Monthly Archives: August 2013

I’m Irish…

I’m on vacation, and plugging away at my roubo workbench project.  I took a break to check my email as even though I’m on vacation I have to stay on top of a few important projects there.  I had an email from my Dad that I just had to share…

IMG_5465

 

I also glued up the long stretcher and the back two legs, removed the broken out lag bolt in the end vise (*that* was fun) and made a small correction to the template for routing the mortise for the Crisscross.  I’m getting really close to seeing this all come together today.

Tah-Dah!

Tah-Dah!

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Draw Bored Bench

Good progress this afternoon, even with having to run down to Santa Cruz for glue.

I decided to do everything I could to get ready to glue up the bench except routing the mortises for the Crisscross vise guide  The main job was to get set up for draw boring the legs and stretchers.

I had some “curly red oak” scraps left over from the leg vise disaster so I thought I’d make some oak pegs.  It was pretty straightforward, although somewhat time consuming to make all of the pegs.  I’ll have to order a Lie-Nielsen dowel plate someday, but I figured I could make one that would do the trick today.  I drilled two holes in a scrap of plain hot rolled steel plate, one 3/8″ (the finished peg size) and one 7/17″ (to use to rough dimension the pegs).

Layout Two Holes

Layout Two Holes

Drill Two Holes, one 3/8" one 7/16"

Drill Two Holes, one 3/8″ one 7/16″

Then I ripped up an offcut of the red oak, chamfered one end of a piece and pounded it through the larger hole, then the smaller hole.  It worked, but I was concerned about how much force I had to use.  I decided that it would be easier if the pegs were closer to the right size so I fired up the lathe and turned them all to a round shape before driving them through the steel plate.  It only took maybe a minute per peg to turn them round, so it seemed like it was worth it.

Rough Turned Round

Rough Turned Round

Drive the Turned Blanks Through the Plate

Drive the Turned Blanks Through the Plate

Pegs Ready

Pegs Ready

Once the pegs were ready I decided to drill the holed in the legs and stretchers.  I drilled all the leg holes, than assembled the legs with the stretcher, marked the location of the hole on the tenon, and then drilled the hole in the tenon offset 1/16″ closer to the shoulder of the mortise.

Peg Holes Drilled, Tenon holes are offset by 1/16.

Peg Holes Drilled, Tenon holes are offset by 1/16 Toward the Shoulder

While I was Drilling Holes

While I was Drilling Holes…

WHile I was doing this I was thinking about routing the mortise for the Crisscross guide, and the fact that the tenon is going to be right in the way.  So I decided to glue up the front legs and stretcher so IU can machine the slot in one operation, including cutting away the tenon at the same time.

Front Legs Glued Up

Front Legs Glued Up

Glued and Pegged

Glued and Pegged

I checked the assembly for square after I drove in the pegs and it was perfect.  By tomorrow morning this should be dry enough to cut the slot.  I think I can get the entire bench glued up tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Getting Ready to Install the Crisscross Glide

Yesterday I glued up the three layers for my leg vise chop.  You can read about the saga in my previous blog posts, but long story short – I want to leave the lamination in clamps as long as possible.  I’m using the glue drips I scraped off as a gauge, the thick ones are still slightly rubbery.  I’m going to wait until they are completely hard, or until tomorrow at noon when I’ll probably run out of patience.

The next steps on my bench are to:

  1. Make the grooves for the Crisscross and instal it
  2. Drill the holes for the vise screw and mount the nut block
  3. Drill holes for drawboring the stretchers to the legs
  4. Make up the drawbore pegs (and a tool to make the pegs)
  5. Assemble the bench

I can do the first two steps on the bench leg, but I need to wait another day for the chop lamination to dry before I can really finish that.  But I was thinking about how I was going to make the slot and decided to use a router to hog out the material.  Rather than try to freehand this, or use some sort of fiddly fence setup I decided to try pattern routing it.  So, of course my day started with making a template.  Which now has to dry for at least a half dozen hours.

I did a quick sketch, I’m going to use a 3/4″ guide bush with a 1/2″ bit, so the math is pretty easy – the template opening needs to be 1/4″ larger (1/8″ all around).

