terryR's Bench Blog #1: Cutting and pasting the legs

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Blog entry by terryR posted 12-20-2012 08:14 PM 2680 reads 4 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of terryR's Bench Blog series Part 2: Ugly Mortice and Tenons »

Welcome to terryR’s Bench Build Blog…

I’m sure you know the story…I need a bench…so, let’s build one, right? Only problem is that I’m very much a beginner woodworker, so a bench can be quite intimidating when first considered.

Luckily, I recently purchased Paul Seller’s book Working Wood 1 & 2 which is full of information on using hand tools. I’ve learned quite a bit from hanging out in the forums on LJ’s…but I also love to have a good book from a recognized master for other opinions and ideas. If you are new like me, this is an awesome book…

Anyhow, Mr Sellers has a simple bench in his book on which he teaches his students. To me, it looked very simple, but at the same time, very functional. I decided to give it a try…although with a few size modifications. Here is a version of the bench I found on the web, and mine should look similar. I plan to add one face vise as shown here, and another similar vise at the tail end and tons of holes for bench dogs…

I chose Pine for the bench…cheap…available…perfect. It’s just too bad the big box store has a different standard for what they consider ‘kiln dried’ lumber. To me, that means 6-10% moisture content. So, I bought a stack of 2×10’s and stickered them in the shop to dry a bit…this photo shows about 2/3 of the pine…’premium’, huh?

In hindsight…I should’ve built a small dehumidifier-based kiln and dried the lumber for a week or so…but I was lazy and addicted to the newly acquired lathe…so put it off till never. After a couple of weeks I got the itchy trigger finger and decided it was time to cut and paste some pine! I need a bench!

All the cutting and 4-squaring of the pine took place using the miter saw, band saw, jointer, and planer…ummm…powered tools. Then, I swept the 5 1/2 over the surface to remove tool marks. Love me that 5 1/2…

If you count the number of 3”x4” legs in the photo above, you’ll notice there are FIVE. I’ve learned that trick here on LJ’s…number five is for practice. And it certainly paid off for me. This was my first attempt at a M/T joint! The first mortise was darn ugly. Here’s the second…a bit cleaner…but the haunch wasn’t laid out properly…ooops…

Lucky for me, the Book said to lay out all the mortises at the same time to avoid error…

Hmmm…good idea! Then, it was just a matter of hammering out all the pine between the lines. I actually enjoyed this part very much, and look forward to more mortises…

Well, except for ones like this…

…note to self…Do Not cut and paste lumber so knots appear exactly where joints are supposed to be placed!
But…all worked out OK in the end. Here are the 4 legs and an LN bevel edge socket chisel that survived all the 4” deep mortises with no problem. But, I can attest to the fact that the Hornbeam LN uses is harder than the Bubinga mallet I’ve been using to hammer with…just a little. Next note to self…Gotta start looking for Hornbeam!

You might also note the small deposit of O+ human red blood cells on one of the legs. For some reason, I tend to hold the chisel right on the socket section, so the sharp edges nearby kept grabbing me. I’d hate to take those edges off…guess I better get used to wearing a band-aid at the base of my forefinger!

Next, I focused my attention on the upper and lower leg rails. This is where I made a change in Sellers’ plan because his bench was only 24” deep…not enough for me. I added only 6”, but I think that will be valuable space. So, I measured and cut the rails accordingly…the lower rails are 1 1/2” longer so the tenons protrude in a pleasing manner (hopefully).

You may also note that I’m already working on a bench-like thingy. I can’t remember which LJ I stole this plan from, but I have several of these 2×4 tables in my shop. One for the miter saw, one for the lathe, and the one in use now will become my new sharpening station soon! These tables are certainly strong, but not fine woodworking in any way, shape, or form. So, on we continue, and hope for something a bit stronger, and even better looking.

trying to keep a bit of accuracy…

This is far as I have gotten to date…I marked out for the tenons, but haven’t started yet because I’ve spent all day typing this blog with my ten thumbs!

