Thursday, January 26, 2017

Back to the Bench

After Christmas I decided to turn my attention to the workbench project. The legs and the 8/4 soft maple lumber I had acquired for this project have been in the way and taking up a lot of space in the shop. Best possible solution was to go ahead and turn them into a bench that would be a usable tool in lieu of dealing with the clutter on a daily basis.

If you would like to refer to the first blog post on this bench build here is a link.

It explains the scope of the project and the reason I chose the Nicholson design. But now back to the build.

First off I needed to shorten the legs. Legs that are 5" square present a problem. I guess if you had a 12" mitre/chop saw you could use that to cut them to length. I even considered loading them up and taking a trip to Wyatt Childs Inc. (site of the FORP events) and cutting them to length on Bo's large sliding saw. After closer inspection and giving some thought to the problem, I decided that the legs were all quite accurate in length the way I received them from Osborne wood products, so all I really needed to do was accurately remove the part I didn't need in order to make them 32" long. I set a fence on my bandsaw, installed a new blade and an operation I thought would be a challenge turned out to be quite simple and easy.

The next order of operations was to cut the mortises for the stretchers. There are a myriad of ways to do this but frankly this bench project was between me and some other projects I have in the cue so I needed to do this quick and accurately. Besides when you're 63 years old you don't have as large an energy reserve as you did when you were 40, so my milling machine was a quick and easy to way quickly setup and cut these mortises.

I won't bore you with pictures or video of cutting tenons. If you're reading this you've probably cut a few and in many different ways. I made the shoulder cuts on the table saw and cut the cheeks on the bandsaw. Once again, "easy peasy!" The fit was exception and this allowed me to move the project forward at a quick pace.

The next order of operations was to process the 8/4 boards for the apron boards. I needed to notch the legs to accept these boards and I needed to know the final thickness of these components before notching the legs to accept the apron boards.

7 foot long 8/4 maple boards are not easy to handle and present a challenge just hefting them thru jointer operations and the like. I found it much easier to take the tool to the board in lieu of the board to the tool. I did work one surface of these boards thru my 12" jointer after knocking the high spots down with a hand plane. Thick timbers always seem to have a certain amount of twist and if it's not removed in the early stages of process it will remain a problem thru out the build.

The video below is an overview of several of the operations needed to prepare the apron boards.

After the legs were cut to length and the apron boards were processed I could proceed with the work on the legs.

You can see in the picture above, the legs are mortised, the thru hole for the BenchCrafted Classic leg vise is drilled and the mortise for the BenchCrafted CrissCross is milled. I made both cuts for the notch to received the apron boards on the bandsaw.

Many will wonder why I purchased the legs already turned from Osborne Wood Products. Frankly the blanks to turn the legs would have cost as much as the already turned pieces. Like I said I have other projects in the cue and a bench project is already a large task. Ready turned legs sent the project forward at a much faster pace.


"When you're dead you won't even know you're dead. It's a pain only felt by others.

Same thing when you're stupid."      (unknown)


  1. Interesting design - still trying to wrap my brain around a leg vise in a turned leg - I cannot come up with any issues. I can't wait to go see it finished

  2. Clyde in the initial design phase the leg vise in the turned leg was the first thing that had to be worked out. Actually using the BenchCrafted Crisscross helped this work as compared to a leg vise with parallel guide. Otherwise the leg at the vise would need to be cut in half down it's length and a flat section added.

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