Workbench Build #39: Stretchers and Shelf

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Blog entry by Airframer posted 08-16-2013 08:11 AM 1813 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 38: Final Assembly of the Top... Part 39 of Workbench Build series Part 40: Leg Vise #1.. Started the Chop... »

Now that I have a list I suppose I have no excuse not to at least attempt to finish this thing. So this week I got started on list item #1… The stretchers.

I had originally planned to build them out of the same ceder that the legs are made from but changed my mind in the name of weight and durability.

So I rummaged through my pile of oak cut offs left from the top and found a slab just the right length for the long stretchers. I figured I would figure out what to do about the short ones once I got to that point.

So I cut that to length and ripped it in half with my circular saw (yes I have a few galoot deductions in thsi blog.. I’ll do a few extra laps at PT next week as my penance) giving me 2 pieces roughly 2” x 3 1/2” .. basically an oak twobafore.

Then I started cleaning them up and getting them 4 square. I started out like this using my saw bench to hold it steady..

At which point I looked to my left at a standing wood working bench with a functional wagon vise and smacked myself in the face lol…. WHAT WAS I DOING?

So I moved the wood to the bench and clamped a stop block on the bench and went to town. This was the first time using this as an actual bench and NOW I see what all the fuss is about! I can honestly say that if not for the fact that I needed these to be as big as they were I probably wouldn’t have stopped planing them lol.

I would also like to add that the wagon vise performed beautifully!

Once those were good to go fun time was over and it was time to flip the bench.. again. This is becoming less and less easy and fun with each flip ugh..

then I measured the stretchers to the legs while they were installed. I have read enough bench build blogs to note this method as the best way to make sure everything lines up.

Then I went about cutting and chopping the M/T joints one at a time each being fit individually. This took place over about 3 workdays. Spent a few hours before and after work getting these done and they each got better than the first (maybe I should just start on the last one next time lol)..

Then came the short stretchers. As was noted in an earlier blog my back legs go through the top at an angle but the front legs go through straight. This was an oversight on my part which would make mating the base to the top almost impossible with a traditional stretcher configuration. Someone suggested some half lap dovetailed stretchers and I liked that idea. One it moves them out of the way of the leg vise’s parallel guide and the front and back legs can be installed separately then connected by the short ones after installation.

This though.. presented it’s own challenges. I am just about out of oak and I needed 2 more stretchers lol. I have always planned on using a couple oak stair treads from HD for the shelf on the base. They are flat, a full inch thick and actually cheaper than the oak lumber they sell. So me and the boy took another field trip to HD and picked those up. After measuring them I figured out that after trimming them to fit I would have enough left over for my stretchers.. boom.. bonus!

I still need to dowel and glue that up but that can wait..

First things first was to make sure the legs were equidistant from each other and measure out the short stretchers.

Once that was done I laid out and cut the tails then clamped and transferred them to the legs for the pins..

Broke out the Moxon for this duty..

Cut the edges with my HF flush cut saw then again lost some galoot points by using my drill press and a forstner bit to clean out the waste in the pins.

After that was done I used the same saw to cut up to the two outside edges. This made for a very clean bit of dovetailing lol..

Test fit went good so I proceeded on the other side.. I did have one incident with a forstner bit gite on the front of the one of the front legs (of course.. ). But it just gives it some character and should clean up decently I think.

Then I doubled up the side stretchers.. I really need some smaller F clamps..

And here we are.. one item off the list.

(The short ones haven’t been glued yet in this pic..)

Goal for this weekend is to get the leg vise fully installed, base installed and top flat. We shall see just how much of that actually happens.

Thanks for reading the rather long winded post … in an even more long winded blog!

-- Eric - "I'm getting proficient with these hand jobbers. - BigRedKnothead"

5 comments so far

View Mosquito's profile


9304 posts in 2289 days

#1 posted 08-16-2013 12:29 PM

Very nice. It’s lookin’ pretty good!

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View theoldfart's profile


9699 posts in 2448 days

#2 posted 08-16-2013 12:53 PM

Scary good progress Eric. Forstner over bit & brace? negative galootness!

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Don W's profile

Don W

18711 posts in 2564 days

#3 posted 08-16-2013 01:51 PM

You just keep plugin. It’s great!

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3148 days

#4 posted 08-16-2013 04:30 PM

Great progress Eric!

Now I see why you used the forstner bit, to get a consistent depth. It’s just that you missed out on some fun by sawing and splitting out all that waste with a chisel and mallet. ;-)

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View lysdexic's profile


5254 posts in 2619 days

#5 posted 08-17-2013 01:43 AM

Impressive sir.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

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