Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Workbench Part VII - Bench Bolts and Shelf

I've been able to make a little progress on the bench and it has been nice but I wish I was further along. In the last few weeks I have glued up the short sides of the bench with the short rails and then pegged the joint with a bit of oak dowel rod.  The peg doesn't add a lot of extra strength but looks good.  Once the short sides were glued up it was time to figure out how to attach the long rails.  I had received a nice gift certificate to Lee Valley Tools ( from Moms and Pops for the birthday and was  perusing their website for ideas when I came across a product called knock-down bench bolts.  Basically it's a long hex bolt that goes through the leg and then captures the rail with an embedded cylindrical nut.  The diagram on the left from their web site shows how it works.  When I read the caption it made me giggle like a 10-year old boy.  "They said butt" I said in my head.  Ah...some things never get old.  These offer a nice option if I ever need to break the bench down and move it somewhere.  It took a while to drill through the legs and center the hole just right for the nut but I finally got it work with a little persuasion.  The pic below shows how the bolt looks on the outside of the leg.  You can also see the pegs that are holding the short rails in.  All in all I'm really happy with how it works and feels.  I've said it before and I'll say it again...this thing is solid.  I had Stella get on the rails and jump up and down just to prove it to myself.

After getting the legs all bolted together I started deconstructing an old pallet that I had brought in to the garage to dry off.   When Alex surprised me with a table saw for our 10th anniversary it was delivered on a nice big pallet.  And rather than chucking it I decided to put it to good use. 

Pallet wood has great character but it is a pain in the ass to take apart.  They use screw shank nails and those things don't want to come out.  As you can see there were quite  a few nails in the boards I did and I didn't even mess with the main oak frame.  Each one of those pieces had a minimum of 24 nails in various states.  I'm not that much of a masochist to try and tackle those.

After salvaging all of the boards that I could it was time to plane them down to a usable thickness of 1/2" to fit on the rabbet that I had designed in for the shelf.  As careful as I was in removing the nails I still missed one and it knicked the planer knives pretty good.  Might be worth investing in one of those wand-type metal detectors. 

After planing everything down it became apparent that I was going to be just short on covering the whole shelf area.  Oh well, I'm sure I can wrangle up something somewhere to make up the difference.  I'm leaving for Bogota, Colombia on Tuesday for a week long work trip so the bench will have to wait.   Happy woodworking and until next time!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Bit of Awesome

I thought I would do a separate post on the pure awesomeness I received on my birthday.  Alex surprised me with a "Woodworking With Sasquatch" t-shirt designed by my good buddy Keith.  I couldn't have asked for a cooler, more personal gift.  Thanks you guys!

The Workbench Part VI - Oh My Mortise

It's been far too long since my last post but I have been working ever so slowly on the many mortises for this workbench.  As tedious as it's been, I really feel that my chisel work has improved in hollowing out the 12 mortises.  For each one, I was able to take out the majority of the material on the drill press with a forstner bit.  The trickiest part was supporting the legs on the drill press table.  I've added making a drill press table to the never ending list of projects.

Once the bulk of the mortise is drilled out, the next step is to square the inside walls to accept the tenons.  This is where the true workout started.  I was really wailing on the chisel with the mallet to get through the end grain sections.  At first it felt like I would never finish as each mortise was taking thirty minutes or more.  However I got a little better and by the end I was able to get a 90ยบ face on the first or second try.

The real trick here as well is to have a super sharp chisel so it doesn't tear the grain up.  I can get my hand tools pretty sharp but I feel like there's still room for improvement.

After finally getting all of the mortises finished up I was able to do a dry fit of the bench and I must say I feel proud to have got this far.  This thing is heavy and should have no problem withstanding wailing on it with a hammer and chisel.

Also I had to get an "action" shot for a work profile and Alex was nice enough to snap a picture of me planing one of the short rails.  Next up is pegging the short rails to the legs and then installing some knockdown bench bolts on the long rails so that the bench could be taken apart and moved if ever needed.