It's time that this build started to look like a bench and not just a couple of butcher blocks on saw horses. It's time to assemble the base and introduce the slabs to it for some base on slab lovin...
With the legs and rails ready to assemble the only missing piece was to lay out the holes for the drawboring and to make some pegs. The layout for the drawbore holes was a quick and easy process of simply dry fitting the rails into the matched leg and marking the center of the hole that was already drilled into the leg with a matched brad point bit.
With each tenon marked it was a simple task to offset the holes in the tenon by about 1/16" towards the end of the tenon. The end result being as the peg is driven into the leg and tenon it will suck/draw the rail & tenon nice an tight against the leg.
With the rails and legs ready to assemble I turned my attention to making some pegs. I had initially intended to use some walnut dowel stock that I had left over from a previous project but forgot that the stock was actually 1/2"; not the 3/8" that I needed. Rather than place an order for some new pieces or head to the big box store for some oak dowels I opted to re-size the 1/2" stock I had on hand.
The easiest way to do this would have been to use a dowel plate to down size each peg. The problem? Well...I don't own a dowel plate. I had often thought about getting one for a top secret piece that I make (I may release it to the public one day...but till then all you need to know is that you don't need to know about it...you heard me!) but never got around to buying one. That's when I remembered something I read about another guild member just using some steel plate to make his own dowel plate (sorry but I can't remember who to credit for this...if it's you, let me know and I'll give credit where it's due).
Among woodworking another of my passions is Jeeping...and with that comes a serious amount of metal working...and with that metal working comes a stock of cut off/random pieces of box/bar/plate. As I dug through my scrap bin I happened across some 3/8" thick steep plate that I could make my own dowel plate out of. The best part is that it already had a 7/16" hole in it so all I had to do was drill another 3/8" hole and I was in business. I also took a few minutes to grind down each hole so that the edges were a nice and clean...and sharp 90*
For those of you in the know you'll no doubt recognize my ghetto fab dowel plate was actually a leaf spring shackle in its prior incarnation...look at me...I'm recycling...
Where I have never attempted a process like this before I was kind of running blind. I had the process that Marc laid out the guild build video but still had a few questions that in all honesty were best answered by simply jumping in and doing it.
I cut my dowels to about an inch longer than I needed and started with the process of downsizing them. My first attempt was...well...a disaster. I took a utility knife and trimmed one end down so that it would fit into the 7/16" hole and started whacking it with a hammer...yeah...not the best idea. I did achieve the end goal of shaving the dowel down to 7/16" but it also crushed the fibers and looked like a rabid walrus gnawed on it for a few hours. There was no way that it was going to put up with another round of whacking it through the 3/8" hole in one piece. There had to be another way.
That's when I turned back to Marc's example and tried shaving the over sized stock down a bit with my block plane...what an eye opener. A few passes of the block plane was enough to allow the stock to be hammered through the plate without compressing the wood fibers and gave me a consistently sized peg.
Oh yeah...it also gave me a chance to use the tail vise again...and how sweet it was...
Now that I had the pegs, it was time to assemble the base...hooooray!
Even though I opted to drawbore the entire base I also used a fair amount of glue in each mortise and on each tenon. I started by assembling each end of the base first to keep the pieces manageable until the very end. With each rail in place and the clamps on just tight enough so that I could make adjustments I double checked all measurements and made sure that the distance from the bottom of each leg to the bottom rail was the same across the entire base. With everything matching and in square I tightened up the clamps to a comfortable level and then slathered some glue into the drawbore holes and onto the pegs before driving them home. I was a tad skeptical about the whole drawbore process but am now a convert. After each peg was driven home the rails sucked up nice and tight against each leg without having to apply a huge amount of clamp pressure.
With the ends cooking nicely I turned my attention to the long rails. These were going to take a little more finagling than the ends. Rather than fight the entire base assembly I decided that the drawbore supplied enough clamping pressure that I could work on the piece end by end and then put the entire piece into the clamps, but I was still going to have to work fast.
