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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.

Freshly flattened workbenchWhat 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.

Roubo bench topNow 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.

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