How to flatten an uneven workbench top
Repeat this procedure at three evenly spaced locations along the length of the bench as shown in photo E, below. These cuts confirm that you adjusted the router bit to the correct depth. Adjust the bit for a deeper cut if it passes over any areas without removing stock. If the router bogs down during these cuts, switch to a smaller bit or a more-powerful router.
Now, measure the width of any of your four router cuts. Subtract 1/4" from your measurement and use this figure to space out marks along the length of each carrier guide. For instance, our router cuts were 2 1/4" wide, so we made marks every 2". Use these marks in the following step to guide your placement of the router carrier so your cuts overlap by 1/4".
Next, flatten the entire top by starting at either end of the bench and making router passes in increments along its length. For consistently deep cuts you must clamp the router carrier for each router cut. You can speed things along by having a helper reposition and reclamp one end of the router carrier while you clamp the other end and operate the router.
As you approach each of your initial, spaced-apart cuts, check to see that your cutting depth ahs not changed. If it changes, the bit or motor housing is slipping up or down, and you will need to fix the problem. In working on the benchtop shown here, we were tripped up by the brand-new router we were using. Factory lubrication open the outside of the motor housing was causing the housing to slip, even though we tightened the base securely. So, we cleaned the motor housing and base with mineral spirits, then started the routing process over again. Another lesson learned the hard way!
The final touches No matter how careful you were to clamp the router carrier and put minimum downward force on the router, you will still wind up with fine ridges where one router pass meets the other. Fortunately, you can quickly smooth away these ridges while keeping your bench flat.
As shown in the photo F, below, we lowered the ridges with a cabinet scraper and followed this with a light sanding using a random-orbit sander. Be careful to remove the ridges and no more.
Written by Bill Krier with Chuck Hedlund Photographs: John Hetherington Illustrations: Kim Downing
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