Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bench Build So Far

The current state of the build
So here we are about four hours of work time in, also known as 2 weeks of real life, and as you can see I have something that's starting to look like a bench a bit. The skirts aren't attached to the sides yet. I'm just holding them in place with the clamps to get a sense of the size of the bench in my space. I'm thinking I'm going to stick with the eight foot length. Was also trying to get a feel for leg spacing. I'm leaning toward something like a 15" overhang on each end.

Legs of laminated 2x6 with glue and screws
So the legs are just simple 2 x 6 laminations. The top section is left single so the skirt can be flush with the lower leg. I wanted my bench to be around 32" high so I made the legs 29" long. The single section is 10 1/2" long so the skirt can be attached and jointed without having to deal with the leg end grain while planing. Since my 2 x 12 skirts are 11 1/8" that leaves 5/8" above the leg top.

Half lap dovetail
Leg set laying out sockets
 So the short stretchers are half lap dovetailed into the legs. To make sure the shoulders of the tails were in the same place so the legs would be the same distance apart I started with all of the stretchers at 23" and marked all the tails out as though they would cover both laminations like at the bottom. I think this saved confusion and mistakes. The top stretchers have narrower tails to allow a bit more of the leg to remain since it is flush with the top of the leg. I set the lower stretcher to have about three inches clearance from the floor in case I wanted cut off the legs to make the bench a little shorter.

The tails were cut with my rip and crosscut panel saws and the sockets were cut with a panel saw for the angled shoulders and a jig saw to remove the waste to the baseline.

Cutting the tails 
Finished tail, glue and screws



The tails were test fit and trimmed if necessary with a wide chisel. They were then glued and screwed into place. I pre-drilled and countersunk the holes everywhere to prevent splitting.  I then trimmed the top tails flush with the legs since they stuck out.

Top tail assembly with skirt
The dovetails give quite a sturdy construction, even without glue and screws, and I did the half lap to provide a shoulder that would help bear the racking forces of planing. You can see above how the tail was trimmed flush and is assembled with 2 screws and glue. I've also seen this joint with a mortice and tenon and a straight half lap so there are other ways, the dovetail just seemed like a good solution to me. You can also see how the side skirt comes above the legs to allow for jointing. Maybe I'll get the skirts on tonight.

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