Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bench Legs and First Fit Up

The legs for this bench are obviously one of the unique design ideas. They are made from laminated pieces of maple and my intention all along was to apply some sort of painted and aged finish. But of course first the legs and stretchers would have to be glued up into assemblies.

These leg assemblies are the foundation for the bench and therefore they really need to be square.

While the leg assemblies were in the clamps on the bench they were at the optimal height to allow me to break all the sharp corners with a small plane.

The finishing process was laborious but the steps were actually quite simple.  I first applied a coat of Potting Bench Green solid exterior stain. This material looks a lot like milk paint. I lightly sanded all the surfaces after the first coat dried and applied another coat. The next day I rubbed the painted surfaces down with a maroon ScotchBrite pad. I then applied an oil pigments stain and wiped it lightly leaving enough color to give the paint an aged appearance. I then placed them in the garden house to let all the applied finish dry quite thoroughly and so the tacky finish wouldn't be exposed to the dust created while working on the other components of the bench. I let them be for nearly a week. I then brought them back into the shop and applied a thorough coat of finishing wax.

With the apron boards prepped, and with the leg vise details and holes drilled for assembly and work holding I was ready to do a first assembly fit up. 

Note, there are some wood movement issues in this design that have to be considered. There is a gap between the bottom of the apron boards and the bottom of the notch in the legs. The boards for the top of the bench will be glued to the edge of the apron boards so any expansion has to go downward. If this is the way you want it to move you've got to allow space. If the apron boards were against the bottom of the notch in the legs the apron board would lever upward when it expands and this would wreck havoc on the shape of the bench top.

Everything lined up as it should and so I turned my attention to processing the boards for the top of the bench. This meant hoisting more 8/4 maple timbers. I am once again reminded of why they call this "woodWORKING"


 "If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember,  this whole thing was started with a
dream and a mouse."
– Walt Disney


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