So far, in my woodworking “career”, I’ve made 4 benches. It’s a simple design that I came up with that uses yellow pine 2×4s for all the pieces. The 1st bench I put together was … bulky. The final design, which I’m very happy with, I think of as the Mk III; doubled 2×4s for the legs with a shoulder for the bench to rest on, 1/2” slats suppored by braces in the middle, all held together with Miller dowels.
The Mk I was all single pieces of 2×4s put together w/ 1/2” spacers screwed between each of the slat boards ( solid 2×4 “slats” all the way across. Yup, it was a bit of an overbuild ), and a single piece of 2×4 for the legs. It served, but was heavy and the legs weren’t nearly as sturdy as I wanted. All of this screwed together ( no glue ).
The revisited project – my Mk II bench. Went from a single 2×4 piece for each leg to two pieces glued together for a much stronger and stabler leg. I put support pieces across the bench top to support 1/2” slats I ripped from ( you guessed it ) 2×4 stock, and I secured the top with screws and capped them with wood plugs. The bench top was held together by lag bolts going through the rails of the body of the bench into the legs. I thought, “Lagbolts! They’re be strong enough!” I had also cut the side pieces of the bench at a 45-ish degree angle, and it joined up well enough, especially after the lag bolts were applied. But yellow pine is a soft wood ( you knew that? Why didn’t you tell me? ), and I hadn’t realized the utility of washers with lag bots.
So. Jump forward to now, where I’m working on a platform for our kingsize bed, the mattresses of which currently rest on the floor. No frame. Nada. After some discussion w/ SWMBO, we pick a stain, and I’m looking at the Mk II that’s sitting in the bedroom ( we replaced all the outside benches w/ Mk IIIs once I got there.. ), with a few cat scratches, corners of the bench that have proven shin-scraping sharp, and a general unsteadiness to the bench that wasn’t there years ago, and I think to myself, “Hey! I can take this out, re-stain it, and it gives us a matching stain.
Once I got it out to the workshop, I started sanding it and noticed how much less solid the Mk II is now that I have a working and stable Mk III design. The legs are moving around, the bench top isn’t nearly as solid as I’m used to, and … it’s a list. So I finished my list of what I wanted to do, and started on the changes.
The changes – removed the legs and cut the shoulders for the bench frame to rest on ( in doing this, I had to make a repair to my tenoning jig, as it had evidently had a great fall and was a-kilter. I used a nice piece of hard maple scrap from y grandson’s recent toy chest, and straightened it right up ). I re-aligned the bench frame and strengthened ( actually joined ) the pieces together with a set of 3 large miller dowels from one side of the corner with two more from the other side. This was done on each corner of the bench frame. Then I ran the too-sharp edges through my 3/8” quarter-round router bit which made the edge something you’ll have to work hard to scuff up agains ( and I’m sure I’ll find a way to sometime in the dark of night ).
The legs were attached with large MDs, 3 to a side, and are MUCH more stable than before. Sawed off the ends of the MDs, sanded, and have the stain drying on the unit.
That was all this morning. And it was fun.
-- Making scrap with zen-like precision - Woodbutchery