And now...something completely different!
Ok, not really...
With the front slab tenon done, it's all about the end cap. Unfortunately for me my local lumber supplier doesn't carry anything over 8/4...why? I think its to spite me because I must be their only customer that ever asks for it because I always get the same exasperated answer of nooooo 8/4 is all we have unless you're going to place a custom order of over 500bf...Trust me, I considered it...but then what would I do with 500+bf of 12/4 hard maple? Ok that's what my wife said...my answer was something more along the lines of what wouldn't I do with 500+bf of 12/4 hard maple? I mean really...the options at that point are limitless.
So the end cap began life as 2 pieces of 8/4 hard maple...I simply rummaged through my cutoffs from the pieces I used to mill up the slabs and pulled out two pieces with the clearest and straightest grain. My thought process was that the end cap potentially could see the most force of anything on the bench as it houses the tail vice. I didn't want to risk a wavy piece here, especially where I was having to laminate it from two pieces. I must admit that I nearly committed a "Mr. Cock-up" here. As I was milling the pieces in prep of getting them laminated together I nearly milled them to final dimensions....yeah that could have been exciting as anyone that has ever laminated two pieces of wood together can attest that their likelihood of slipping past one another and creating a lip on one edge is invariably guaranteed when you absolutely can't afford for it to happen. Thankfully I realized this as I was about to pass the pieces through the planer for a last pass or so and was able keep enough stock in place to negate any possible slippage.
While the end cap cooked happily away under as many clamps as I could squeeze onto it I turned my attention to the screw cavity. As I was laying out the cavity I kept having this sneaky little voice pop up in my head and whisper that something was wrong...what the hell am I missing? I kept stepping away from the slab and my markings only to return to them to check and recheck each one was correct. I did this for probably 30 minutes before I realized that what was wrong wasn't with the slab or the end cap...it was simply a matter of not having enough tool length...I know...I had to say it...in reality I'm still 12 years old...
I couldn't believe what I was seeing...had I really overlooked something as simple as making sure that down cut spiral bit I had planned on using was long enough to reach the bottom of the screw cavity, especially with that extra 5/8" added in for good measure? I had...after chucking the bit into my router at the absolute threshold that I comfortably would accept a chunk of high speed steel sharpened to a razors edge spinning at 25K RPM at, I found it to be short...nearly 3/4" short. Ahhhh Hell!!!
The joy of living where I do is that I can't simply hop into the truck and head down to the local tool supply store and pick up a new bit...nooooo that would be convenient and I seem to thrive in living in a location where everything is absolutely inconvenient. So off to the internets I go in search of my next tool purchase. After all...everyone wishes they could get an extra inch...yeah...there's that 12 yr old again...sorry...
Fast forward 96 hours and this is what I have: A shiny new Eagle America, triple flute, 1/2" x 4" down cut spiral bit. Why 96 hours and not something like 48 or 24? Well I will admit that this is actually the 2nd bit that I ordered. The first was my preference...a Whiteside bit that I picked up off of Amazon...but the company I bought it through didn't understand my desire to get the bit and get my butt back to work...as such their shipping time was like 10 days...yeah...thanks guys...Anyway the Eagle America bit performed beautifully. It sliced through the hard maple like butta baby and was actually a very stable and chatter free bit...but more on that in a few.
While I waited for the man in brown to grace me with my salvation I turned my attention back to the end cap. Fresh out of the clamps I finished milling it to size and got to work on laying out the mortise. I'm not sure why...but I stopped at laying out the mortise. Call it gun shy about the router bit or whatever but for some reason I couldn't pull the trigger until I was ready to rout the screw cavity.
With my shiny new bit in had I finally got down to the nitty gritty of clearing out the screw cavity.
I milled up a 2"x6" piece of fir, running it through the jointer and planer to give me 2 flat edges to register off of. With this in place I got to work hogging out that chunk of material. After my first 2 passes I felt something strange with my plunge base...it was as if the plunge setting lost all of its plunge and was just floating around even with the lock lever in place. In this momentary lapse of concentration I must have tipped the router just a hair into my fir support and in doing so experienced what I call router kick back causing the router to jump a bit. I'm not sure how all of this happened but as the router jumped the plunge base sort of disintegrated/blew up...ultimately sending the base half way across the shop while I hung onto the router for dear life. Thankfully I instinctively spun the router bit away from my body and into the air as I simultaneously flipped the power switch...I know this sounds like a lot is happening but in looking back at it, it lasted all of a second or two.
You can see in the picture above the moment that the router disintegrated in my hands. The better piece of this is that the fir support actually acted like a fence of sorts and probably kept the router from coming out of the piece towards my body. After the dust settled and I was able to begin to piece things together all I can figure is that the tension pin that holds the plunge base onto the plunge mechanism of Hitachi routers fell out (I found it in the sawdust just to the left of the chewed up wood in the pic above) causing the base to become unstable and must have resulted in an off camber situation that led to the kickback.
After I calmed down and changed my underwear I got back to it...this time with a borrowed older Porter Cable that honestly worked like a dream...well that is other than its deafening roar.
With the cavity cleared out all that was left was to clean up the end of it and get to fitting the end cap. I took a few chops at the end of the cavity to clean it up and square off the rounded inside corner and all was hunky dory.
After dry fitting the end cap and being happy with the overall fit I marked it up for the vise and started drilling holes.
The end cap actually took far less time than I had expected. After the holes were drilled in the end cap I was able to lay out the bolt holes in the slab and got them drilled and squared off to accept the nuts and actually installed the end cap and vise screw for the first time. I swear it was like Christmas...things were actually looking and feeling like a bench now....
I did throw the nut block onto the screw just to give me that extra bit of....ohhh look, it's a vise....and noticed that with the extra thickness in the slab I was going to have to remove a bit of material from the bottom in order to allow the nut block plate clearance to travel the full depth of the cavity. Rather than spend too much time on this now I opted to wait for the dog strip and front strip to get glued into place to aid in determining exactly what would need to come out.
Up next...Who Let the DOGS OUT!!!
Total Build Time:
- 1.5 hours (lumber selection, transport & stacking)
-4 hours (Top Slab milling)
- 1.5 hours (slab prep and glue up*)
-0.5 hours (preliminary flattening of both slabs)
-0.5 hours (Final rough slab milling)
-0.5 hours (trimming end and bringing into flat & square)
-1 hour (cutting and finishing tenon)
-0.5 hours (milling and laminating end cap)
-2.5 hours (milling screw cavity support & routing screw cavity - includes markup/layout)
-0.5 hours (routing mortise in end cap)
-0.5 hours (fine tune end cap fit)
-2 hours (drilling and installing end cap - includes markup/layout)
-15.5 hours total
*I havent included my clamp time in these figures if you want to add those figures in, each slab sat for 24 hours each