Level

Took nowhere near as many photos as normal today, because I kept getting ten-minute bursts in between rain showers to work in in the morning. But I got some work done – the stretcher tenons got cut, the mortices in the second leg got drilled out in the top mortice and half-drilled out in the bottom mortice, and then I spent twenty minutes cursing and swearing, chopping at an inch-thick knot right at the edge of the mortice, stropping the chisel every few minutes to try to keep it as sharp as possible.

Git of a thing. Read more

“who cares, it’s just a workbench”

Nice dry day this morning, so back to the bench I go. I managed to cut one mortice an evening during the week in the back leg, so this morning I started by cutting the matching tenons on the stretchers and then cutting the mortice in the benchtop for the leg tenon. A bit of fettling and everything was looking acceptable…

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Cat gallows

This weekend’s been that point where all those lovely square CAD sketches and notebook sketches and watching youtube videos and so on has been translated into a set of really scruffy joints in really low-class timber. I notice that this point is not covered very well in most of the youtube videos out there. Mainly because you could just write “yeah, don’t bother, save up for a mcguire bench instead” and it’d be less unpleasant!
Anyway… Read more

Notched batten

Another day, another few hours learning why I’m an engineer instead of a carpenter.
No rain, but on-call at work, so I no sooner had the tools out and the tarps off in the back yard than the phone rang, and that was three hours gone before I’d gotten started. But on we go.
I’d planed one of the stretchers out of twist during the week and tidied up the leg tenons a bit more till things at least looked square, so I started off planing the other stretcher out of twist. I’ve been using a clamped spare offcut as a planing stop on the benchtop to now, but during the week I came across an article by Chris Schwartz which led to both another article by Chris Schwartz and a Richard McGuire video, so out came the saw and I cut myself a notched batten:

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Staring at the void

So anyone looking at the Irish weather forecast knows by now that the dead have risen and dogs are lying down with cats and everyone is complaining about being a little bit melty. Still though, it wasn’t so bad after sevenish, so last night I took the benchtop out of the clamps to check the glue-up.

Soooo many clamps, and still this happens: Read more

Leg joints

A lovely sunny day without any rain today, so obviously I made huge amounts of progress and am nearly finished.
And if you believed that, I have a bridge to sell you. I finished tidying up the end cut on the benchtop and started on the layout of the leg tenons. I started that by checking the mating between the leg tenon boards and the benchtop center section. You might remember that I had the great idea of leaving those two edge boards seperate from the center laminated section so as to make cutting the leg mortices easy. The problem was that some eejit left the two edge boards seperate from the center laminated section so that marking out where the mortices would go was nearly impossible. In the end, I gave up on the mortices and decided I’d glue the boards to the center section and do the mortices then; and in the meantime get on with cutting the tenons. The back legs should be a relatively straightforward tenon, about a half-inch shorter than the benchtop is thick (there’ll be a dado on the underneath of the benchtop). But the joint on the front legs is a tad more irritating. Read more

New Mallet

No rain today, but lots of errands in the morning and afternoon, so only got to work on the bench around five pm. Oh well. At least one of the errands was picking up a new mallet from the post office. Hand-turned lignum vitae from an old lawn bowling ball and a nice oak handle (this seller in case anyone’s interested).

Isn’t it pretty? 🙂 And it works nicely too (“works nicely? It’s a mallet, not a fire control computer, it’s a lump of wood wot you ‘it things wit’, wot’s e on about?” and so on, but it’s lovely and well-balanced and solid and the weight’s just grand). Anyway…

I did manage to get the legs squared up during the week, and cleaned up the stretchers though I didn’t get a chance to square them up (but they weren’t far off from it) so I started off by cutting the remaining two legs to length.

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Flying plane

A nice dry-ish day for most of today (for which I know karma is going to exact vengeance) so after breakfast, out to check on the apron glue-up.

Not bad. No daylight between the boards. A bit of bowing and twist though, so out with sid…

Did I say a bit of twist? I’m sorry, I meant an entire 40-foot container full of pineapple worth of twist. The front apron wasn’t too bad, it only took the one pass with sid on either side – about 20-odd minutes in total – but the back apron’s middle board was a few mm higher than the other two boards and it ate the rest of an hour getting that down to even reasonably flat. But I got it done and then got out the faithful #4½ to do the smoothing away of sid’s furrows. Front apron board was less than ten minutes and there wasn’t any twist in it at the end of that, and okay there might be a mm or two of bow over the full length of the apron, but I’m okay with that, I just need the parts around the legs to be flat and the rest to be reasonable. Then I changed over to the back apron board, and in the middle of moving boards around, caught the #4½ full in the side and knocked it off the 40″ tall work surface onto the paving stones.

You know that moment when you run a boning knife through your finger and the pain hasn’t hit yet, but you can see how bad it was and you know it’s going to hurt? Yeah, that moment. I was fully expecting to see cast iron bits go flying in all directions. Read more

Never enough clamps

Well, the vice leg glue-up seems to have been unaffected by its shower, and it’s now a suitably beefy leg (by which I mean, it’s now large enough to look comically too large for the benchtop. Oh well, it won’t be the only thing that’ll look funny about this by the time I’m done I suspect). There wasn’t much time for the rest of the week to do much work (so I occupied myself by buying more tools. Why did nobody tell me this was a sickness you could catch? What the hell did I need a #6 for? Well, other than for preparing smaller boards that didn’t really need the #7, and for filling the space in the tool cabinet between the #5½ and the #7…. though maybe a T5 would help with the symmetry… Oh, for pete’s sakes!).

Today was dryish in defiance of a forecast for thunderstorms and drowning pets, so after the chores for the week and a visit from family were done, I managed to get two or three hours in. I spent a bit of that staring at the top, the remaining boards that will have the leg tenons in them and which aren’t laminated up yet so I can cut the joints with saws rather than chop out the mortices by chisel, the four legs and the boards for the aprons, assembling and reassembling them in my head to walk through the sequence looking for a lazy-ass shortcut. Not finding any, and finding to my disgust that the bench didn’t assemble itself in reality by magic while I was imagining how it’d go together in my head (stupid physics), I opted to assemble the aprons today and cut the leg mortices tomorrow. So I cleaned up the four remaining apron boards (the top two of each were already planed clean) and picked my sides and oriented them to have matching grain directions, and then edge jointed them. Which sucked the north end of a southbound donkey the first time, but by the fourth I was starting to get the hang of it. I guess having fifty-four different planes has at least one upside. Though I may need to ease off on the carnal feelings towards my #7, I don’t think the RSPCA would approve.

Got both the aprons prepped for glue-up, planning to glue them both up at the same time. Got out the cast iron clamps and laid them out, all grand, then got out the aluminium sash clamps and prepped them…. Read more

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