Posts Tagged With: workbench project

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

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The ongoing saga of Mr Roubo and his legs

I got a pretty good day of work in yesterday, but it still feels like I’m moving in slow motion.  I’m down to paring the socket for the last leg so it can drop in.  I think I may need to do a little fine tuning on one other leg too, as it’s not sitting exactly straight.

I am having mixed feelings about these leg joints.  First off, let me tell you that this fir is a pain in the neck to work with.  Chiseling the end grain to square up the mortises is tough going.  Especially deep in the mortise.  It dulls my nice LN chisel pretty quickly, and even with a very sharp edge it doesn’t pare well across the end grain.  Paring across the face grain with my big paring chisel is better, the LN is just too small to do a good job deep in the mortise.  And, for whatever reason I’m having to do a lot of work to fit the legs into the mortises.  The tenons aren’t as perfect as they need to be, and the scale of these parts really complicates things.

After all of this struggling to get the legs fit into the bench top, will it be worth it?  Right now I’m not sure.  Wouldn’t it have been enough to have stub tenons fit into blind mortises in the bottom of the bench?   And I still need to make the stretchers, leg vise and sliding deadman.  Grumble, moan, complain.

Part of my frustration is the time this takes, part is that I wish I could do a better job, and part is that at the end of the day this won’t be a beautiful workbench.  It will be sturdy, and a huge improvement over the Wobbly Wonder™ I’ve been living with for the past year or two.  But I can already imagine myself building its replacement out of a nicer material.  Something without knots, with a finer grain structure.  Even a better grade of Fir.

One more cuppa and I’ll muster the troops and wrestle this thing into submission.

Marking out the location for the legs on the bottom of the bench

Marking out the location for the legs on the bottom of the bench

Marking the location on the TOP of the bench after mortising the bottom

Marking the location on the TOP of the bench after mortising the bottom

It Fits

It Fits

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Left to my own devices, err… Chris’ Devices

Yesterday Christopher Schwarz wrote about how he did all four mortises for the legs in hie FORP bench.  In two hours.  I was shocked, it took me a lot longer than that to do my first one.  Granted, it was my _first_ one, and I was just moving pretty slowly so as not to screw it up.  Part of his “technique” was to use a jigsaw to cut out the waste from drilling and to kerf up to the wells.

Well, I’m here to tell you it works pretty damn well.  Instead of 15 or 20 minutes chopping out the waste, then paring to the walls I spent 60 seconds removing the waste and another minute or two paring the walls.  More kerfs in the ends walls is better.  A longer jigsaw blade might be nice, but not mandatory.

The hand sawing on the dovetail (not yet done in the picture below) went much better too.  I think I may be able to get this up on four legs, with stretchers, this weekend.  Wow.

Plate 11 Jigsaw - The Lost Tool

Plate 11 Jigsaw – The Lost Tool

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Roubo, Leg Mortises

Between you, me and the fencepost I’ve been dreading the mortises in the bench top for the the legs.  It just looked hard.  No, that’s not quite right.  It looked like something I couldn’t do without screwing it up.

I finally decided I didn’t care if I screwed it up.  So today I laid out the location for the first leg and started making chips.

And so it begins...

And so it begins…

I drilled the holes halfway through the top first, then started chipping out the waste.  That wasn’t too bad.  The drilling was pretty simple, too.

Holes Drilled

Holes Drilled

Waste Chopped

Waste Chopped

Then I flipped the bench over and did the same on the other side.  This is a heavy piece of wood, probably 250 pounds.  Or, I’m a lot weaker than I thought.  Or, perhaps, both.

Marking out the top side

Marking out the top side

The mortise wasn’t too bad, but sawing the sides of the dovetail socket was a pain in the neck,  Mostly because everything was wobbling, and I couldn’t get a decent stance.  Once the sides were sawn it was easy to pop out the waste and pare the bottom (more or less) flat.

Not my best sawing, but it was like doing it in the back of a pickup truck driving down a country road with all of the swaying

Not my best sawing, but it was like doing it in the back of a pickup truck driving down a country road with all of the swaying

And, viola, one leg fit.  I did a little cleanup after this picture to get it to sit the rest of the way down, and to sit square to the surface of the bench.  It’s slightly twisted, flush on one side and about 1/8″ proud on the other side.  I’ll square the up as a last step before finishing.

Now I need to do the other three legs, and stretchers, and the leg vise and I can put this thing to work.  I’m going to have a bonfire with the old bench.

