Dare to be Stupid

We all do stupid things from time to time.  Some of us more than others.  The other day I did something stupid.  As you might have noticed my work bench has some holes that go through the top of it.  My workbench is for woodworking though it gets used for everything.  The bench is 4″ thick Southern Yellow Pine and the 3/4″ holes are for using holdfasts or bench dogs.  Well, I also use the holes when driving pins out of things I’m working.  I’ll put the pin over the hole and drive it out of what ever it is in.  The pin goes through the hole and lands on the shelf below.  Works great.
The other day I was doing this very thing when I noticed that this pin sure was taking a while to break loose.  I thought I should see how much of it was left to remove so I moved the part out of the way.  Behold, the pin was out and instead of driving it into the hole, I’d sunk it into the surface of my workbench.  I didn’t get a picture of it but I’m sure you can imagine a wooden surface with a 1/4″ diameter black dot sunk into the surface.  Here’s a picture of the pin.


The pin has to come out of course.  I need it to put back and I don’t want to accidentally hit it with a woodworking tool one day.  The only thing I could do was go after it with chisels until I could put it out with some pliers.  I created a nice ~1 1/4″ mortise into the surface of my bench.  To make it more complicated it connected with one of the bench dog holes because the wood was too thin and broke out.


As I mentioned before, the bench is made out of Southern Yellow Pine, aka Construction Lumber in these parts.  I have a lot of scrap laying around so I found a piece and hand sawed an over sized piece out to fill the hole.


To make the piece fit perfectly, I left it thick and then reduced the thickness of it with my hand plane.  You can sneak up on the right thickness when you’re taking shavings off that are ~0.01″ or less thick.


Here’s the finished piece ready to be glued in. 


I slathered the block with glue and then put it in the pocket.  I tapped it both ways with a hammer to make sure it was tight.  I looked for something to stick in the hole from underneath to put side pressure on it.  After trying several objects, a Sharpie Marker was the perfect fit.  I bet you won’t see that in one of their commercials.  I then clamped it in place to dry overnight.


Here’s a close up of the replacement piece after the glue has dried.


I used a backsaw to remove most of the excess that was above the bench.  I was careful not to make it flush with the bench though.  I wanted to leave it a little proud so I could clean it up with a hand plane.


The next problem is how to restore the hole.  I could drill the hole from above but without a solid surface to drill into, the drill bit would likely walk and mess up the surface.  Another option would be to drill from below but that might result in the top surface of my replacement piece being chipped out at the edge.  Instead, I chose to use the router, which is how I originally made the holes.  The router approach has several advantages.  First, it can be clamped into place and plunged into the surface.  Second, the bit spins so fast that it cleanly cuts the surface.  Finally, it doesn’t need the surface to be intact to avoid the bit walking.


After some time spent making sure the bit was perfectly lined up, I plunged the bit into the surface and cut the new hole.  It worked out well and even left a sharp edge on the replacement block that I had to smooth over with some sand paper.


To clean the block up I pulled out my hand plane and set it for a very light cut.  A few light passes had it flush with the rest of the bench.


Despite what it appears, the replacement wood is the same material as the rest of the bench.  The rest of the bench just has boiled linseed oil and years of grime on it.  I put a coat of boiled linseed oil on it but it’ll probably take years before it starts to fit in with the rest of the bench.  Next time I’ll pay better attention to keep my bench from turning into a checker board.


Good job if you caught the Weird Al reference.

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