21st Century Workbenches Project #6: Milling the legs

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Blog entry by thedude50 posted 07-04-2012 07:30 AM 2116 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: the first top is done Yea I am Happy Part 6 of 21st Century Workbenches Project series Part 7: The First dry fit this will give you an Idea of how big these benches really are. »

Today I spent the day doing the last glue up of the tops and they are either done or in clamps drying. I then turned my attention to the legs and decided to cut the long boards down to rough lengths of 3 feet. The finished size will be 32 inches. I then jointed the sides and the face of each blank. I milled each piece only until I had a clean face. this gave me the dimensions i would target for finished blanks. Next I found the thinnest piece and adjusted the planer to take a shallow pass and stopped when it was a clean face. the digital gauge on the planer is from Wixey and it makes accurate and repeatable sizes a snap. I have been testing the Wixey tools and love them very much. So now I had my finished target size I began with the thickest boards and one by one ran them through the planer till they all reached my target size. I have to tell you that the instructions on the bench say to mill the legs to as thick as possible. However I felt that it was crucial to have them all be exactly the same thickness. Next I turned to the second benches legs and repeated the process. these legs turned out to be slightly larger but they were a matched set as well and all the legs were bigger than the instructions called for ,but bigger is better yes? Now we turned to width and repeated this planing procedure on both benches. This time the legs all ended up being the same.

Tomorrow I will finalize my plan for the through mortices and for the method I will choose to cut them these are pretty big and I am leaning towards making the mortises with a template and a router . I saw Norm Abram use this technique on a mortice on the deck chair he made. I thought about using the hallow chisel mortiser but the sites get eccentric when you try to make wider holes than the chisel size. the other way to do this is with a pig sticker but I still need to buy them and i don’t have a 2 inch pig sticker. And lastly you can drill out most of the hole with a forstner bit and then chisel it clean. So I am thinking I will mark it out drill it out and then clean the rest out with the router and my jig. this way the majority of the wood will be gone and I will be smoothing it up easily. the other things I have to do will be done on the radial arm saw and I hope that that works out well. I will use the stacked dado head cutter on the Delta Radial arm Saw and this will leave a pretty clean mortice. I will fine tune the mortice with my Lie Nielsen 71 Router Plane. I will be Photographing this entire process so if you don’t know how to do this stuff you can learn. The other thing I will need to do before I finish up the legs is I will have to make the top and bottom rails each one will be unique so the joints must be numbered and this is crucial not to mix them up After this is done I will have to mill and glue up the upper and lower stretchers these will be identical parts and should have no issues in fitting in the mortices I plan on cutting them large and fine tuning them with a shoulder plane and a chisel plane. I will do my best to get the 16 leg blanks turned into legs in the next few days then this project will be wrapped up except for the detail work which I love the most. Please feel free to chime in on my methods and if you feel I am doing something wrong. Next blog will have tons of photos so please come back for the eye candy.

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5 comments so far

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 3167 days

#1 posted 07-04-2012 07:40 AM

Keep at it Lance sounds like this project is progressing nicely.

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2271 days

#2 posted 07-04-2012 02:00 PM


You have mentioned that you are making 2 benches, is the other for Daniel?

Thanks for shariing. – Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10100 posts in 4051 days

#3 posted 07-04-2012 04:38 PM

Sounds good!

Happy 4th !!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2477 days

#4 posted 07-04-2012 08:46 PM

Len The second bench is for my uncle he just turned 75 and has decided he wants to return to working wood he will be getting a stock of tools and there like and I am happy to get him off on the right foot. he has done a lot for me over the years.

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View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2477 days

#5 posted 07-05-2012 04:30 AM

I settled in on the plan to cut the mortices. I am going with a router and a big corner chisel I will do the first leg this way. I made an extra leg and want to cut a test board before I dig in to the finished leg stock. I am confident this is the best way to do this as it doesn’t involve a lot of beating the wood into submission. my chisels are razor sharp like all the tools in my shop. I am OCD about sharp chisels well sharp everything. I cant tolerate working dull tools this is why i love the tormek. It is simply the best way to put a keen edge on tools. The template was prepared today I will make the cutouts in the morning. I cant wait to get this project done and this is the last hurdle. The dovetail is a half lap dovetail and should be straight forward I wont say easy but it is a big basic joint, The only other hurdle I foresee at this time is that I need to finish the restore on my Delta Radial arm saw as I want to use it to do the dado’s on the legs. and to make the tenons on the stretchers. as well as hogging out the material for the half lap dovetails I like the RAS for this because the blade moves and the wood just sits there less chance of an error . so tomorrow I will begin working on the RAS.

-- Please check out my new stores and

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