One down

One down

 

 

 

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Roubo Bench Progress

I got a little time in on my workbench project, and just about finished mounting the end vise.  After turning lots of different options over in mind I decided to mount a standard (albeit heavy duty) Jorgensen face vise on the end of my bench.  I’ll add a large chop to it to hold the bench dog similar to Chirs Schwarz did on his Cherry Roubo bench.

The first order of business was to figure out where to put the vise (other than on the end of the bench).  I thought about putting the vise right at the front edge of the bench.  The downside is that then the closest leg needs to be shifted quite a bit inboard.  I also wanted to recess the vise to minimize top-to-bottom racking, and the would leave an ugly gap in the front of the bench.

Vise at the front edge of the bench

Vise at the front edge of the bench

I played with all sorts of different positionings, in the end I set the vise about 3″ back , so I could move the leg back toward the end.  I hope I don’t regret that later.

IMG_0891

Vise positioned as close to the front as possible without hitting the leg

Then I needed to decide how deep I should recess the vise into the bottom of the bench (that is, how close to the top I should move it).  I wanted to minimize the stress on it when using it like a tail vise (where all the force will be cantilevered from the surface of the bench top), but I also didn’t want to weaken the bench in any significant way.  I decided that 1.5″ looked about right.

How deep to recess the vise?

How deep to recess the vise?

I marked out the area to be removed on the bottom and on the end of the bench.

Material to be removed

Material to be removed

I removed the waste from the bottom using a router (gasp!), it was quick and easy.  For the material on the and of the bench top — the recess for the inner vise face — I used a chisel and popped it out the same way you might on a dovetail.

 

Main cavity cleared, time to grab a chisel and attach the recess for the inner face of the vise

Main cavity cleared, time to grab a chisel and attach the recess for the inner face of the vise

The vise dropped right in after a little clean up paring in a few spots.  The next step is to cut the mortises for the legs into the bench top.  I’m really nervous about that for some reason.

No woodwork tomorrow, Kolya and I are off to learn how to do stained glass at Kiss My Glass.  I’m hoping to be able to make one of the panels for my G&G sconces. but they have some fairly small parts and I might do better starting with a simpler pattern that I can finish in a day.

A decent fit

A decent fit

 

 

 

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Return To Roubo

About a year and a half ago I decided to do some woodworking, and with Roubo-styled workbenches all the rage that seemed like a good place to start.

I picked up a 6×9 salvaged Douglas Fir beam and proceeded to hand plane three sections of it square and glue up a bench top.  It was a unbelievable workout, complicated by knots and my inexperience with hand tools in general.  But I got all three pieces glued up, then squared up the entire slab on all six sides.

Roubo Raw Materials

Roubo Raw Materials

No One Mentioned Workshop Aerobics!

No One Mentioned Workshop Aerobics!

I picked up the wood to make the legs right away, but it was green – so I thought I’d let it dry for a few weeks.  Weeks turned into months, and eventually I cut the joinery for the leg-ends to attach to the top.  After probably a year at that point the legs were still damp inside.  The leg joinery was cut back in November of 2012. I guess I’m not in a rush to get this finished…

Leg Joinery Complete

Leg Joinery Complete

Anyway, today I spent a couple of hours organizing my shop spaces.  I moved the blacksmithing power hammer to the metal shop, and moved my $75 wood lathe to the wood shop.  Parts for cars that I want to build someday were hoisted into the attic space in the metal shop.  And the parts for the Roubo bench were hauled to the wood shop.  I started squaring up the stock for the stretchers – It’s kind of amazing how much resin has seemed out of these parts.  Ick.

I started laying out the locations for the right side “end vise” on the bench as well as the legs.  It’s all upside down in this picture, so hopefully I’ll get the end vise on the right end and the face vise on the left front.  I think the first step will be to mount the vise.  If I move it beck from the edge maybe 3″ the vise guide rods will be behind the leg, and I san move the legs more towards the ends of the bench – which should make it less tippy.  To mount the vise I’ll have to make a recess in the bottom of the bench, and in the end.  I’ll get to work on that next.

Next Saturday is the Stained Glass class, I’m looking forward to that.  I have my patterns for the sconces, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to do those in the class as it’s probably more intricate that they want in a beginner’s class.  We’ll see how that plays out then.

Upside-Down Mock-Up

Upside-Down Mock-Up

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Screwing Up

I cut all of the joinery on my workbench legs, with only one major problem.  One of the inside tenon faces had some extra material, which I tried to pare off.  It split badly instead and left something of a mess.

Opps…

I have been using a float-like file for tuning up these inside faces, I should have stuck with that.  I used it to smooth up the torn out area so I could see what I had to deal with.  Not pretty, eh?