Quick Sketch for the Template

Quick Sketch for the Template

The simplest way I could see to make this was to edge join some sheet goods.  MDF I could have just edge glued, but all I had on hand was the leftover cheesy Home Despot plywood.  I cut out the four pieces, and cut a notch in the end.

Parts Cut

Parts Cut

I decided to use some biscuits to assemble this.  I’ll use plenty of glue on the joints, but the biscuits should provide enough strength for this to hold together to route two parts.

Biscuits Cut

Biscuits Cut

I slathered everything with plenty of glue and clamped it up.  Now I need to leave it alone until I’m ready to cut the mortises for the Crisscross glide.  This should make the process dead simple.

Template Glued Up

Template Glued Up

While I wait for the template and leg chop to dry I can start on the draw bore setup.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Leg Vise Laminate, Lament

After the miracle of the cupping and bowing with the red oak plank I bought for the leg vise (I’m calling it “curly red oak” now) I was resolved to get a piece of 12/4 something and avoid any worries about gluing up a thick enough leg.  I have time this weekend and a few days off work this coming week and I want to finish my bench.

I stopped by Global Wood, Southern Lumber and Jackel Enterprises — the three main hardwood yards in my area, but no joy.  Southern had 12/4 Poplar, but at $9 a board foot I would just feel taken advantage of.  Global had 12/4 Mahogany, but it was $18/bf.  More than I wanted to spend (for reference, the chop needs about 6 bf total).  Anyway, I struck out at all three places, so I’m proceeding with Plan B.

After letting the curly red oak planks acclimate (“warp”) for a few days I machined them flat again.  The thick board hadn’t moved much at all, just a slight cup.  The thin board had a twist and a cup.  I jointed the face of both, then thickness planed them to make sure they were flat on both faces.  I also dimensioned a piece of Claro Walnut that I bought on a whim six or eight months ago.  Then it was time for lots of glue and clamps.

I oriented the growth rings in opposite directions on the curly red oak, used more glue and more clamps, and will leave this sit at least 24 hours.  The finished stack is exactly 3″ thick.

Add Glue to Adjoining Faces

Add Glue to Adjoining Faces

Spread Evenly

Spread Evenly & Stack Face-toFace (Note the big checks)

Add Glue to Adjoining Faces on Next Layer

Add Glue to Adjoining Faces on Next Layer

Spread Glue and Stack Face-to-Face

Spread Glue and Stack Face-to-Face

Add Clamps and Leave Alone Until Tomorrow

Add Clamps and Leave Alone Until Tomorrow

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 5 Comments

Gumption Traps

In Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert Persig writes about (among other things) what he calls “Gumption Traps”.  In short, these gumption traps are things that prevent you from moving forward on a project because of some problem.  This occurred to me as I’ve been pondering the dilemma that is my leg vise.  It’s all too easy to get embroiled in the problems, and it’s important to be able to step back, problem solve and move forward again.

I’ve decided to press forward with the Crisscross.  The fix for the problem of weakening the stretcher tenon is not a big deal, I’ll make a brace to reinforce that one joint.  Not a big deal.  In fact I just went out to the shop to glue-up the now-acclimated pieces for my leg vise.  Guess what?  Turns out “acclimated” is a five dollar word for “warped”.

This is what they call "acclimated"...

This is what they call “acclimated”…

Now, getting rid of this cupping isn’t a big deal, but I’m already under where I should be in terms of the necessary thickness for the vise chop.  By the time I remove wood from both faces of both boards I’ll be at least 1/4″ under, maybe more.  So, I can pick up a scrap of 4/4 red oak and laminate three boards together for the chop, or I can start over and just get a piece of 12/4 something.  I’m leaning toward the later, although it means that my expensive piece of 8/4 red oak was a waste.  In hindsight I think this board was badly dried.  I noticed several bad checks in it when I planed it, including one that goes completely through the 4/4 thickness.  Rats.

I need about 6 board feet of 12/4 wood.  I know Southern Lumber has 12/4 Poplar for $9/bf (which is really expensive for Poplar and typical of their prices), I think I saw some 12/4 Swamp Ash at Global Wood recently for a bit less.  I’ll have to check that out tomorrow.

