With the kitchen remodel finally done, I was looking forward to getting back in the shop. Thinking about what my next project would be I remembered how much I wished I had been able to do some woodworking during our recent camping trip to Tucson. I had such a great time woodworking while camping at Trillium Lake last fall, I want to do it more. Then it hit me: I wanted to build a combination portable work bench and tool chest that would fit snugly in our SUV along with our dog, camping gear and everything else we travel with. Now, some of my brainstorms work out and some are flops, which is part and parcel of creativity, but I have a very good feeling about this one.
The first issue was what material to use. I wanted to use douglas-fir, but most of what you find around here is days from harvest and so green it literally drips. The big boxes sell kiln dried 2x material as "whitewood" so they can use different species. Usually it is hemlock, which is unsuitable for a workbench, but I checked and it happened to be douglas-fir that day. I sorted through the pile and found half a dozen studs that were sorta rift sawn and had clear sections. So, together with scraps left over from the kitchen remodel, I had my materials for a grand total of less than $18.
The first step was laminating the top. I settled on a length of 34 inches and the width of four 2x4s, which turned out to be 13 inches after jointing off the rounded edges. At this point I got a nice surprise. In the past I have flattened panels with a jack plane, but a while back I heavily cambered the blade of an extra #4 to make it a dedicated scrub plane. This was the first time I had used it and I couldn't believe how much easier it was.
I was able to flatten both sides in about twenty minutes and, after smoothing it out with old #7 I had a top that is a strong 1 3/8" thick:
Now I need a base that will also function as a case for the toolbox.