Aug 16

Splitsville, man…

So I started this morning by finishing off the mortice for the plane stop. This did not go well. First of all, despite my dead fancy wooden carvers mallet, the old footprint half-inch chisel split right down the handle…

Continue reading “Splitsville, man…” »

Aug 16

Buying hardwood

Just got back from Quinn’s hardwoods, bought a few boards of walnut, ash and poplar and some t&g cedar for a drawer bottom. Nice chap running it, they have no problem at all with small-order hobbyists like me (and they already get a fair few coming in, especially for school projects and the like). I just wandered in, said hi to the guy running things and told him roughly what I was looking for (1″ thick walnut and 1″ thick poplar), he showed me where their bundles of boards were and left me to myself while I picked out the ones I wanted (and grabbed some ash and some cedar t&g lengths as well), he measured them and totted up the cubic footage and worked out the total and that was that. Very painless and laid back, far less stressful than I thought it’d be (I was expecting to be squeezed in between guys buying five figures worth of wood on all sides and showing up with trucks to haul it away with).

I suppose if I’d picked out everything I wanted to take away, it would have been more painful – on the wallet anyways. Walnut was going for around €75 per cubic foot, poplar was just over €20 and ash just over €30 (I just noted the approximate levels because I figure these vary over time). The boards were pretty good – not all dead straight but no massive cupping or twisting, just some small bowing over 14-16 feet or so which was grand (especially as I had to cut them down to 8 feet to get into the car anyway). Very few knots, no major cracks that I saw and a lot to select from. Way better quality than the softwood in the nice bright DIY stores and damn near cheaper at that (the poplar certainly was).

A few answers to my dumb questions which might be useful for anyone who knew as little as I did walking in the door (since all the “how you buy timber at the yard” questions on the internet seem to be written for the US or UK, and Ireland doesn’t get mentioned):

  • The office is in the back of the warehouse from the front loading door. They can take visa so you don’t need to rock up with cash.
  • They don’t have a chop saw or power tools on site, bring your own if you need to break down boards to fit in the car (my C4 can get an 8′ board in without doing the overhang and red flag thing, and the boards I was buying were all around 11′ to 14′ so the giant ryoba came in handy again).
  • They’re open from 7am and don’t close over lunch, but they’re closed by four on the dot and one on the dot on fridays. But there’s no special time that hobbyists ought to aim for inside of that, it’s pretty random if it’ll be busy or not, and they’re happy to do small sales anyway.
  • They don’t have their own delivery service but they’ll arrange delivery for you with an external crowd and just add the cost to the bill if you need it. I’m about 20km away from them and the cost would have been between 30 euro if it’d fit in a hiace, to 50 if it had to go on the van’s roof, to 70 or more if it needed a bigger truck, so it’s about the same amount brooks charged to deliver from 3km away. I really need to figure out a better way to transport this stuff.

Also, if I’d gone there before I started building my bench, I’d probably have grabbed a few lengths of 4″ thick red deal there and just planked the benchtop instead of laminating 2x4s. Next time…

Aug 16

No tilt!

After yesterday’s tour of the inside of a cloud, today started with mild drizzle but dried out to good working weather around noon and since I’m on holiday at the moment, some progress got made…

Hooray! It stands up and it’s level in both directions! Rather pleased with that 🙂

There then followed a period of confusion with what step came next and some checking of notes, and then some testing to see if the aprons still fitted… Continue reading “No tilt!” »

Aug 16


So got an hour in in the morning before the moving cloud arrived. Started with the marked-out inner mortices for the second leg frame, sawed out the parts that could be sawn out and then started chopping away at the waste…

Continue reading “Blow-out” »

Jul 16


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. Continue reading “Level” »

Jul 16

“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…

Continue reading ““who cares, it’s just a workbench”” »

Jul 16

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… Continue reading “Cat gallows” »

Jul 16

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:

Continue reading “Notched batten” »

Jul 16

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: Continue reading “Staring at the void” »

Jul 16

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. Continue reading “Leg joints” »

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