Assembling the Base

Out of all the joinery for the bench, I think this wedged through dovetail mortise and tenon was the most nerve racking. Considering I haven’t been doing the hand tool thing for too long, successfully assembling this joint would a big accomplishment for me. Although it may not seem like it, the layout was a bit tricky to read off the plans and to make it more complicated I had to modify them to fit my dimensions. Looking at it now it doesn’t see like it should have been but I guess it was the intimidation factor for me.

Here’s the inside..

And the outside layout.

The “x” marked areas serve as straight through mortise. Now I’m not sure how most do their through mortises by hand but I found it easier to drill my holes out about 1/2ish the way through

And then (mostly) clean it all up

Before flipping it over and drilling out the rest.

Once the through mortise is all complete…

It’s time to work on the angled portion of the mortise. To do this I first established a kerf that is angled down to the marked line up to the edge on the opposite side.

And slowly work back until the kerf line is gone.

Next was tackling the inset portion. To make things a little easier I made a series of kerfs with my little pull saw. It’s a lot easier to pull away from the wall while sawing then push against it. From there is was a matter of carefully chipping out the waste until I was about 1/8″ away from my line.

After I get the last bit out of the corner I take it all down to my scribe line and clean things up as best as possible.

Yes, I know she’s not a looker but she gets the job done. Also considering I’m using such a soft construction grade pine, I do have to say that it did turn out well, IMO.

Next of course comes the tenon portion. For this I must admit I somewhat cheated. The total thickness for the stretchers are 2″. As you know, 2 x 6 dimensioned lumber is 1-1/2 x 5-1/2 and when I mill things up I usually get about 1-1/4″ to 1-3/8″ depending on the board. I didn’t want to put two of these pieces together and end up with 2-1/2″ to 2-3/4″ to have to thickness down to 2″. So I just bought some S4S boards from the big box store when I went back to get a couple more 2 x 6’s.

Layout for the mortise was much simpler. I’d love to show you but I was on a roll in the shop. Once I dry fit the first one and saw how great it fit I didn’t stop for pictures. Cutting out the tenons was  a much simpler task. It was just three cuts. The first cut was for the 1″ shoulder, then I went down the board and cut the cheek. Lastly was the angled haunched portion. Here is the end result.

After I cleaned things up and fit each joint individually, I assembled the whole base.

As you can see I  also fit the top at this point. I must say, I do love it. Although I knew the dimensions when I began building, it is a little smaller than I thought. By no means is that an issue, I still think it’s the perfect size for me and my projects. I just have to remember that the zoom function in SketchUp doesn’t mean larger in real life.

I’ve also already added the leg vise hardware and will write a post about that when that portion is all complete. I even made a couple of bench dogs and although she’s not complete, she is 100% useable. All that’s left with the base is adding the shelf, making the wedges and do a final clean up of all the joints and edges before setting her in place.

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Finishing the Wagon Vise

Well I was finally able to get back in the shop since arriving back home last Sunday. It wasn’t easy though. I kinda left the garage in a disarray when I left and it was no better when I got back. Yeah, that’s supposed to be my shop area… Well after three days of on and off again cleaning, I finally got my side of the garage in a usable state.

So now my first state of business was finishing the wagon vise! Before I can start on today events, let me catch up on what was done before I left to Yuma. After I finished my tenon part of my end cap it was time to cut out the mortises.

I don’t mean to brag but these mortises pretty much fit like a glove from the get go.

Next was getting the hole cut out for the screw portion of the wagon vise. Since the threaded rod has a 1″ diameter I established the center with a number 16 auger bit between the spacer and made my mark.

Once I had the center outlined I placed the threaded insert over the outline and traced it.

After it was traced I finished drilling the hole through the end cap…

And then I chopped down to the depth of the hardware and marked my holes and drilled for the mounting screws.

I did have to add a little bit of a chamfer to the edges to make room for the welding on the hardware. Once I mounted the hardware and went to dry fit it, I found out there was one little problem. Again, since the hardware was an after thought, things didn’t quite line up.

So I marked the edges of the hardware on the bench top the and cut back to the depth of the mounting bracket. Once everything was nice and flush, I left to WTI.

Now we come to today. There was one issue that was making this whole set up a real PITA. When you tightened the screw that secures the mounting piece on the moveable portion of the vise, it makes contact with the bracket before bottoming out which causes it to tighten the bracket rather then letting it spin freely. Therefore when you loosen the vise it would unscrew completely. To correct this issue I cut the top off a small screw and placed it in the screw hole to act as a spacer to give clearance between the bracket and screw.

