The leg to top joinery was checked and declared ready to go. Once dry assembled, I trimmed the tenons with hand saw and re-verified fit. Final sanding and pre-finish applied to base components, the underside and edges of the top.
The workbench was assembled in my office to avoid squeezing through doors and obstructions our home offers. Once knocked together the top received final sanding and two (or was it three?) coats of oil/varnish finish.
The bench is not glued together so it may be knocked apart in the future. Should be solid enough for my endeavors. Tight joinery and gravity will be sufficient.
My intent and plan (at least at some point in the design process) was for the existing tool cabinet to rest on the stretchers. However, somewhere along the way that objective was lost. The cabinet was not deep enough to rest on the stretchers. So I had to create a new base. Cut up an old Philippine Mahogany desk to create a simple base using half lap joinery. This base is (mostly) hidden from view.
With the top glued up and dog holes bored, it was time to make the through mortises for the legs and base assembly. The base is assembled (no glue) and held square with clamps. 2x4s were half lapped as temporary upper stretchers to eliminate possibility of legs splaying. The half laps matched the lower stretchers.
The base is positioned on the top (underside) and leg tenons (and dovetails) marked. First up were the rectangular mortises. Chisel v-cuts avoided blow out when the boring waste. I used a 3/8-inch boring bit to drill multiple holes halfway down, then flipped the top and drilled from the other direction. After boring, a mortise chisel cleaned out bulk of remaining waste followed by wider chisel to clean up edges.
The dovetail slots were cut just shy of the boundary line and then relief cuts made in the waste area. Those cuts made chopping bulk of waste an easy and fun process. A wide chisel pared to the angled lines, followed by combination of chisel and route plane to create a flat and perpendicular surface. Test fitting, followed by tweaking kept me entertained and challenged.
The top will be about 2-3/4 inches thick, 21 deep and 37 long. Made laminates from 8/4 cherry. After milling, I glued up in three section for easier handling. Dog holes were bored then the sections were glue together. I attempted to keep them well-aligned at glue up to minimize further flattening. Result was close enough that sanding with ROS took care of ridges.
I trimmed the ends with hand saw. For the first side I used a batten, but not with satisfactory results. Even with a guide (batten) there is a learning curve … which I have not mastered, obviously. Required considerable, tedious chisel cleanup. The other side I drew my guideline and another AVOID GOING THIS FAR OFF line 1/16 inch inside the real line. Sawed to the line with reasonable results.
Each leg has double through tenons that will go into the workbench top. I left the tenons about 1/8 inch proud for handling. Will trim flush after final assembly. The outer tenon has a dovetail shape and is open at its narrow face to create a flush surface between the edge of top, face of leg and face of long stretchers. Pretty cool.
That matching mortise in the top is pretty fragile. Pushing the tenons home did break out the sharp corners in several places. I patched a few, but mostly left it looking rustic.
The lower stretchers have fat tenons which require double pass with my 3/8 inch spiral router bit. I had considerable burning as that bit (since replaced) was rather fried from previous efforts. The burned walls are not visible when assembled and they can’t impact glue bond as I am not glueing the workbench. Semi-knock apart style. Good joinery and plenty of gravity should hold it sound and stable.
I am building a new workbench for my in-office, rainy day woodworking. It will replace one that served me well, but has some shortcomings. Plus, I really was driven to try the classic leg to top Roubo joinery.
First up was milling stock for the legs. I used the 8/4 cherry from Bell Forest Products for the entire project. The bench will use the better part of three of the six boards I received (100 b.f.). The legs are glued up to created 3.5 x 2.75 inch components.
This simple, but robust mini-bench will not have any vise, but I can use my Moxon style vise when that form of work holding is required. Mostly I anticipate using dogs, holdfasts, battens and wedges.
This was a fairly early project of mine. I am slowly bringing images over to the blog site. This was fun to review. My methods have changed considerably over the years, however, the basic structure is very much similar to my current approach to cabinet construction. Plenty of interlocking joinery to amuse this woodworker.
My on-line carving instructor, Mary May, created a cornucopia project prior to Thanksgiving, 2017. I did not finish my rendition in time for the annual feast, but enjoyed the process.
Basswood was used for its workability. After the relief carving was completed I gave it a light spray of shellac and then “colorized” using diluted acrylic paints for a wash effect.
The result was interesting. Not sure if I prefer the natural look or the painted version. From a distance the painted version can almost look like a mere painting, whereas left natural it is more obviously carved.
Around 2010 I built a sideboard using highly figured Bubinga. I was still in my experimenting with finishes stage. The top was too shiny for my taste, but I left it that way for a long time. Finally, I decided to refinish the top more to my liking.
Removed the top and sanded with 50 grit paper and proceeded through grits to 220. The original top also showed planer snipe at one end which was only visible in certain lighting angles. The sanding also removed the snipe. Thank you, very much.
Finished with usual varnish/BLO/mineral spirits wipe on/wipe off procedure. Besides being more to my taste, I removed the wince that would cross my face every time I looked at that piece.
In response to Shawn’s query I looked at the original photo gallery (and the actual cabinet). Flipping through the images I see a number of processes that no longer fit my style. The hollow chisel mortiser is gone. Replaced that process with either uncut spiral bit in the router (with edge guide) or by hand with mortising chisel. I do not use a pattern router bit on curves any more. These days I’ll cut close to the line on band saw (as before) and then shape with planes, spokeshaves, rasps and sandpaper.
I do not ever expect to use the hidden Soss hinges again. They caused all sorts of issues. My solutions created rather weak stiles on the hinge sides as I had to round them over to gain clearance. These days I would use knife hinges.
Shawn asked of rationale for not using secondary wood for non-visible portions such as the case top (buried below the show top). I had enough of the fabulous Bubinga for the show top, sides, drawer fronts and door panels. “Regular” (but still nicely colored and patterned) material for the rest. Pure indulgence. For instance, the sides are built to 1-1/2 inches thick from the figured material on outside and regular, but lovely material, on the inside of the sandwich. That is hidden below the top (above) and the legs (front view), but it was fun to do it that way. The inside surface is visible when you have the door(s) open.
Interestingly the hardwood dealer (Soboba) charged the same for the highly figured material as the regular Bubinga. When I saw it in his shop, I immediately got out my checkbook without a specific use in mind.
I used Philippine Mahogany for top row of drawer runners (aka web frame). Also used P.M. for drawer sides and bottoms as well as the back ship lapped back slats. Legs of Padauk.
A driveway designer and woodworker sharing thoughts, experiences and impressions of the journey.