I Re-Flattened my Workbench
I flattened my workbench top when I finished building it. I touched it up once about a year later because it had developed a slight hollow. It has stayed quite flat since then. When Marc Spagnuolo approached me about helping out with his Guild Roubo build by doing a segment on flattening by hand I thought it wouldn’t hurt to take another look since it has been over a year since the last flattening.
What I found was that really not much movement has happened in the last year but there were certainly a few areas that could stand some attention right where I work the most. I suppose this could a sign of wear but that seems unlikely over such a short time.
Regardless, I grabbed my #7 Jointer plane and went to work. It is really easy to flatten a bench when some time has passed or you have applied a finish. The oxidized and tanned wood shows fresh plane marks clear as day and with only one series of diagonal passes I had a clear topographic “map” of my bench profile. With about 20 minutes of work I have a perfectly flat and clean surface. I concluded the exercise with lengthwise passes with the grain to clean up my diagonal plane tracks. I had even removed a bit of the tear out that occurred during my very first flattening by hitting those surfaces with a Scott Meek Jack plane.
Now my shop feels much brighter. Without the spilled shellac, tools marks, and blood smears the whole bench is practically glowing. Sure it looks nice, but I can’t help but feel like the kids showing up on the basketball court with shiny white sneakers who can’t make a freethrow. Or the fisherman with a fly box full of beautiful flies without a single bit of algae or torn hackle in sight.
I think I’ll go spill some dye and shellac on the surface. I miss my battle scarred and work weary bench.
I think I’ll hold off on the blood, I’m sure that will just happen naturally.