a Maple work bench top is part of normal "maintenance" and is done with bench planes and winding sticks, so unless you plan on replacing it every 5 years I'd suggest that you learn how to level it with planes...
As to the leg attachment; depends on the design of the base it sits on. Is it a trestle base, rail/stretcher, or what?
But if you're going to buy the tool Black and Decker makes (?made?) a 4X24 hand-held belt sander for about $50. I picked one up at Lowes about a year back. I probably would have opted for the Bosch, PC or other name brand if I was doing woodwork for a living, but this is a hobby.
I have a belt sander, and it gets lots of use, but not on my classic woodworking. One of the best uses for it would be to rough stock to close to s scribbed line to match a wall to a cabinet. I use the sander to get close then a block plane to go to the line. I used it on a play structure I built to chafor ends and edges of 2x material.
But, long a go when I didn't know better I used one on a table top. Had to remake the table top. A belt sander can destroy more than any other tool you could buy. There is a real technique to use it right and it takes a while to learn how not to destroy your work.
Thanks all for the feedback. The thought was that I would scrape and plane to remove the glue, since I doubt anyone would touch it the way it is now, as well as to get it somewhat level. I don't have a lot of experience with planes and definitely not with a belt sander, and the thought of putting it through a machine and coming out with a perfect top was appealing ;). I'll go ahead and start the process and see how it goes (probably should have waited until I did that before the questions). I had actually planned on using a block plane for the ends, but maybe that would be a good place to use a belt sander! It should be a good experience no matter the outcome.
As for the base, I plan on using a rail/stretcher design. pine 4x4's and 4x8's.
As to mounting the top; you'll need to install at least 3 bearer rails. One at each end and one in the center. They should be joined to the rails by a single carcase dovetail, glued, and screwed. The bearer rails should have slotted holes orientated cross grain to the top, then use screws to secure the top to the bearer rails from underneath.
If your block plane is a low angle, end grain work is what it was designed for...FWIW.
P.S. Edit: I'd recommend against using a plane to remove glue squeeze out, you'll end up knicking the iron and run the risk of tear out...
I'm still hung up on the 100 bucks for the sandin. That seems pretty high. The place out here was more concerned about glue gumming up there belt sander and the possibility of metal lodged in the wood. Once I scraped and assured them the wood was bought (from them :)) they passed it through there sander no problem. Do you have a woodworkers source or woodcraft nearby that might be able to help out?
The plans I drew up have an upper and lower rail mortise/tennoned into the legs with 4x8 strechers that are tennoned and also held to the legs with bolts so that they can be removed. When you say bearer rails, do they go longways/parallel to the strecher, or front to back? and if front to back, what supports the middle rail?
Not sure if the block plane I have is low angle. The iron is beveled at 25 degrees, but I can't get an accurate measurement on the bed angle. It's a cheap Sears from a few years back (pre-forum days), has England and CF-14 on bed and CF-2 on the lever cap (I think, bad casting).
Ray, Woodcraft was the first place I asked, but they don't have anything that wide. I'm out in VA, no Woodworkers Source out here.
I'll let you know how it works out.
Bearer rails are used to affix a top to a carcase, or in this case, a frame, and they would be orientated cross wise. The two end bearer rails lie next to the side rail. Assumining that the top edges of the rails are flush with the tops of the legs, they would be joined to the legs by a carcase dovetail as mentioned above, the middle bearer rail is joined to the front and back rails using the same joint. The bearer rails lie "on the flat". I'd recommend using 4/4 stock 3" wide. They are "supported" by the joint and don't carry any load, that is carried by your rails and legs, the stretcher serves to stiffen against any lateral (racking) forces. It's because of those forces that I recommended gluing and screwing the joint. A single #8 or #10 1 1/2" wood screw (counter sunk) should suffice through the tail.
As to your block plane; don't know what to tell you other than maybe [link:www.woodworking.com/dcforum/dcboard.pl?az=read_count&om=1259&forum=DCForumID4| this] might help.
Thanks Dano. I think my confusion was because I didn't plan to use upper rails across the width (upper stretchers?). While trying to find an example to reference, I came across this: http://www.diynet.com/DIY/article/0,2058,7749,00.html
This is pretty much what I had in mind, but using glued-up 2x4's (4x4)for the legs, top side rails and middle side rails and using a pair of 2x8's glued up (4x8) for front and rear stretchers. I may need to rethink the top side rail thickness if I need to dovetail in the bearer rails. I guess the frame really isn't so big that I need to worry about being able to disassemble, especially if you think that it would be a lot sturdier adding the upper rails and middle bearer rail. Wouldn't these get in the way when needing to clamp to the top?
And on the block plane -- is it recommended to not microbevel the iron to keep the angle lower?
Sorry, I know this is just a bench, but......