Now I know in my last post about the vise I mentioned how I did not want to use any metal fasteners on this bench. Well while in Yuma I came to the conclusion that since I’m dealing with pine, to best reinforce the end cap it might be best to go ahead and use them. Luckily for me I already had some lag bolts and washers from a previous project that I never used. I marked for three bolt and drilled about 3/4″ down. From the center of the auger bit it continued with a 5/16″ drill bit for the 3/8″ bolts. I elongated the two back bolt about 1/16″ and 1/8″ respectively. Nothing fancy, just some paring away with a chisel.

Once it was all said and done and the end cap was mounted, I installed the vise hardware completely and cleaned up the top and edges. I used a 1″ dowel pegged with a 5/16″ dowel on both ends for the handle. Here she is closed…

And open…

In summary I would have done a lot different. First would obviously be to account for the size of the hardware before building. There won’t be too much flattening of this bad boy since parts of the hardware are almost already flush with the top. I would have also like to use up more of the vise length. There’s about four more inches of unused rod that could have been nice to have. Also, I don’t like how close the left bolt is to the edge but so long as it holds, I guess I’ll try to not let it bug me. Aesthetically, I may go back in a square up the elongated holes. You may or may not be able to tell but they are quite funky in shape.

Other that waxing the sides and runner grooves, I’m calling the wagon vise complete! I don’t have any bench dogs made yet but I did test it out by placing a piece scrap in the middle and clamping it down and boy does she hold. I couldn’t even budge the board! Next is getting the base assembled…

Well That Didn’t Work How I Intended…

When I first thought about building my bench, I didn’t intend on buying any vise hardware. My original plan was to just use a bar clamp on the leg vise and a spreader for the wagon vise. Well if I’m putting so much time and effort to build this bench by hand then why not spend the extra money for presentable hardware?

A couple of weeks ago I went ahead and ordered both the large single screw vise and scandinavian vise screw from Lie-Nielsen. Now if I were building the bench larger and of higher quality materials then of course consider I would consider something like Benchcrafted but since it’s just some construction grade pine, the Lie-Nielsen will do just fine. There was only one major issue…

Since the vise hardware was an after thought, things didn’t quite fit with my current wagon vise set up. The installation would have been impossible without another modification. The other piece of mounting hardware was also an issue but more of being able to drill out the holes for the screws.

There was no room to get anything in there so I was left with one option…

After I cut out the spacer I brought the wagon vise forward and clamped it so I could drill out the holes for the screw holes.

Actually mounting this piece concerned me also due to the fact that since it was going into the block with the dog hole already cut. No matter how I angled it, the left side looked like it was going to pass through. I opted for the top left since it would give me a little more room because the top is angled more forward. The screw just barley broke through but not enough to matter.

Next was getting everything square and ready for the tenons.

I know how I wanted the mortise and tenons to fit but not exactly how to reinforce (I’ll get to that in a minute) so I began the layout. First I knocked out the single tenon with a combination of my sash saw and a flush cut saw. I needed a smaller saw that could get in between the top. After that was done, I started on the shoulders of the larger tenon. When I started to cut the cheeks I had to stop because I kept going at an angle. I didn’t want to stand the bench on end and cut so I tried sideways and that didn’t work. So I began chopping it all away.

I went all the way down to about 1/16″-1/8″

and then crept up on my line with a block rabbet plane.

I flipped it over and when all was said and done, here she is.

Now here are my issues with reinforcement. First, I don’t want to use any metal fasteners. I’ve seen many benches with lag bolts on the end cap and I just don’t want to do that. Unless absolutely necessary, lag bolts are a last resort.

Next, my tenons are 1″ long. Does that offer enough space to insert 3/8″ dowels? If they were centered on the tenon, there would be 5/16″ on each side of the dowel. That just doesn’t seem like enough of the tenon for proper reinforcement. I’m not planning to clamp boards with enough force to bow them so maybe it would be enough?

Lastly is the design aspect. I went with a shorter shoulder on the side more near the wagon vise because I wanted to get a dowel in as close to the wagon vise as possible for better strength. Probably doesn’t matter but I went with it anyway. Here’s what I’m thinking…

As for dealing with expansion, I plan to glue the mortise and dowels on the left side of the vise for a solid foundation. Now I’m think that gluing just the dowel on the right would be okay and then opening up the dowel holes laterally for the last two would allow for any movement.

