My First Workbench #14: Day 14: Trimming Tenons and legs...

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by RaggedKerf posted 08-26-2012 12:10 PM 4521 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 13: Day 13: Dry fit the base! Part 14 of My First Workbench series Part 15: Day 15: Working on the top. »

For all the pictures, please click here.

Note: This was supposed to have been posted Saturday the 25th…

I wasn’t sure how much time I’d have today to work on the bench so instead of charging ahead with measuring the height of the legs to get ready for installing the top, I decided to do some more mundane tasks. They still are in general preparation for the top, but I just wasn’t planning on doing them first.

Before I get going though, I had mentioned yestrday about having to trim the thickness of some of th tenons to make a tighter joint. This is what I was talking about:

All I did was take my crosscut saw and cut out a notch the appropriate thickness, then take my chisels and pop off the waste. It took all of about 10 minutes to get all the joints cut like this. Once I had everything trimmed, I put it all back together and now every joint is crisp and tight. That’s much more satisfying to me. I mean, yesterday I thought to myself, self, you know this is going to be just a workbench right? It’s going to get abused and used and left out here int he garage…so what if 3 of the 4 joints are off by about 1/16”?

But no. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it to the best of my abilities. While it may not be much to look at in the end anyway, I will at least have no small amount of pride in the fact that there was nothing short of throwing money at the darn thing that will have made it better. Cause throwing money at a problem always makes it better. Right?

Anyway, once I was happy with the tenons and joints, I turned to another task I’ve read a lot about. Beveling the edges on the bottom of the legs. I understand that doing this prevents the wood from catching on stuff as you move the bench around the shop or what not. That’s the last thing I want is to have a splintered leg after all this work. So I whipped out the block plane and went to town. I figured 45* would work, so I drew a line 1/4” from the edge on the all sides and the bottom to give me guides and started to slice it off.I was quite pleased with how well this Douglas fir sliced. It was much easier to work with than the SPF that the 2×4s are made of have been. Within about 30 minutes or so, I had all four sides of all four legs beveled:

Next, it was on to figuring out how to connect the top. My original idea was to borrow the technique from Chris Schwarz’s Workbenches book and do half-blind mortises into the bottom of the top, then drill and peg from the front. But, his top is a lot bigger and a lot more evenly dimensional than mine (another lesson learned!).

The other option I’ve been kicking around since I started designing this thing was to use the Ian Kirby method of a cross-piece under the top at the legs, bolted through the top. In fact, I’ve received a number of suggestions so far that entail that method. With the irregular bottom surface of the top that I have, I think that’s ultimately the best choice.

Now that the decision is made, how to go about doing it? I mean, look at it…I flipped it over for this picture and you can see the slight bow, which I’m confident I can flatten out, but look at all the uneven 2×4s left after my over-engineering!

That’s when I hit on a solution. Tack one of the little strips cut off earlier to make the top (that’s some payback right there) to the side and make a level platform from the front to the back to rest another cut off piece of 2×4. This way the cross piece that will be under the top from front to back will support the whole top, not just the high points (or low points, I guess, once the top is flipped back over):Then rest a piece of 2×4 offcut which happens to be the right length on it and trace the profile of the raised portion of the bottom.

Then once I have the profile, cut it! If I’ve done this correctly, I believe I’ll have a nice tight fitting support under the top that I can drill through and bolt down. The actual cutting out of the pattern will have to wait though…daddy duty called!

-- Steve

2 comments so far

View Sylvain's profile


708 posts in 2521 days

#1 posted 08-26-2012 01:32 PM

What about making a kind of dado in the few board that are deeper. You don’t need to flatten the entire bottom although it might help in keeping the top stable.

You will find a lot of how to in the serie of Paul sellers :
How to Build a Workbench
including how to make a poor man router with a chisel to make the wide dado in part 11 Apron Receses.

If I am right Paul sellers planed the bottom before the top.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View RaggedKerf's profile


425 posts in 2142 days

#2 posted 08-26-2012 05:17 PM

Of course! That would be so much more simple than what I started to do…I don’t understand why every time I try and come up with a solution it ends up being 3 times as difficult or time consuming as what should have been and obvious, smack my forehead in disbelief answer.

Thanks for the suggestion and the link! I have read through a good chunk of his blog but I skipped the portion on the aprons because I wasn’t planning on making any. That will teach me to assume I know what I’m doing!

Thanks again!

-- Steve

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics