I wanted to make the bench’s stretchers as proportionately beefy as the top and legs. Since my legs are 5” square, I figured it would work well, and look good, to make the stretchers about 3 1/2” high, and about 2 1/2” thick. So I had to AGAIN joint, plane, glue, clamp and wait some more. I’ve been getting kind of bored of doing glue-ups, so I’m glad this was the last laminating I’ll have to do on this project. I want to integrate 3/4” thick tongue and groove boards on the stretches to turn them into a shelf below the bench. So in the process of laminating the stretchers together, I made a 3/4” deep rabbet along the length of each. I also decided that I want to incorporate a removable sliding deadman along the front of the bench. I planned it like the Roubo in Schwarz’s book – the bottom of the sliding deadman will have a concave mitered slot that will sit on top of, and ride along, a corresponding convex mitered edge along the top of the front stretcher. Before I laminated together the two boards to make the front stretcher, I cut the deadman track on my table saw.
I then did the rough glue-ups of each stretcher.
Since the deadman is going to slide on a simple wood-on-wood track system, I figured now would be a good time to make sure the deadman guide on top of the front stretcher is as true and smooth as possible. As I mentioned in the last blog entry, I’ve been looking for good used Lie-Nielsen planes on eBay and Craigslist over the last couple of weeks. I was lucky enough to find on Craigslist an unused #4 smoother, in bronze, from a guy a half hour away from me. I picked it up yesterday morning, and used it last night to smooth the deadman track on the top of the stretcher. It’s sort of funny – in order to plane the this piece, I really could have used a bench with dog holes to hold the material. However, I don’t have a bench, which is why I’m doing this project in the first place… Using a few clamps as a makeshift planing stop, and my table saw outfeed table as a bench top, I was able to get the job done. I did a few passes with my new plane, and the track/top of the stretcher was as smooth as glass.
I then cut each stretcher to length on the miter saw. The next step was to cut the tenons on the ends of each stretcher. I set up my dado stack, adjusted the depth of cut and rip fence accordingly, and started cutting the cheeks and shoulders. Dadoed one side, flipped it and dadoed the other side, and then flipped it again and dadoed the tops. I had to change the depth of the dado blades at each flip since I wanted/needed different depths on each side of the stretchers.
All said and done, I ended up with nice chunky tenons.
After making all the cuts on each piece, the four stretchers were done.
At this point, I definitely have the end of the project within my sight. Not that I’m wishing it was over – I’m enjoying this whole process a lot – but it is always exciting to be nearing completion of a project. The next step will be to mortis the legs to receive the stretchers, and then drawbore all the joints together. That’ll be the next blog posting. Hopefully I’ll be able to get all that done over the course of this coming week. I hope everyone is enjoying all this so far. It has been almost therapeutic to blog about my progress during this whole thing.
-- Andy Panko, Edison NJ