As far as the huge tool well on Sellers’ bench, I’m still undecided. Well, mine won’t be as large if I choose to keep it. But on the current table I’m using to build this bench, I have a tool well sort of. And…so far…I like it. I’ve read the LJ’s blog on well vs. no well…and I can see both sides pros and cons…

More to come as soon as I can…Comments, ideas, and free donations are always welcomed…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

19 comments so far

View AnthonyReed's profile


9713 posts in 2437 days

#1 posted 12-20-2012 08:15 PM


Edit: Thanks for sharing Terry. It’s looking great.

-- ~Tony

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15349 posts in 2615 days

#2 posted 12-20-2012 08:35 PM

Huzzah! Congrats on the great beginning, looking good!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Mosquito's profile (online now)


9304 posts in 2289 days

#3 posted 12-20-2012 09:57 PM

Excellent… now all I have to do is get mine done first… or try… or something. :-P
Looking good so far

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View ShaneA's profile


6929 posts in 2595 days

#4 posted 12-20-2012 10:17 PM

Alright, now we are rolling. When can we expect to see it done…should not be a problem for this weekend, should it? : )

Look forward to see it come together Terry. Dont let The Beast chew on it, one or two chomps and it could be gone.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18711 posts in 2564 days

#5 posted 12-20-2012 10:17 PM

Off to a great start.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View RVroman's profile


163 posts in 2020 days

#6 posted 12-21-2012 02:48 AM

Wow, that is looking great!

-- Robert --- making toothpicks one 3x3x12 blank at a time!

View Boatman53's profile


1056 posts in 2193 days

#7 posted 12-21-2012 03:18 AM

Looks like a good start. For the record I like the tool well on my bench, is it a mess, yes but I think it will be more manageable once I get the drawers built into the bench.

-- Jim, Long Island, NY home of the chain leg vise

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2050 days

#8 posted 12-21-2012 03:24 AM

looking good,
Can someone tell me why Paul Sellers uses such a big tool tray compared to normal?

-- Joel

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3148 days

#9 posted 12-21-2012 07:17 PM

Looking good Terry, great to see the progress.

Great pics, I can almost smell the sweet smell of pine through the screen.

5 ½ rules, if you don’t have one, get you one!

Tool wells can be covered up later if you don’t like it, just saying… ;-)

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Mosquito's profile (online now)


9304 posts in 2289 days

#10 posted 12-21-2012 07:30 PM

Or, in my case, you can make a cover for the tool well for when you want the extra top space, and removed when you need somewhere to put tools that you don’t want to knock off the bench :-)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View terryR's profile


7137 posts in 2305 days

#11 posted 12-21-2012 11:56 PM

Thanks, guys!

I’m pretty sure I’m adding a tool well after working the past few days…

But, after cutting tenons for 2 days, my mortises look pretty ugly. The gapage is so bad I woulsn’t show the photos to anyone but you guys.

...more practice…heck, it’s just pine!

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View AnthonyReed's profile


9713 posts in 2437 days

#12 posted 12-22-2012 04:11 AM

Drawbore will not address your issue?

-- ~Tony

View Don W's profile

Don W

18711 posts in 2564 days

#13 posted 12-22-2012 01:00 PM

Terry, the other nice thing about tenons, gaps are pretty easy to hide with matching slices. I think gluing those slices actually makes the joint stronger. (repeat it enough and you’ll believe it to)

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View terryR's profile


7137 posts in 2305 days

#14 posted 12-22-2012 01:41 PM

Hey, thanks, Don! I have been thinking all night about how to fill those gaps with pine cut offs! But,,,I wasn’t sure that was ‘accepted’. :)

I re-cut my first 2 tenons over…and they fit much, much tighter than the first try! The small gaps still appear on the visible end, but I feel pretty good about the strength of the joint now. Glue will certainly help…and lil pine slivers will hide the small gaps nicely. I feel pumped over the project again! Thanks, Yoda!

Besides, all these joints will be covered by the large aprons…I just expect perfection…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 2187 days

#15 posted 12-22-2012 01:45 PM

Terry, Where you keep getting cut by your chisels, have you tried this?

-- My terrible signature...

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