For the past two days I have been jointing and planing 8/4 Ash for the top of my Roubo workbench. The stock I bought from the mill was around 10 feet long and 9 to 10 inches wide. Once I had ripped the boards down the middle using a circular saw it was time to start flattening a face and edge. For all but two of the 4-5 inch wide pieces, I intentionally didn’t cut it down to the 8 foot finished length I will need because I wanted to be able to choose my best 8 foot section once the stock was at the proper thickness. If you have ever bought rough stock you will know that you can find some checking and rounded edges near the ends. Much of this would probably plane away when I ran it through the planer as I was shooting for a finished thickness of 1 3/4 inches so I could get my top completed using only 14 boards.
Great idea in theory, but once you start planing 10 foot long boards on a 6 inch jointer with a 48 inch bed you begin to reexamine that idea. It took some fiddling to get the infeed and outfeed roller stands to just the right height but once I did I was able to get good results. That’s not to say this still isn’t tiring. Ash is very heavy and 8/4 Ash is even heavier when it is in 10 foot lengths. I took anywhere from 4-6 passes on the face of each of the 14 boards and about the same number of passes on the edges of all the boards.
I am very tired, but oh so happy. This is really straight grain stock and it will make an excellent top for many many years to come. The two boards that I was able to cut down to about 8 1/2 feet were the last two to cross the jointer and the ease with which I was able to work with them was astounding. It is amazing what that extra 2 feet does to make a board unwieldly!
The real hero of the day is my little Grizzly 6″ jointer. I tuned her up before this project and she just hummed her way through this stock and never once complained.
After I finished the top boards I jointed a few of the shorter (55″ and 19″) stretchers and the ease with which I was able to get a true edge with a board length more appropriate to this tool reaffirmed my faith in the purchase I made several years ago. I think this is the first project where I have tried to joint a board this long and it makes me glad to know that probably 19 out of 20 furniture projects have parts less than 48″.
As a parting shot here is my dust collection bag. You will notice the red mahogany strata as the last project I built before starting this bench. That’s a whole lotta Ash!