I thought about just bringing the outside edge down to the same level, but that would have leave the tenon too thin visually — closer to the front edge the taper was even worse.  So I decided to glue in the shim and re-shape the tenon face.  I sawed off a thin slice from one of my offcuts and planed one face smooth.

Band-Aid

Then I slathered everything up with a healthy dose of Titebond III and left it clamped overnight.  I had enough clamps, how often does that happen?

Clamped and Sitting in the Sun

Then I went to town with my float and smoothed out the face.  It’s flat and true now.

Flat and Square!

The repaired tenon came out great, and the thickness is right on the money.  One of the other tenons came out about 1/8″ thinner than the rest – but it’s square and flat.  I think I’ll use wedges from the top (and a slightly oversize mortise just on the top 1″ or so) to make up the difference visually.  I think I’m OK on strength either way.

Next I need to square up the stock I have for my stretchers, then I’m blocked on the bench until I can con someone into coming over to help me lift the bench top onto my temporary workbench.

Leg Joinery Complete

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One Down, Three to Go

I spent a few hours cleaning up the shop, then spent a few hours helping a buddy work on a Cigar Box Guitar project.  He can play, I can saw and sand.

But in spite of that, I made a bit of progress on my workbench.  Baby steps, but I feel like I’ve finally stepped over the line in the sand.  I marked out all the joinery, plus drew in a giant cabinetmaker’s triangle to keep things lined up. Or maybe it’s a giant “caution” sign. Time will tell.

Ready For Sawing

I clamped the first leg in my shoulder vise, which is kind of a token effort.  It mostly didn’t move.  I pared in notches for “second class saw cuts”.  It’s pretentious, but I’m working my way up to second class.

Notched for “Second Class” Saw Cuts

I used my “Roubo Beastmaster” from Bad Axe for this.  It was a eBay score last year, and I’ve finally been able to put it to use.  My benchtop is 5″ thick, and this reaches all the way to the shoulder with maybe 1/8″ to spare before the stiffener hits the end grain.  It cuts pretty aggressively.  It’s work, but way less work that slinging the #8 Stanley around.

First Cut

I cut all of the shoulders first, then ripped the cheeks.  The tenon cheeks.

Everything Sawn

Then I had to get the hunk of waste out of the middle.  I chiseled in the actual shoulders, then used my giant mortise chisel to chop and pop.  I chopped down about a 1/4″, then chiseled in from the end grain to split out the waste.  It went pretty quickly.  I think that’s a 5/8″ mortise chisel, I haven’t measured it.  I don’t have a 1.25″ mortise chisel. but it would make a nice conversation piece.  By the way, I absolutely love that hammer, I picked it up based on Paul Seller’s recommendation.  I refinished the handle (it had stickers on it, and some kind of spray clean) and put a hard yellow face on one side, and a soft grey face on the other.  It’s got plenty of heft.  I use the yellow face to drive chisels, and the grey face to tap dovetails together.

I’ve decided that my regular chisels SUCK.  They are “Sandvik” brand, and they don’t hold an edge at all.  I sharpened my 1″ chisel, including a polished micro bevel.  25 degree primary bevel, 30 degree secondary bevel.  I could shave with it.  I tried just out of curiosity, and have a tiny bald spot on my arm to prove it.  “Woodworker Pattern Baldness” I think it’s called.  Regardless, before this leg was done not only was the chisel dull, it has a dozen tiny nicks in the edge.  The mortise chisel on the other hand was still sharp.

Chopping Out the Waste

I checked the faces and shoulders for square, they were pretty close, but I did need to tune them up a little.  I used a shoulder plane, my #4 smoother, a paring chisel and a couple of files/rasps.  I have one file that has teeth like a float, that worked the dest, and left a nice finish too.

Three More to Do

Tools of Mass Destruction, Laid for Tomorrow

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All Four Legs Even

I just finished cutting all four legs even to lengths. My sawing is getting better, but I still had to work the ends with a plane to get them square. Regardless, they are right on the money now and I’m ready to lay out the tenons to fit into the top.

20121110-181348.jpg

A couple of interesting bits.

First, I hate the “Craftsman” bench I’m using. It’s totally lame. The tiny little bolts that (more or less) hold it together keep loosening up and falling out. It was wobbling so much that I dropped a plane and a saw on the ground. It made me swear link a sailor.

Second, I’m not happy with my diamond sharpening system. I have the 8000 grit “stone”, but it doesn’t seem to polish the micro bevel at all. I even tried the back on the off chance I was using the wrong side. Fail. I went back to sandpaper for the micro bevel and have sharp blades again. I ordered some Shapton glass stones, hopefully that will work better for me.

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