Author: Jeff Branch

Moravian Workbench: The Base is Finished

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 …

Was it the wrong process or the wrong tool?

I have been a woodworker for more than 33 years and during these many years, and as you would expect, I have learned a lot about woodworking. I like to think that I can simply look at an interesting piece of furniture and, in my mind, begin to build it. Run through the steps I’d take to create my version of it. For me, part of the fun of woodworking is coming up with a sound process for making an object. I posted the photo above on Instagram and was proud of what the photo portrayed. The image shows the front and rear stretchers for my new workbench coming to life. There is an organized workbench, my new tool cabinet in the background and the stretchers well on their way towards completion. The photo made me smile for these reasons, but also because I had conquered a design dilemma which had been secretly troubling me for several weeks. My dilemma: Find a better way to cut the wedge mortises on the front and rear stretchers. …

Moravian Workbench: Leg Assembly Is Complete

It has been a long, long time since I last reported on the progress with my Moravian workbench. I have been taking my time cutting the four different leg joints to ensure I get them right (or reasonably close to right). My methods have relied heavily on power tools for the bulk of fabrication and then gaining a tight tenon fit using hand tools. Warning: this is a long blog post with a lot of photos. Let’s dive in by reviewing the various leg joinery… As far as I can remember, I have never made a through mortise and tenon joint. This joint is difficult to make well because the fit between the tenon and mortise can be easily seen. Making a nice, tight, square mortise and then duplicating that same shape on the mating tenon is time-consuming and even a little stressful. After having made the dovetail joint at the base of the leg (something I did twice before I was happy with the result), I made the angled mortise which will ultimately house …