After getting the parts laminated, the first step is to cut and form the rear legs of the bench. These have an 11 degree bend to support the back of the bench so the rear legs start out as a pretty big chunk of wood. I used masking tape so I could see the markings and also to minimize indenting the soft cedar.
All the joinery is mortise and tenon. I have never cut a mortise or a tenon, so I was excited to try. Here is a photo getting ready to drill the first tenon. My counter top drill press wasn’t big enough to host the forstner bit, the wood, and the table. So I had to come up with a jig that replaced the drill press table. You can see how things are arranged in the photo below. The mortise wasn’t the prettiest thing, but after a total of 3 for each rear leg, I learned a few things. The first and foremost is that a soft wood like cedar isn’t the best place to start. I’m pretty happy with how they all turned out. I am pretty sure that the faces are flat, smooth and close to square. I can’t guarantee that they are all the exact same size, so I will custom cut the tenons to match.
I used my little bandsaw to do the rough cuts and then my belt sander to finalize it down to the line. I am pretty sure that this would have been the perfect application for a hand plane, but I don’t have one yet. So I think I got pretty close with what I have.
I planned things out to avoid most of the knots, but I wasn’t completely successful. I couldn’t work around a knot that ended up near the middle of one of the legs. (I think it will be hidden by some the seat slats, but we will see.) The knot was a little loose, so I mixed some 5-minute epoxy up with some fine cedar sawdust and filled the voids around the knot.
Here is the knot all sanded down to be smooth with the finish. I had only read about this technique before and am pleased with the results.
I have now two back legs complete with all the mortises cut, the edges rounded over, and finish sanding complete. (I do have a pair, you will have to trust me) I also completed the front legs which are a much simpler version of the back legs.