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Moravian Bench Reimagined #5: Over and Under Planning

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Blog entry by MagicalMichael posted 10-18-2019 12:57 PM 487 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Which Bench, Part 2 Part 5 of Moravian Bench Reimagined series Part 6: Going to the dogs »

I thought I had posted this a few days ago but when I went looking for comments, discovered it was still waiting for one more click of a mouse.

In mathematics two negatives make a positive; in ethics, two wrongs don’t make a right. In woodworking two mistakes never seem to cancel one another out. Sometimes we make mistakes from carelessness, a slip of the saw or chisel. These are almost always repairable with a minimum of effort. Planning mistakes, on the other hand often haunt us for days and sometimes through the whole process.

I spent a lot of time trying to decide how long my bench should be. I measured and remeasured my existing bench, 1900mm (75”) which felt like the minimum. My out feed table, 2134mm (84”) looked longer than I needed. I measured the space the bench should go in. Took note of the width of the large sliding window and window trim it would sit under. I measured from the door at one end to an electrical outlet at the other end. While still thinking of the Roubo I settled on 1980mm (78”). I also spent a lot of time thinking about which wood to build with. I am tired of building heavy things in Maple. My heart went to a Red Oak base and a White Oak top. Then I looked at prices. 8/4 White Oak is $7.25 a board foot and quarter sawn an astounding $10.00! Not in my budget. I finally settled on 8/4 Ash for the top and laminated 5/4 Ash for the base at $3.75 and $3.25 respectively.

So I trundled off to my favorite supplier, The Tree House Hardwoods & Millshop. They had a decent selection of 8/4 but not much 5/4, which they said would be in next week. Next week the same story. However the 8/4 was all 12’ long. With legs that were specked at 938mm (37”) it looked like a 78” bench would involve a lot of left over material. So all my planning went out the window and as I stood looking at the timber I decided on a 76” bench with two 2” end caps and a 72”top. So I went ahead and bought $148 of 8/4 The third week, still not much 5/4 to choose from. I needed a plan B, which turned out to be Poplar, of which there was plenty of high quality to choose from at $2.35. $48 worth looked like enough for the legs & rails. I was remembering, correctly it turned out, two long pieces on my rack which would make the two stretchers. Probably more than a full work days worth of measuring, drawing, and head scratching all for nothing.

While I was obsessing over length and material I all too casually re-sized the stretchers to a more visually pleasing 54mm x 100mm (2” X 4”). I discovered, much too late, why that was a very bad idea. After I had laminated the leg with the stretcher through mortise built in (I can’t imagine why Will Myers doesn’t do this.) I realized that chopping out the four 100mm mortises for the tusk tenon was going to be a lot harder than a 75mm mortise would be. Further, when I looked at the two boards from which I had planed to cut the rails, I discovered that they were 155 – 160 mm wide, so there was no way to get two stretchers, including the shoulder piece from them. Ugh. More head scratching. One option was to buy two more boards and struggle with the 100 mm mortises at a 15 degree angle; the more appealing choice was to cut four pieces and glue them into the existing mortise, reducing them to 75mm. Unfortunately, my band saw had just enough drift to make the pieces slightly out of parallel, which then required some chisel and file work after they were installed. Another whole day of planning that joint would have been a bargain. After all this was done I discovered that my band saw table was out of alignment, probably done while moving it. Happy to have that fixed.

Any way, we forge ahead. Here’s the lumber all stacked up and ready for the dance.

And here it is a few days later.

-- michael



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