Offsetting this little bit of bad news, my Crisscross arrived yesterday, a day early (thanks USPS!)  It’s nice, and I’m looking forward to putting it into service.

Crisscross Parts

Crisscross Parts

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 10 Comments

Well, this is going to be a problem…

So I was reading through the instructions for the Crisscross guide I ordered for my leg vise when I was struck with a sudden feeling of dread.

The mortise for the Crisscross mechanism needs to be 19.5″ long, 1.75″ wide and 1.4375″ deep.  As I was staring at the diagram in the instructions I had that sinking feeling…  Can you see it yet?

Crisscross Layout

Crisscross Layout

Here is a hint.  What is going to intersect the mortise (slot) for the Crisscross?  Why, the tenon on my front stretcher of course.

If you look closely at the picture below you can see where I’ve drawn in the slot for the Crisscross and the mortise for the stretcher.  Now, if I hadn’t already cut all of the mortises for the stretchers this would be relatively easy to avoid.  Just move the tenons to the beck of the stretchers.  However, I have already cut all the tenons and chopped all of the mortises.  Dang.

The real life problem

The real life problem

Well, first, I can rout out the slot for the Crisscross until I’ve assembled the base because I’ll need to cut through the tenon.  That also weakens the tenon, and if this bench is anything less than absolutely rock solid then it’s a fail.  I can (and will) drawbore the joints, and that should help reinforce this joint.  I could also drive some long lag bolts through the leg into the end of the stretcher (or use barrel nuts) to reinforce it, but that strikes me as sloppy.

Grumble, grumble.

What other options do I have?  I could change directions and not use the Crisscross.   But I don’t want to do that.  I could re-make this one leg and the stretcher, but I don’t see that happening either.

Thinking out loud (so to speak) I expect I’ll follow these steps:

  1. Drill all the base parts for drawbore pins
  2. Drill the holes for the vise screw in the leg and chop
  3. Machine the slot for the Crisscross and test fit it
  4. Assemble the base and top, glue, wedge and drawbore everything
  5. After the glue has cured use a router to clear out the protruding tenon
  6. Assemble the leg vise and slather on a finish

If the bench loosens up in the future I’ll have to deal with it then.  I can always screw on some plywood shear walls, because we all know that would e attractive.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 4 Comments

Fixing the Leg Vise

I decided that I needed to properly fix the leg vise lamination.  I really didn’t want to saw it apart, but that’s the only way to fix it I could see.

Ready to Resaw

Ready to Resaw

I ripped it along the glue line easily enough (nothing like having a a WWII vintage 7.5 hp DoAll at your beck and call)

Ripped

Ripped

Then I planned both the sawn face and the cupped faces flat.  Unfortunately that leaves me just under 2.5″ of thickness.  The thinner board also had a 1/16″ bow end-to-end after sawing it free that I had to take out before feeding it into the planer.  According to the instructions for the Benchcrafted Criss-Cross, I need a leg chop at least 2.5″ thick because of the large slot I have to cut into it for the mechanism.  I don’t know if the 1/8″ that I’m shy really matters, or if I should add more thickness.  Or maybe recess the mechanism 1/8″ deeper into the leg than the chop.  Maybe it’s worth an email to Jameel at Benchcrafted?

Hi, I'm a troublesome bit of timber and I'm hanging out here "acclimating"

Hi, I’m a troublesome bit of timber and I’m hanging out here “acclimating”

I’d like to tell you that my day in the shop went well after that.  I’d really like to tell you that, but I’d be lying.

First, and this is slightly embarrassing, I decided to install the end vise while my boards sat and reflected on their little attitude problem.  I slid the stool over towards the end of the bench and made to sit down.  Somehow I tripped or lost my balance and fell flat onto the small of my back.  I had a bulging disk that laid me up for a couple of weeks several years ago, so this was a little frightening and fairly painful.  I iced my lower back and took it easy for the rest of the day.  I’m sore, but I don’t think I’ve done anything too serious to my back.

