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This should make a nice lathe bench top

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  • This should make a nice lathe bench top

    A buddy of mine got this from a restaurant that was remodeling, They were throwing it away. I was over at his house this morning, asked about it, and he said I could have it. Solid oak 2" butcher block. Years of oil and fat soaked in. Going to use it at a bench top for a 9" South Bend lathe. Not bad for free.



  • #2
    Nice score, you sure that's Oak ? The end grain looks more like Ash to me.

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    • #3
      Looks good. That, like my bowling alley section will benefit from placement on solid, straight supports across each end and only anchored on the lengthwise centerline of the slab to prevent it from bowing or cracking. Judging from the end grain, there will be dimensional change in width as temperature and humidity change. There will be little change in length at all. Should make a fine bench.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jcfx View Post
        Nice score, you sure that's Oak ? The end grain looks more like Ash to me.
        Heavy and hard, I assumed it was oak.

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        • #5
          more likely maple...

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          • #6
            usually they are made of a close grain wood like maple

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            • #7
              Are you going to rejuvenate it at all? My main concern is about the potential for things to grow on it. I would at least take it down maybe 20 thou with a belt sander- that will give you some idea of how you might want to refinish it.

              Do you want to cover it with sheet metal? If so you could cut out or route out a section of the board, then roll the sheet metal down into it to form a sump. This could be simply a hollow section, narrow but long to suit the lathe bed. With the sheet metal wrapped around the top, rolling the center section into the hollow is not particularly difficult. Nice to have a catch for cutting fluids.

              If you just want to clean it up a bit and use it as is, fine. It looks a little busy to me- I don't know that I'd want that distraction. Try to find small parts that you accidently drop- Could be a very nice looking piece though. If you're going to cover it, nothing is going to want to stick to it, hence the sheet metal top idea.

              How do you plan to mount the lathe to it? You might want to have the lathe up a little, off the surface, just to give more clearance to work around it to collect swarf, etc. If you do, that gives you a way to extend the footprint of the lathe bed to suit the width of your slab. Three pieces of square tubing, two under the headstock and one under the tail, lathe bolted securely to them, then this laid on the slab and bolted up from the bottom. A piece of angle iron underneath at each location gives you a way to pinch the slab into a tight union with the lathe bed- and gives you a way of shimming to get the lathe levelled. At the same time, the angle iron underneath gives you a location to attach support structure to.

              Just some ideas.
              I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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              • #8
                Nice! according to the South Bend manuals, that was the original style of bench top they recommended back in the day.

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                • #9
                  Also, if it's twice as wide as you need, you could cut it in half lengthwise and double the thickness to make it even more solid..
                  "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jmm03 View Post
                    more likely maple...
                    Possibly American Beech (fagus rotundifolia), European Beech is the choice for butcher's blocks in my neck of the woods...

                    Dave H. (the other one)
                    Rules are for the obedience of fools, and the guidance of wise men.

                    Holbrook Model C Number 13 lathe, Testa 2U universal mill, bikes and tools

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                    • #11
                      It's certainly not oak. Oak has that really strong open pore look to the hard parts of the growth rings. Soaks stuff up in those pores. So oak is a terrible cutting board option. It'll be one of the other woods mentioned. I suspect it's not maple or not the regular cabinet making maple because of the strong colour difference in the growth rings. A lot of maples have a more muted grain colour variation.

                      As wood bench tops go it'll be really nice. And yeah, it's pretty darn wide. But then that may be what you need if your motor drive is off the back as on a lot of the bench top SB9's. Still, measure it all up and if you can afford to make it at least a little more narrow you could slice off a piece and use it to make riser blocks for the ends and give you a little more room to slip a chip tray under the machine.

                      In terms of the small tolerances for flexing in our machines wood is able to flex about as well as cotton candy by comparison. So you'll still want a good sturdy and rigid support for the top. And heavy seems to be good too. Heavier tops (you've got that part) attached correctly to good stiff heavy bases aid with altering the damping characteristics so the lathes tend to chatter a lot less on cuts that are chatter prone.... like parting off for example. And it's just that much better when you stock it with all your tooling and accessories so it doesn't blow away .
                      Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                      • #12
                        Let's see what it looks like with a bit of sanding done to it- I'm curious as to what wood it is. It could be maple, but the look is deceiving. If you don't want to sand it, fine.
                        I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                        • #13
                          It will need several heavy section cross members screwed underneath it before you put a lathe on it.

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                          • #14
                            I'm tending to agree with having cross members- that's partly why I suggested raising the lathe using square tubing cross members, plus some crosswise pieces of angle underneath. You can bolt up from the bottom and not see the bolt ends, plus you can oversize the bolt holes in the wood so it has a chance to shrink without splitting.
                            I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                            • #15
                              Why would you waste a good bench top under a lathe? Use it for a bench!

                              my opinion of course

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