Another New Fangled Workbench #6: The workbench grows legs.

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Blog entry by MichaelW posted 05-28-2008 05:11 PM 3447 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: The best thing I'll ever build... Part 6 of Another New Fangled Workbench series Part 7: Lessons and adaptations along the way »

We had some anxious moments the three weeks prior to Forest’s birth as he was positioned precariously for delivery so in the background (of life, not the picture) we had to be ready to move or call the ambulance. Fortunately we are pretty close to the hospital, but I was able to channel some of my anxiety into hand cutting the mortise and tenons for the leg joinery. Not my original plan as I was going to use the drill press and forstner bits to remove the bulk of the mortise, but the drill press is still on back order. So I am cutting my teeth on cutting by hand and sharpening up those chisels.

I have a set of forstner bits and did try using the largest one I would dare with a hand drill to cut out some stock, but found that I didn’t think it improved the process that much so reverted to doing the whole thing by hand. Dorje also suggested the bit and brace and I tried some of my smaller bits with pretty much the same result. Also made a trip to the neighborhood hardware store, but they no longer carry bits. I could have made the run to Hardwicks across town, but given the holding pattern circumstance with the baby, decided that was too far afield for my comfort (good thing too, because it went down fast, though we were able to drive sans ambulance). The mortise ended up looking like the 5 side of a die and I didn’t think the five holes benefited my progress that much. Even after I had them cut to size by the lines on either side of the piece, I found there was a lot of work to do to get the tenon to fit and a lot of touching up the chisels on the waterstone for cutting the Doug Fir. Two of my mortises I ended up over adjusting in the process and are a little loosey-goosey, though I plan to cut shims to compensate and then peg them with dowels as well should the drill press ever arrive at the store.

Here then is one of the nearly finished leg assemblies. I still want to peg the mortise joints to make them very solid and am planning on using the dowel to draw the tenon in a 64th or so more. Also have to bore out the keyhole for expansion on the interior of the slots. I am pleased that thus far they are remaining square and solid. The tenons extended slightly beyond the mortise so I used a flush cut saw and a little chisel and smooth plane action to smooth them out.

The two side by side. I have to finish off the mortise portion of the joint for the smaller leg, but nearly there and this will be ready to trim flush. Note the two shims on the floor near the loosey-goosey joints. I think I will be able to knock out a couple plugs though on the band saw to address the issue along with pegging them. To be expected the first time around I suppose. I did want to try the joinery out on the legs as I am thinking I want to do this style also for the two stretchers. The plan is for tusked tenon joints so it could conceivably be knocked down for a move into modular pieces should that day come. I thought if I screwed up the legs bad enough, I could just cut off the tenons and square up the legs and go back to the lag bolt joinery suggested in the original FW article, but I think the joinery is going to work. Have a few home improvement projects to tackle prior to the stretchers so it may be some time before I can post progress again, plus I am really enjoying Forest Fox of course and learning how to adapt to family life. Going pretty good so far though. The drill press is supposed to show up by mid-June though it was supposed to be in early May so well see, sometime after it arrives and I can get it set up I will be able to work on the main frame and bore the holes for the clamps in the big piece of stock, but one day at a time. Thanks for looking, I will enjoy your comments and suggestions.

-- Michael, Seattle, WA

5 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4798 days

#1 posted 05-28-2008 06:14 PM

Looking good so far!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4632 days

#2 posted 05-28-2008 06:39 PM

I agree with Gary that this is looking real good. I am surprised that you were able to get as much done as you have with the upcoming birth of your son.

Well done.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4904 days

#3 posted 05-29-2008 05:38 AM

Looking great Michael. It’s good to have a diversion sometimes. Cutting those joints surely provided just that. Somewhere along the way I missed what kind of drill press you ordered.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4807 days

#4 posted 05-30-2008 07:43 AM

Those joints are defintely going to work! You can get away with more than a 1/64th drawbore offset. In doug fir, you could probably even go up to 1/16th. I’d shoot for 1/32 to a 1/16th. I don’t think the 1/64th offset will be enough to give you what you’re after.

With regard to the brace/bits…do you have auger bits for the brace, and are they sharp???

This project is looking good…sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now…Enjoy it!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View MichaelW's profile


30 posts in 4558 days

#5 posted 05-31-2008 08:28 PM

Thanks for the compliments, I was able to get the last part fitted for the legs last night.

Jeff, I ordered a Steel City Drill Press. Would have been nice to have it for a few other things I am working on around the house too, but eventually when it does arrive I will appreciate it all the more.

Dorje, I do have some Auger bits, although the two biggest sizes were cut off by a previous owner presumably to use in a drill I guess. Once I have the bench together it will be nice to try out the bit and brace with a good set up to clamp workpieces. You are right about a lot on my plate, though it is a great full plate just now. I don’t know if Forest will take an interest in woodworking, but I have a hopeful imagination that before too long he will be making models or playing with an erector set or other type things along with Dad in the workshop.

-- Michael, Seattle, WA

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