With the bench tops and aprons laminated and planed square and flat, the next step is to make the legs.
This is done firstly by surface planing a 2″ x 4″ lengths so that the faces that will be laminated are smooth. I opted to use four 2.4m lengths of 2″ x 4″. Planing one face smooth and flat and then cutting them in half so that both halves can be laminated to make a single 4″ x 4″ leg.
Using your bench tops and aprons as a makeshift workbench is handy at this stage.
Once all four lengths are planed, sawn and ready for lamination, glue and clamp them and leave overnight for the glue to set.
You will then have four legs that need to be planed square. This is the same basic procedure as with the bench tops and aprons, but should take less time as there is less to be planed. I used a Stanley No4 Smoothing plane for this. I found this quite hard and seemed to be forever doing “one last adjustment” that took things a little out of square. It got easier as I went on, so I think after some practice, this is certainly a process that you get an instinctive feel for.
Once the legs are prepared you then need to consider your stretchers. It was at was at this stage that I hit a small bump in the road….. Another design change!
As can be seen in the design I posted in part one (shown below), I opted for a design that is heavily influenced by Paul Sellers workbench design but with a few tweaks.
– Loss of the tool well and replacement with a small gap for insertion of a bench-long planing stop. This planing stop will be reversible so that when not being used it lies flush with the rest of the bench top.
– Additional stretchers across the length of the bench for added stability and the option of adding a shelf
– Reduction in both length and width
However, by the time I had reached this point, the project had ran far longer than I had ever hoped. Due to work, and the arrival of Olivia, a project that I had hoped would have a running time of 6-8 weeks had actually taken 6-8 months!
As a result I wanted to get the bench completed as fast as possible without cutting too many corners. So I altered my design to drop the long stretchers. This reverts to a closer incarnation of the Paul Sellers bench, and reduces the number of mortices to be chopped from 16 down to 8. Bonus!
I used a 1/2″ Chisel for chopping each of the mortices and positioned them so that they were each set the same distance from the face of the legs, ensuring the stretchers were secured squarely.
The next step was to cut the tenons on each end of the stretchers. I thought to try both methods covered by Paul Sellers in his YouTube videos, sawing the tenon and also making use of the grain within the wood to split the tenon. And I have to be honest, I preferred the splitting method much more than sawing the tenons. It is faster and felt more natural to me.
As with the Paul Sellers design, one of the leg frames had a top stretcher that sat flush with the top of the legs, with haunched tenons on each end; the other frame had a top stretcher that was set lower in order to accommodate an end vice at a later date.
Once the tenons were prepared I conducted a dry assembly of the leg frames to ensure that the joints were good and that they would be square and straight. The best way for checking that the frame is square is to check the internal diagonal measurement of the frames and ensure they are the same.
I was surprised at how easily the frames ended up square. In truth I think I was a little lucky at this stage, but I won’t complain when Lady Luck lends a helping hand!
Once I was happy with the leg frames and had carried out a few tweaks to get things seating nicely, the next step was to prepare the aprons recesses……..