|Project by Skip Brewer||posted 06-28-2015 04:09 AM||8260 views||2 times favorited||14 comments|
So I have been very busy lately building furniture for my kids and grandkids – a dresser for my 12-year-old, a dresser and headboard for my 28-year old and his wife, and have orders for three toy boxes for the grandkids and a dresser for my daughter. For the most part, I have been using my Festool MFT table, but while it is great for many things, it has its limitations. So before I go on to the next round of projects, I thought I would take the time to build something for me. :-)
I had built a “workbench” at my old house. It was a laminated countertop on a couple of cabinets screwed together for the base. It worked fine, but was a little limited. So when we moved, I gave it to the next-door neighbor, planning to build a better one once we moved. It only took me three years to get around to it!
I decided to built it completely from scratch. I thought about buying the top pre-made, but I decided to try laminating the top myself. I decided to use beech rather than maple to keep the cost down. Cutting down the 8/4 beech on my Jet contractor saw was a little challenging. It was imperative that I used a thin-kerf rip blade. When I tried to use a standard kerf rip blade, the saw kept burning the wood, bogging down and popping the breaker…
After ripping, jointing and planing the stock to about 1-3/4” square, I glued up the top in three sections. I decided I didn’t want the top to be just plain looking, so I put 1” x 1-3/4” pieces of mahogany between the glued up top section. After scraping off the glue, I hauled the top down to my local hardwood dealer to run it through their Timesaver to get it flattened and sanded. Best $20 I spent on the entire project!
After cutting the top to length, I attached 1-3/4” x 3-1/2” aprons around the top, using splines to line everything up. The breadboard ends are attached with glue only on the first 2-3” of the board, and using 3/8” lag screws in elongated holes along the rest of board to allow for movement.
I’ve never really done much with mortise and tenon joints before, so I decided to use this as a learning experience. Although it is not visible, I used three different methods of creating the mortises and tenons for the end leg assemblies. My first attempt was to drill out the mortises with a drill press and forstner bit, and then clean up and square the mortises with a chisel. I used a tenoning jig from Woodcraft to cut the tenons.
On the opposite leg assembly, I used my plunge router and straight bit to cut the mortises and used my dado stack to cut the tenons, then rounded over the ends of the tenons to fit using a rasp and file.
Because this was my first attempt at mortise and tenon joinery and I didn’t want the joint to fail, I decided to pin the tenons with 3/8” dowels. I decided to use walnut dowels just to add some visual interest. I just drilled through the tenons from one side, applied glue and drove the dowels in. After they dried, I just flush cut the dowels and sanded.
For the long stretchers, I decided to use draw-bolt joinery. I used the router again to cut the mortises, but this time I squared the end of the mortises with a chisel. I used the dado stack again for the tenons. This was by far the easiest method of creating a mortise and tenon joint for me. I then drilled the holes for the 3/8” x 5” carriage bolts, using a forstner bit to create the hole for the nut and washer.
I used a 7” metal quick-release face vise on the front. I buried the rear jaw in the apron (I cut the relief for the jaw before attaching the apron), and added a beech jaw to the front. I bought an economy quick-release front vise to use as my tail vise. I made a jig out of several layers of plywood for drilling the dog holes straight.
After a final sanding, I gave everything a couple of coats of Danish oil, mounted the top to the base, and here we are! I still intend to build a drawer unit to sit on the lower stretcher, both to add more storage and to add more weight. It may not be a Roubo split-top like Marc Spagnuolo has, but I am pretty pleased with it for a first attempt…
Another thing I plan to add is some type of board jack/sliding deadman. I am thinking of using t-track under the apron and along the front stretcher for the deadman to slide on – that would also make it easy to remove and get out of the way when not using it. Has anyone done something like that before?
-- Skip, Califormia