The small, but robust, bench/cabinet is ready for shipping. Six coats of my usual varnish oil blend was applied with rag, wet sanded and wiped off. This creates a pleasant to the eye and touch finish to the piece.
Overall dimensions approximately 21 x 13 x 14 inches weighing in at 25 pounds. Sides, back and fronts began as 8/4 stock to yield about 1-1/2 inch thick material less the curvature of front and back surfaces. Legs about 2 x 2 inches and the top just over one inch thick. Top is secured by stub tenons (on legs) and four figure eight fasteners.
The top for this piece uses my old-growth, sinker Honduras Mahogany from Greener Lumber, LLC. One edge (one side only) had some severe cracks and voids. I filled those with tinted epoxy, then milled the top. After cutting to overall dimensions, I created gentle curves on each edge. Those cuts were cleaned up with rasps and sandpaper followed by routing a round over both top- and under-side.
The legs have fat, stub tenons so corresponding mortises were cut with a straight router bit and chisel. A Buhl-diamond was cut on the underside with V-chisel and final sanding prepared the piece for finishing.
This piece has two drawers which hang on wooden slides and are separated by a small horizontal divider. The top drawer has a pull which will be mostly hidden below the overhanging top. No pull is required for the lower drawer. Grasping below can slide the drawer out.
I am revisiting a design for the fourth time. Each time offers opportunity to refine or experiment. The overall look has stayed consistent (after the initial prototype) with slight alterations in materials, dimensions or techniques.
This version uses 8/4 cherry for sides and faces. The legs are H. Mahogany which was not a great choice this time. I usually seek rift-sawn material for legs, which this was supposed to be but, alas, it was not. The material itself was rather soft and did not take tooling well. Besides tear out, it just wanted to be fuzzy. I had selected and milled the legs prior to choosing the 8/4 cherry. That cherry would have been great for the legs. Next time!
Below are pix of the process of putting together and shaping the case. Subsequent post(s) will cover drawer creation and other details including the show top. Drawer front half-blind dovetails had to be made prior to shaping the curve. That process will be shown in the drawer post. Typically posts are sequential, but there will be a bit of jumping around this time.
I am currently applying the finish. The small but robust piece is a surprise gift for friends.
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. Friction 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.
A driveway designer and woodworker sharing thoughts, experiences and impressions of the journey.