|Project by RobS||posted 07-31-2007 05:03 PM||2262 views||2 times favorited||15 comments|
A few years ago I actually brought a slab of ash home in a suitcase.
While visiting my parents in NH, my father was making a point of how nicely the ash would rive along the length of the log. I decided we could split off a piece, small enough to fit in our large suitcase to take back to Texas. Wanting to use it for a bench, we used my dad’s old 1.5 inch auger to mortise 4 holes completely through the slab at a slight angle to allow the legs to splay slightly. I then trimmed the ends of the slab at an angle with my dad’s table saw, eliminating as much bulk as possible as not to exceed the airline luggage weight limit. The slab’s rough dimensions ended up being 27” x 12” x 3”. I think it was a 28 inch suitcase.
Texas would need to provide the legs; I ended up using 4 pieces of bois d’arc (aka, Osage Orange) from my own back yard. I hand cut the tenons using a saw and chisel, fine tuned it with rasps, a push blade and sandpaper. I used a hose clamp, set at just the right circumference, to gauge my progress on the tenon. Once the hose clamp slid up and down the tenon with just a slight clearance all the way around, I knew it would then fit the mortise snuggly. Then I just pounded the legs in and considered the bench done, no glue, just carefully snugged 3” mortise and tenon joints.
Fast forward to this last Saturday night; my wife moved the bench to a new site and a leg came loose in the mortise and slid out a bit. I said, “Hey, I could fix this and if I don’t use any glue or fasteners, I could then enter it in the joinery contest.” Remembering it also had a slight wobble from not so perfectly cut legs, I decide to provide it with a little TLC on Sunday.
Well it just so happened that the leg that needed fixing had not only the smallest diameter of the four legs, it was also the rascal contributing to the wobble. While attempting to saw a sliver from that old leg, I broke it, snapped right at the base of the tenon. No problem, there’s more bos d’arc where that came from. After choosing the right log, and cutting the new tenon, I decided to attempt to wedge all 4 tenons, a first for me, and this could only add to my joinery competition complexity, raising the bar just a little more, right?
Adding the new leg allowed me to add some pics of the tenon process:
I cut the wedges from some scrap oak on the table saw and cut the tenon’s right down the middle with my hand saw. After sanding the whole bench down again, I added a couple coats of teak oil and now there is no wobble and I don’t think those legs are going anywhere.
So here it is, perhaps a bit bulky, a bit rustic, a little heavy but certainly sentimental as it has wood from my parents yard in NH and also from my yard in TX.
-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX