I have been woodworking for almost 35 years. And I guess it is an accomplishment to have so many years of woodworking behind me; all the mistakes, successes and such. But even though I am becoming a woodworking old-timer, there are so many new things I have been trying that in many ways I am a newbie.
For example, after finishing all of the construction steps needed to complete my workbench I had to take it apart (see the photo at the top of this post) and make the all important decision about what protective finish is appropriate for this bench. After much consideration, I went with three different finishes, each one being something I had never worked with before.
The bench top got a coat of boiled linseed oil. The leg assembly was treated with several coats of wax and the oak components (front and rear stretchers, gap stop and wedges) were fumed with ammonia and then got one coat of garnet shellac. Never before worked with BLO, same for waxed bare wood and then fuming oak and top coating with shellac was something I have always wanted to try. Notes on each…
- BLO: Man this stuff has a deep amber tone. I don’t know why I was surprised by this, but I was. My creamy white ash is no longer. But, the BLO added a rustic quality that I really like and my wife likes the way my workbench smells.
- Wax: I put multiple coats of wax on the leg structure which is all cedar. This cedar quickly absorbed the wax. I am pleased with the results because I wanted a finish that didn’t drastically change the cedar color. Mission accomplished – the cedar has a slightly darker look; the grain has been enhanced in a pleasing way and it was very easy to apply. And my wife likes the way my workbench smells.
- Fumed and shellac oak: This was a great experiment. I committed to doing this because the oak is mostly quarter-sawn with some great ray flake and I wanted to see if I could achieve an Arts and Crafts look. Mission accomplished here too, but I was hesitant because ammonia is considered a very harsh chemical and while I did take precautions, I also got a couple of brief whiffs of the ammonia and it is truly something to use with total respect. The shellac was easy to apply and looks great (and doesn’t detract from how great the bench smells).
I got all of this completed this past week and got the workbench set up late Sunday evening and took these photos this morning with my iPhone.
So, the workbench itself is finished. I still plan to make a tool cabinet to sit on the front and rear stretchers and will treat it as a separate project. I will also make an assortment of bench accessories many based on this video from Fine Woodworking’s Mike Pekovich.
For now, I am going to enjoy looking at what will become the workbench I’ll use for the rest of my life.
* * * * *
Have a question or comment about this post? Leave me a comment below; but I also like email. Use my contact form to send me an email (click here).