Garden Bench and Table Construction #2

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Blog entry by CedarFreakCarl posted 08-02-2007 03:37 AM 3752 reads 1 time favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

I forgot to mention on the first part of this blog that I don’t have any pictures of construction on the bench. This was due partly to my camera crapping out on me and I really didn’t know this thing would turn out as good as it did. After completing the bench and seeing the results, I figured it would be a good idea to take pictures when I decided to do the table and share them with ya’ll. So, I bought a new camera. With that said I continue:
Fitting Board
Here’s what I used for a “fitting board” to get the tenons to the correct diameter.
Fitting Board 2
One thing I figured out was how just a little turn of the height wheel on the table saw made a big difference on the fit of the tenon. Also, I had to slide the jig at times to compensate for the “arc” the of the dado blade as it is adjusted upwards.
4 tenons
Here are some more completed ones. One they are shaped, I hand sanded them with 120 grit sand paper.
Drill Guide
I didn’t get any pictures of me actually drilling the mortises for the legs, but here’s one of the “drill guide” which is only a piece of scrap MDF with a 10 degree angle cut on one end. I just marked the hole centers and put the drill point on the mark. Next I snugged up the guide to the drill chuck and carefully drilled the hole. Those Ridgid auger bits are awesome on speed, but they’ll get away from you if you’re not careful. I drilled from the top of the table to the bottom and had a scrap piece of cypress underneath to reduce tearout. Also, I angled the guide 5 degrees toward the corner of the table as shown. I know this is crude, but if you’re consistently just one or two degrees off, that’s close enough for this kind of construction.
Dry Fit 1
After drilling the mortises in the table top I put the un-hewn legs into the holes in order to mark where the cross members would go.
Dry Fit 2
Next I put the cross members into the mortises in the legs, then marked the mortise locations for the other cross members and drilled their holes also.
Next came the “hand hewing”. I clamped the outside table top boards into my work bench and commenced to put hew marks on the sides with my grandad’s old draw knife. It had been laying in the crawl space of my mom’s house and needed a real going over as far as sharpening goes. But, once sharpened, it worked great. While cypress is somewhat soft, I’d imagine oak or maple would take much more sharpening and elbow grease.Hewn 2
Here’s the same shot from a different angle.
Hew Jig
Here’s the “leg holder” I came up with. It was somewhat of a “knuckle buster” but was the best I could do with this paricular bench. By the way, even though it’s not quite finished and isn’t the greatest on table legs, I just love my bench. I used John White’s design from Fine Woodworking. But, I’ll save that for another blog.
Once I had the legs and cross members hewn to about where I wanted them, I chiseled a taper where the hewn part met the round part so that it would help reduce the “stress fracture potential” at the point where it suddenly goes round and enters the table top mortise. I hope it helps anyway.Tenon Wedges
After making the “wedge cuts” in the tenons on the bandsaw, I started putting it together. The wedges I used were from some 120 year old heart pine from my great grandad’s store. (Debbie, I guess I did use some of that wood afterall!) Real heart pine is almost as hard as red oak and lasts forever as long as it doesn’t catch on fire. It’s really some tough and dense stuff.
Wedges 2
wedges 4
Once the wedges were good and tight, I chiseled and sanded them off.Leg Wedge
The order I put the wedges in the legs and cross members was important. First I assembled the legs, cross members and top without tenon wedges. I then got the base part reasonably square and put the wedges in the smaller cross members first to tighten that part up. Next I wedged the tenons on the larger cross members and once that was tightened up I put the big ones in the leg tenons on the top of the table.
While it’s not exactly square and plumb, it’s close enough. That’s what rustic is all about, right? Well, I guess we’ve all got our idea’s of what rustic is supposed to be. This was mine.

Some things I learned on this project:

1. Sharp hand tools can produce surprisingly quick and accurate work.
2. Dull hand tools are no fun and don’t have much function.
3. The trunion on my table saw is about 1/32” off and needs adjustment.
4. Never give up! Sometimes good ideas come from the depths of adversity.
5. This wood working site has a wealth of good information within as well as a wealth of great members.

Thanks for looking, Carl.

PS: As soon as I get a couple more coats of oil on this thing, I’ll put it outside where it belongs and post some pictures. Thanks again.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

1 comment so far

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4299 days

#1 posted 11-13-2007 02:05 AM

This is great. So for stool legs I’m reading that it should be between 5 and 10 degrees for the angle? I’m going to build my first full size shop stool and was curious about the angles…


-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

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