I think the top is stable, and would recommend if you build a bench not to turn up your nose at wood with the pith in. Just be warned that there will be cracks. The cracks are not a problem unless you drop something small like finishing brads on your bench top. They will get lost in there, but structurally they make no difference to the bench.
I figure that while I have extra epoxy, I can just dump it in these cracks, and someday I will have a bench top with no cracks in it.
|Here is my bench top after I poured extra epoxy into some of the cracks.|
|Why three? I'll let you know as soon as I figure it out.|
There was a surprise, in that one of them had a one inch arbor. That means it will fit a modern grinding wheel out of the box. The second one had a 5/8" arbor, and it fit a modern grinding wheel using the plastic bushings that came with it. In the past, I have found hand cranked gridners (including the first of this trio I found) have a 3/8" arbor, and need some real fiddling to make work. I had both of these running new wheels in five minutes flat.
|Lucky me, a one inch arbor.|
|24 grit seems awfully course, but Larry knows his stuff.|
|Everything installed in no time flat.|
This Meda wheel, I have to say, is pretty awesome. The blade never got very hot, and the grinding went very quickly. Definitely an upgrade from my brown Norton wheel (80 grit, I think - maybe 40). The only thing is the grit seems to come off quickly. But, for the price, I think it would be worth burning through these wheels twice as fast.
|Here's my grinding set up using my saw bench.|
With this in mind, I decided to make it flat, but not to waste time making it too smooth.
This was over before I really got a chance to photograph the progress.
I took a big wooden jointer set with a heavy cut, took passes front to back evenly across the grain for the whole length of the bench. Next I took shavings at a 45 degree angle across the top. Last, I went with the grain using a medium cut with my BU jack plane.
|Here is a close up of a crack that has been filled with black epoxy, then planed.|
So far I have yet to put finish on it, and I think I probably never will. Someday I might put a shelf on the bottom. The only thing it really needs is the sliding deadman, which I need about twice a year for the kind of work I do. So far I have gotten away without it. The bench is about 18" deep, maybe a little more, and a little over six feet long. I have upgrades still awaiting for the tail vice, and I have a nicer piece of elm waiting to be installed as a face vice, along with a Benchcrafted CrissCross.