The total width of the end cap is about 11″ and I know there are formulas to figure expansion and contraction but I think it’ll be fine. Anyone disagree?

On a personal note. On Wed I’ll be leaving to AZ for 9 weeks for some training. My goal is to at least have the end cap and wagon vise installed as well as the left side of the bench fully assembled. Wish me luck!

Finishing the Front Half of the Top

If you read the last post you pretty much saw the completed top clamped. Here I’ll cover the dog holes and the top after it’s been cleaned up a little bit.

Making the dog holes was time consuming but not as bad as I had initially thought. I started out by first getting the angle of the hole with a bevel gauge.

I used all the dimensions from the plan to layout each hole.

Each piece had a dado cut out first. Once done, I tried my best to cut as deep into the face of the dog hole so I could remove as much as possible, as cleanly as possible. The rest was a matter of chipping out the remainder until all was flush with the bottom.

Now it was time to repeat those steps 8 more times. Skip ahead a bit and were back to everything being clamped up. Here it is fresh out of the clamps.

First task was getting the overhang cut flush with the rest of the bench. Then I wanted to find out how much things had shifted during the glue up. I pulled out my winding sticks and things didn’t look too bad.

I planed the top 45° both ways, transverse and then finally along the length. The end result was looking mighty fine.

Here’s a close up of the wagon vise. While it would’ve looked even better if I hadn’t messed up, I’m real happy how it turned out.

It hasn’t been flattened 100% nor has it been cut to it’s final dimensions and it won’t be until the other half is done. Probably not until it’s actually mounted on top as well. The only thing is that I don’t plan on finishing the top until the end. Time to start working on the base.

Making (most of) the Wagon Vise

The groove for the moving part of the wagon vise will ride in  is 3/4″ wide, 1/2″ deep, 1-1/8″ from the top and is 9″ long. Again I wondered if I should flatten the top before marking my lines and again I figured I’d be okay. The bench is only made of pine and if it didn’t work, at least I’d know for next time without ruining some quality wood. I measured from the line I marked that would be my final dimension on the opposite end to where to the wagon vise would start and end. I marked my lines and another set about 1/4″ extra and removed the waste.

I used a router plane and chisel to get this done. I defined an edge about 1/16″ in from all the lines of the groove with a chisel and then got the waste out using the router plane. Once I was down to depth, I switched back to a chisel and began paring until I reached my line. Definitely not the prettiest but it’ll do. By the time I got to making my third stopped groove, I was a little more efficient at getting it done.

Yes, there are only two grooves for the vise but due to my mistake, I had to cover one, and make a third. The third was actually the easiest but shouldn’t have been necessary. It was open on one end so I didn’t have to worry about a stopped end at both sides.

Here’s the before…

and now the after…

Making both the moving assembly and spacer was a matter of using the cutoff parts. I did have to make a dog hole first but I’ll cover that in my next post. So after laminating the boards I cut the required sized for the moving piece and squared each up best as possible. I does seem a little small but since I don’t intend on cranking down too much pressure, I think the size should be fine for what I need. I mean it won’t be Benchcrafted worthy but it’s good enough for my first bench.

Next on my list is making the grooves for the runners. There are two pieces for the front and back that will be set flush with the block to ride along in the grooves of the bench. Getting the waste out was a little more of a PITA than I first imagined. The end grain was a real pain to deal with. So I made a series of saw kerfs to aid in getting it all out with a chisel.

Once I got about 90% of it out, I came back with the router plane to get the bottom flush. It’s definitely not the best looking but it does what it needs to do.

When it came to the runners, I was gonna make them out of some quartersawn red oak but as I was going through my scrap bin I came across some 3/4″ square bloodwood from a past project that never got built. I just cut them to length glued them in place as is.

Once dry I used a tenon saw to cut the runners as flush with the block and then planed them down flush.

Not sure if it matters or not but I softened the corners with a chisel in hopes to give it a smoother glide. I had dry fit it in the bench by clamping the front and back of where the grooves are and realized it was too tight within the bench. I used the rabbet block plane and took some off the sides and a chisel for in between the runners. After a few more dry fits, it was time to make it final.

 

At first I had planned on buying a Scandinavian Vise Screw from Lie-Nielsen but I have another idea in mind. It’s a much cheaper route and hope it works but I won’t divulge just yet. You’ll have to stay tuned to find out.