The Holtzapffel Workbench – Day 11

(Part 9 of a series)

We’re cooking with gas now.

On Tuesday I was able to get some serious quality time in the workshop to make more progress on the workbench. On my last day in the shop I had all the tenons done (aside from one I forgot about, as seen in the picture from the last part of this series) and I had completed one mortise.

All the mortises are now complete.

Once I decided to use my cordless drill to hog out a majority of the waste with a forstner bit, the process went a lot faster. They don’t look particularly pretty, but they are done. I need to do some tuning on the tenon shoulders to get a snug fit, and to measure everything for square, but the base is about as done as it needs to be right now. Clean up the tenons, do the drawbore dowels on all the joints, and chamfer the bottom of the legs. That’s it. It took me about five hours to do the remaining seven mortises, and the index finger on my non-dominant hand is reeling. The edges of the unsharpened portion of the chisels are super sharp themselves.

Basically, the process went like this: I took a leg section, and measured 6″ from the bottom, for where I wanted the bottom of the stretcher to be. On almost all of them, I just scribbed it from the original mark I made after lining the legs up. I then took my try square and measured several things on the stretcher, specific to the side that was going where – distance from inside shoulder to outside shoulder in three dimensions, and the width of the tenon. No numbers here, just transfering the distance on the try square. Made it foolproof. I marked my lines with my knife for more exacting measurements. I then drilled three holes in the leg with the drill and forstner, and used a combination of my bench and mortise chisel, along with my round mallet, to whack out the waste. They aren’t pretty, but they are done. Some are really loose, which is why the dowels will be a tremendous help. As long as I have a good seat on the shoulder, and the base is square, I will be just fine.

I did run into something I should have expected. Well, I did expect it, but didn’t plan for it – the tenons meeting in the leg. I should have cut one set of tenons shorter than the other, but it was fixed on the fly. Not an issue, just when you are doing it take that into consideration. 2″ tenons are too long for at least one in each leg.

You can see here that everything fits together like it should, in general. That part of the planning was spot on. I get the joints to fit a little tighter, and it’s going to be a nice solid base. Still unsure about a shelf, but I’m leaning toward a piece of ply cut to fit…perhaps with a lip. Before it gets completely put together with dowels and glue, I will put the dog holes in. I’ll put some on the back legs as well for whatever reason might come up in the future. Won’t negatively impact the bench at all.

You know, I didn’t think to double-check the measurement of the legs at the top, to see if the bench width checks out. Will do that today and report back.

So, it’s time for the top. I checked all the boards on Tuesday and only one was still reading over 14%. I’m not concerned about it. I will joint, rip, joint and plane all the remaining pieces to the correct dimensions at the same time. I’ll simply toss or otherwise repurpose any boards I deem unworthy. I’m hoping I can get started on this Thursday morning. The best thing to do would be to prep all the boards at once, but we’re talking a lot of boards. At least 20. For the mortises in the top, I’m considering whipping out the router to make them a bit cleaner.

Aside from flattening the top, this ranks up there with the scariest proposition of the build. Screw the top up, and I have to start that part over. With this part, there’s a lot less tolerance for error. The big step will be to join the two 12″ pieces together at the end as evenly as possible.

I included one lame pic of the base dry-fit. I’ll spare you the picture of my mangled finger. You can see the knots I’ve had to try and hide as best I could. You’re looking at the left side of the bench, with what would be the front, to the right. What you see here would be hidden against the wall.


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