I got the little guy finished this afternoon. I had trouble getting the leg joints right yesterday, but practise makes perfect and I was improving by the last one.
First step was to cut a cheek out on the legs so they would fit into the slots cut out in the top. Glue and screw and the bench stands up by itself, though I wouldn’t want to put too much weight on it at this point.
Very blurry photo below to show the leg joint – sorry, but the camera’s old and doesn’t have all these fancy auto-focus gizmo’s to do the work for me!
Once all four legs were on I put a couple of side rails in, just clamped in place and a screw in each to hold them.
Now I should have recessed these rails into the legs to add strength, but I had originally planned to put them on the outside and so glued up the legs in the first step…these things you learn for next time I guess. A couple of front rails as well and it’s looking good.
It’s not quite as rigid as it could be, and there’s a space begging for a tool tray there, so I nailed a piece of scrap pine to the bottom. It tightened it up nicely and also gives me a spot to put things like my square and marking knife while setting out cut lines.
Now it’s ready for finishing – or is it?. I’d planned to use a bench hook when making crosscuts, but that takes a lot of perfectly good bench out of play and also makes the cut higher than I wanted. But I don’t want a stop in the road if I’m making a rip cut or using this as a seat. How do I make it work so I get a crosscut stop without having it in the way all the time?.
The answer was to drill a couple of bench dog holes with a forstner bit just slightly bigger than a piece of old broom handle I had around. Then I cut a couple of short lengths and slightly rounded the ends to help stop them splitting and set them in place. A tap with a rubber or wooden mallet puts them flush with the bench, a tap from below brings them into place for crosscutting.
So it was all built, and then just needed a coat of something to protect it. I used a mix of one part liquid beewax to 1 part walnut stain to 5 parts boiled linseed oil, rubbed it in then took the excess off once it stopped soaking it up. Then another layer of beeswax and a bit of a buff to make it look nice.
Below you can see it set up for ripping
and then for crosscutting.
I actually split the line on both cuts which I’ve never done before, so that result proved that this was a good project to get done. I still want to make a partner for it so I can use it to support longer boards and as an assembly bench when needed, but I’m hoping that now I have this to make most of the cuts on the process will be faster. I’m very pleased with this little bench though.