Later I decided to go finish installing the vise.  Moving very carefully so as not to tweak my back, I put in the two screws into the face of the vise, then started to put in the lag bolts that attach the vise to the bottom of the bench.  I started them both by hand (having previously drilled pilot holes and run the bolts in when I test fit it) and put the socket wrench on the bolt to tighten it down.  It snapped, without any pressure on the wrench.  It wasn’t even tightened down.  I think the gods were sending me a message, although I’m not sure if the message was “go lay down” or “don’t buy lag bolts at the hardware store”.

Good. Grief.

Good. Grief.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 5 Comments

Leg Vise Disaster

Oh. My. God.

Yesterday started off innocently enough.  I was up at the crack of dawn, had my usual six cups of coffee, read all of my favorite blogs and dealt with a few issues from work.  I grabbed a quick shower and drove down to Jackel Enterprises, the local specialty lumberyard, to pick up a plank to make the leg vise.  I wanted something nicer than a hunk of the typical new growth green doug fir that I’ve used for the rest of the bench.  I picked out a piece of 8″ wide 8/4 S2S Red Oak.  At $7.50 a board foot it was more than I really wanted to spend, but I figured the $90 board would give me a beefy leg vise and a piece for the chop on the end vise.

Back in the shop I cut two 35″ lengths and jointed one face and one edge.  They were actually very flat already, no rocking on the cast iron jointer face, but I made a pass just to be absolutely sure as I wanted to laminate the two together to make a thicker blank for the leg vise.

Boards Faced for Laminating

Boards Faced for Laminating

I poured out the glue, Titebond III which I’ve used for almost everything I’ve made, and rolled it out to get an even coat on both faces.  Maybe I should have used a touch more?  I had a good even coat though, and a a bit of squeeze out all around, so it seemed right.

Glue Applied

Glue Applied

Then I clamped it up and left it for three hours.  I probably should have left it overnight, but I wanted to make progress…

In the Clamps

In the Clamps

I pulled the clamps and machined is square on all six sides,  It looked pretty good, and it was time to call it quits for the day.  This morning I went out to the shop to start laying out for the vise hardware and found this waiting for me.

Rut Roh...

Rut Roh…

What happened?  Clearly I should have waited longer for the glue to dry.  Maybe I should have used a bit more glue.  Maybe the glue went bad?  And I guess I should have given the board time to acclimate to the shop after milling it.  But still.  The board was flat to begin with and I took a really light cut from the face.

More importantly, what do I do now?  Do I work more glue down into the gap and clamp it?

Or do I saw it apart at the glue seam, mill both parts clean and square, let them acclimate, and re-glue it?  I suspect that’s the right answer.  It’t more work, and I’ll lose some material all around, but will probably have a better result.  Maybe fresh glue too.

I checked the outer faces of the boards, and they are both cupped outwards.  More on the thinner board, and of course more where the gap is widest.  What a nightmare.  Lesson learned I guess.  Let the stock acclimate, rough mill it, let it acclimate more, final mill it.  Sigh.

In other news, I ordered the Benchcrafted Criss-Cross Guide.  I looked through my metal stock with the intent of making something like this and decided it wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time.  It would take me at least 3 or 4 hours to layout, cut and machine the steel stock for this guide and at about $100 for the Benchcrafted version I’d rather just buy one ready to go.

Hopefully it will arrive by next weekend so I can get this show on the road.  Today I’ll be re-sawing and acclimating my leg vise stock.

Criss-Cross (Applesauce)

Criss-Cross (Applesauce)

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 6 Comments

Short Stretchers

I know, it’s a silly thing to post a blog update about.  “Hey guys, lookie see!  I made two stretchers”.  But, you know what?  With all four stretchers made and fit, the end is in sight..  I need to pick up some wood in the morning to make the leg vise and the chop for the end vise.  Once I have the leg vise done I’ll be able to glue up the bench, and I can imagine getting to that point this weekend.  Maybe.

