Well after letting the wood acclimate and dry in my shop for about a month, I finally had the time to assemble the top. I took each board and planed them down to 1 1/4″ thick. Be prepared to have a boat load of shavings coming from your planer. I ended up filling four garbage cans with planer shavings. After surface planing, I straightened the boards the best I could with my transitional jointer. The boards were just too long for me try to joint them over my 6″ motorized jointer so I clamped each one to the bench and did it with a hand plane. It didn’t take that long at all and honestly I wasn’t looking for a perfectly straight edge anyway. I just wanted to get rid of the crook in the board so I could rip them to size on the tablesaw. After each board was ripped to 4 1/4″ wide, I laminated them into sections using five boards per section. The shorter part of the bench was laminated with seven boards.
After each section was dry, I ran them through the surface planer and planed them to 4″ thick. Then I glued two sections together. After that section dried, I glued the third. Then when that dried I glued the forth (you get the idea). I did my best to dry fit and line up the sections to minimize any hand planing once the top was formed. However, even after all the careful planning, I still ended up with an 1/8″ bow in my top. I’m not entirely sure why that was but if I had to guess, I say the bowing of my pipe clamps played a part. I’ve always heard of the limitations of pipe clamps and I think I found one of them. Clamping this massive behemith of a top was no easy task. I had to apply an extreme amount of pressure to get each section to bond tightly with one another. It was times like these where I wished I owned twice the amount of pipe clamps!
Once the top was glued together I grabbed my Stanley No 8C jointer and No 5C fore plane and went to town. I planed across and diagonal to the grain to level out the top as easily as possible. The 5C worked well to remove a lot of stock quickly. The No 8 was effective in leveling the high and low spots. Periodically I would check my progress with a straight edge (the side of my No 8 plane) and plane where necessary. I also used winding sticks to make sure the top did not twist from one end to the other. It took me an hour and forty five minutes to plane down the entire top but the funny thing was that I actually enjoyed all the planing.
Next I’ll make the legs and build the frame. I’ll keep you posted.