With everything cooking nicely in the clamps all that was left to do was give it enough time to cure. In order to keep from wasting time I used the next 24 hours to clean out the bench's new home behind the table saw and next to the lumber rack. It's a good thing that I let everything sit for 24 hours, because I needed every minute available to clean that space out.
By the time the clamps were ready to come off, the bench's new home was clean, clear and ready for it to arrive. But before I put the base in its final home I took a few minutes to chamfer the bottom of the legs and give the entire base a good sanding. It also gave me the chance to prop up the slabs so that I could mark the mating mortises before positioning everything one last time.
Once I had the mortises marked in the top all that was left to do was to clean them out and get the bench into use.
After hogging out the mortises with a router I cleaned everything up with a chisel, making each one nice and square. Along with cleaning out the mortises in the slab I also cut the groove for the dead man in the front slab. With those tasks down it was just a matter of flipping the entire thing over and mating the base to the slabs. Although it really didn't matter, I took a few minutes to level the base prior to setting the slabs in place. Nothing bugs me more than having a tool or something else roll off a work surface because it's not level...so for me, it was more of a matter of satisfying my inner crazy than anything.
With the base leveled and ready it was time to flop the slabs into place and make things permanent. Thankfully I sized the mortises perfectly and the slabs dropped right into place...what a satisfying thud it was when they dropped home.
Up next: The Flatter the Better!
Total Build Time:
- 1.5 hours (lumber selection, transport & stacking)
-4 hours (Top Slab milling)
- 1.5 hours (slab prep and glue up*)
-0.5 hours (preliminary flattening of both slabs)
-0.5 hours (Final rough slab milling)
-0.5 hours (trimming end and bringing into flat & square)
-1 hour (cutting and finishing tenon)
-0.5 hours (milling and laminating end cap)
-2.5 hours (milling screw cavity support & routing screw cavity includes markup/layout)
-0.5 hours (routing mortise in end cap)
-0.5 hours (fine tune end cap fit)
-2 hours (drilling and installing end cap includes markup/layout)
-1 hour (milling rough stock for dog hole strip and laminate cap)
-2 hours (production of dog hole template & routing of dog holes)
-0.5 hours (glue up of dog hole strip and laminate cap)*
- 0.5 hour (glue up and alignment of dog hole strip to front slab)*
-0.5 hour (milling of front slab dovetail strip)
-1 hour (set up and layout of End Cap Dovetail)
-1.5 hours (milling and fine tuning of End Cap Dovetail)
-0.5 hour (front strip/dovetail glue up)
-3 hours (routing front slab & installing tail vise)
-22 hours (cleaning, coating, baking and cooling of Vise hardware)**
-1 hour (initial milling of legs)
-1 hour (leg glue up)*
-2 hours (milling base rails to final dimensions)
-1 hour (milling of legs to final dimensions)
-2 hours (setup and cutting leg tenons includes Mr. Cock Up)
-2 hours (layout & cutting of mortises in legs, drilling dog hole access & hold fast holes)
-1 hour (cutting rail tenons)
-2.5 hours (fine tuning mortise & tenons & dry fitting base)
-1.5 hours (cutting and dimensioning bench dog stock)
-1 hour (routing bench dogs to profile)
-0.5 hour (fine tuning bench dogs to shape)
-1.5 hours (bench dog assembly & fit-n-finish)
-0.5 hour (dimensioning & laminating chop stock)*
-3 hours (dimensioning & carving parallel guide)
-1 hour (fit & finish of parallel guide)
-2.5 hours (design & shaping of chop)
-0.5 hour (drawboring parallel guide & chop)
-2 hours (shaping & finish of parallel guides)
-4 hours (installation of nut block, parallel guides, phenolic bushing & fine tuning vice operation)
-0.5 hour (marking drawbore locations & drilling them out)
-1.5 hours (making dowel plate and dowels)
-1 hour (assembling the base)
-2 hours (leveling the base & mortising slabs)
-1 hour (fine tuning slab placement & attaching slabs to the base)
-84.5 hours total
*I havent included my clamp time in these figures if you want to add those figures in, each glue up sat for 24 hours
** Im including the baking of my vise hardware into my build. If you dont want to include this reduce the total by 22 hours