Now that the top is done, it’s time to start the legs and stretchers. I wanted real thick and sturdy legs, so I’m going for 5” square. Prior to starting this project, I had never done any real lamination work. I’ve glued boards together before, end-to-end, to make wider planks. But that material was only 1/2” thick. I never did anything this big before, but this whole lamination thing seemed pretty easy in concept. Sure enough, it wasn’t too bad. Now that I’m done with the top, I’m quite confident in my laminating skills. So I was planning on the legs being a walk in the park. One thing I didn’t realize was how much volume wood chips from planing and jointing take up. I have a Jet 1.5 HP dust collector. I’ve had the thing for two years, and have only changed the bag once prior to this project. But up until now, it has only had to consume saw dust – no planing/jointing chips. Since I started this project, I’ve already fill up two bags, and I’m about halfway into a third. Nuts.
Anyway, after some more relatively monotonous jointing, planing, gluing, clamping and waiting, the rough legs were done.
After yet MORE jointing and planing, and cutting the tops and bottoms on the miter saw, the legs are all sized to final dimensions – exactly 5” square.
I’m going to be using drawbored mortis and tenons to join the legs to the top. The tenons on the tops of the legs will be 2 1/2” long. I set up a stop block on my crosscut sled, and set the blade height to my desired shoulder depth, then ran the fronts and backs of each leg through.
After making all the shoulder cuts, I adjusted the crosscut sled stop block and blade height, and then made the cheek cuts.
As I mentioned in the inaugural post to this blog series, I didn’t own planes other than a cheap Stanley block plane, and the Lie-Nielsen adjustable mouth low angle block plane. But after reading Chris Schwarz’s workbench book, I became very inspired to get into doing more work by hand…which is largely why I decided to build this bench. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been all over eBay and Craigslist looking for great condition Lie-Nielsen planes. I figured a shoulder plane, a #4 or # 4 1/2 smoother and a #7 jointer – in addition to my low angle block plane – should meet the vast majority of my planing needs. I think I’ll eventually need (i.e. want really bad) a low angle jack plane, but not immediately. At least, I don’t think I’ll need it to build this bench. But I know I’m going to need a shoulder plane, smoother and jointer to properly finish this bench.
I was able to win myself a barely used Lie-Nielsen large shoulder plane on eBay a few days ago. It showed up today, and I put it to use right away. After I made all the cuts for the tenons, I had to neaten up the corners a little bit…the perfect task for the shoulder plane. Worked like a gem.
The legs are done for now. After I make all the stretchers, which will join to the legs via drawbored mortis and tenons as well, I will then have to mortis out the legs. But for now, there is nothing else I can do with the legs at the moment.
Next I’ll tackle the stretchers. I plan on putting tongue and groove decking on the stretchers to make a shelf on the bottom. And I originally wasn’t going to make a sliding deadman. However, after some thought, I figured it would be cool to make and convenient to have, even if I don’t use it much. So I’ll have to incorporate these things into the stretchers accordingly. See you next post. Thanks for reading along so far.
-- Andy Panko, Edison NJ