A project which has totally taken over most of my weekends is the renovation of my father-in-law’s home. It is a project which my wife is in charge of. She along with her brother and I have been directing a contractor who is bringing his old house up to date. Many of my Saturdays over the past two months have been spent doing small projects to help control renovation costs (oh, and college football has been a time eater too). Every now and then, I have been able to do a little work on my new workbench. A major turning point in the construction of this bench has arrived – the completion of the base.
Most recently, I have been fabricating the front and rear stretchers. These stretchers have long tenons which slide through mortises in the workbench legs and these legs are splayed adding a little complexity to my woodworking. Each tenon also has a mortise for a wedge. Cutting away all the material for the tenons has been a super slow process. I have tried two methods:
- Using a plunge router and a straight bit to slowly form the tenons. I did this on the front stretcher.
- Using my bandsaw to quickly remove waste for each tenon, then using a plane and my plunge router to fine tune the fit. I did this on the rear stretchers.
The first method leaves a mostly smooth surface which I then turned to my block plane and sander to zero in on the exact fit for the leg through mortise. Again, this is a very slow process and later I realized my router bit had become super dull making removing stock even more time-consuming.
Looking for a faster way to make the tenons, I turned to my bandsaw to quickly remove stock. My reservation in doing this first was that the resulting cut would need more work to clean up, but in the end, this method was faster. Plus, these stretchers are heavy (heavy on purpose). I bought a roller stand to help me control sending these beefy stretchers through my bandsaw. Let’s look at some photos…
At this point, I needed to make the wedges used to lock the legs to their stretchers. I turned to my miter saw and table saw to rough out each wedge and then used a hand plane to get the correct thickness…
I can’t tell you how much hard work and brain power has gone into this workbench at this point. It is a relief just to get the front and rear stretchers completed. I am very pleased with how the various components have gone together. The workbench has some heft and is rock solid.
Next: begin to build the split top. It will be made from ash with a contrasting wood for the gap stop. I suspect this will also be a slow process. Stay tuned…
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