When I started working on a bench design, I was all in on Roy Underhill’s french bench that I saw on the Woodwright’s shop and in his book The Woodwright’s Apprentice. For those of you that have never seen this, here is part I of that episode.
I was totally sucked in by the angled legs and the awesome sliding dovetails. But this bench was solving a problem I really didn’t have. It was designed to use a “smaller” solid benchtop when compared to the traditional Roubo-style bench. I was planning on laminating my top, so my benchtop was limited only by my ability to move the glue-up around. Before I recognized this, though, I went ahead and laminated up a top. This was also before I was really committed to handplanes and before I had my dewalt thickness planer. That glue-up was done with the “as-ripped” boards. It turned out OK, at best. Here’s an end pic of that top
These are ripped down 2X6’s and kinda knotty. You can see gaps where the cup in the boards prevented me from clamping them completely closed. But it will work. I glued up the second split top using sections I ripped from a 2X12 and ran through the thickness planer. This top is significantly better than the first one. Both in terms of the quality of the wood and the quality of the layup. After gluing them up, I flattened one side with my jack and jointer and then ran them through my thickness planer. That was fun. Really.