The leg vise has me a little worried, specifically whatever mechanism I use to make the vise close parallel to the edge of the bench.  The two popular options are the parallel guide and the criss-cross guide.  The parallel guide is what I’ve seen most often, and it’s pretty simple.  It just requires a through-mortise in the leg for it to slide through, and a nice snug mortise in the vise chop.  But I’m concerned about getting the fit right, especially going through a 5.5″ thick leg.  The criss-cross seems like it would be easier to fit, and I can probably make it out of metal I have on hand already.  For the $100 that benchcrated charges you’re better off buying one in my opinion, but I want to get this to the next step this weekend and I already have a ton of metal stock.  I’ll have to poke through my stock, now that I’ve said that I bet I’ll find I don’t have the right stuff after all.

So today I started by milling up the replacement piece of fir I bought to the right dimensions.  It’s 3×6 nominal, but the finished dimension is about 2.5x 5.5.

Replacement for the stretcher I cut too short

Replacement for the stretcher I cut too short

I assembled the legs with the long stretchers, made sure they were square to the bench surface, and clamped the short stretchers in place.  I scribed the inside shoulders, laid out the mortises and tenons, and went to work.  I drilled out the waste in the mortises and cleaned them up with a chisel.  My mortises are a lot more accurate now.

Mock Up for Marking

Mock Up for Marking

I had to do a little paring on the tenons to get them to slide home – but not much.  They all seated nicely, I’m pretty happy with this.

Nice snug fit!

Nice snug fit!

The fit with the short stretchers looks pretty good to me.  I’m going to clean up all the the leg surfaces with my #8 plane before the final assembly.  Just a thin chafing to take of the year of shop dirt and dings they have accumulated.  I’m starting to get excited!

Short Stretchers Done

Short Stretchers Done

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 3 Comments

Mr Roubo Gets Stretchers

I made decent progress today on my workbench.  I got all the legs fit so they are square.  Unfortunately, several of them are loose.  When I glue it up I’ll drive wedges into the gaps to tighten everything up as best I can.

Four Legs, Four Mortises, Four Dovetail Sockets

Four Legs, Four Mortises, Four Dovetail Sockets

I dimensioned the stock for the stretchers using my jointer and planer.  This is the first power tool work (except for the jigsaw trick I posted) I’ve done on this project.  The material is 3×5 green Fir that I bought 18 months ago.  It’s dried some, but it also oozed a ton of sap.  Nasty stick stuff, it reminds me of climbing the neighbor’s pine tree when I was a kid.

I used a trick from one of Schwarz’ workbench books to help lay out the shoulders on the stretchers.  I used two spacers made from scrap to position the stretcher in the right place, then scribed the shoulder directly from the legs.  After making sure the legs were at plumb as possible of course.

Stretcher Mockup

Stretcher Mockup

Stretcher Mocked Up for Scribing Shoulders

Stretcher Mocked Up for Scribing Shoulders

While the stretcher was clamped in place I also marked the top and bottom of the stretcher onto the leg and then squared these layout lines across the face of the leg.  I made sure the stretcher would end up flush with the front of the legs.  The mortise is set back about 3/4″, and is 1″ wide.

Mortise Layout

Mortise Layout

In the interests of speeding the process up I used a dado blade in my table saw to rough in the tenons (GASP!) and used a block plane and chisel to trim them up to fit snugly.

Tenon, trimmed and ready to go

Tenon, trimmed and ready to go

The mortises I did the same as the ones in the top of the bench, but since I had a scribed line to work to from the mortise gauge they cam out a lot nicer.  Of course they are only 3″ deep instead of going though a 5″ bench top.

Blind Mortises

Blind Mortises

First Stretcher Done

First Stretcher Done

Now do it all again and I have the second stretcher in place.

Second Stretcher

Second Stretcher

The second stretcher didn’t take that long – maybe an hour total.  So, in theory, two more hours and I’ll be ready to start on my leg vise.  I’d like to say I stopped working out of a sense of familial obligation, but the truth is I mis cut one of of the short stretchers, so I’ll need to go to the lumberyard this week and get another piece of Fir for the stretchers.  And I’ll pick up some 8/4 stock for the leg vise and tail vise chop.  Something cheap but reasonably sturdy and less splintery than fir.  Poplar perhaps?

Awww, Snap!

Awww, Snap!  Too Short.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.