Mongo: my first real workbench #8: Joinery: working out the legs

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Blog entry by TheRiflesSpiral posted 05-10-2017 02:58 PM 864 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: There's no turning back now... Part 8 of Mongo: my first real workbench series no next part

Mongo’s legs are by far the most complex pieces, except perhaps the vices. They are responsible, obviously, for holding up the table surface but also for tying in the aprons and supporting the lower shelf. Clearances have to be made for the outermost ribs and bonus: there are no 90° cuts! Yay!

But this is why I made the gauge in update 6 and it was used extensively.

First step was to establish the top of the tenon at the correct angle. This is a through cut but I don’t have a timber saw so I ended up coming at it from both sides with my circular saw. That’s never perfect but no matter, the imperfection will be planed off when I surface the table later.

The next task was to establish the inner and outer faces of the tenon. With my Radial Arm Saw out of commission, I once again turned to the circular saw. (Bad bearings in the RAS, which usually holds my dado stack. That would have made quick work of this!)

Strike the line, set the depth and go to town… This is tedious. Nearly as tedious as laminating!

If you’re using this method, take care with your circular saw… I stayed away from the target depth as well as the stop line with the intent to clean it up with a chisel/plane. They’re just not accurate devices without the benefit of a track and even then it’s easy to stray off the line.

After that, I hammered out the big stuff and cleaned up with a chisel.

The last step was taking it down to the depth line and I did that with my #6.

Nice and clean! You can see that in squaring the face of the tenon to the face of the leg, I got partially into a glue joint… planing across glue is an odd sensation.

The front side of this tenon appears to be quite deep as compared to the face of the leg. This is because the face in this area will be relieved to make way for the apron, which puts the face of the leg flush with the apron after it’s installed.

Next I turned my attention to the sides of the tenon. The sides are angled at 18° to mirror the angle at which the legs are canted. This isn’t strictly necessary and I probably could have saved myself some grief by simply making them rectangular but where’s the fun in that?!

I couldn’t come up with a better way to cut these than with the hand saw so I put my new Diston to good use. I found out pretty quickly that it’s dull. Very, very dull. After the first tenon, I ordered a couple of files and dug my vice out of storage so I can sharpen it as soon as I’m done with the bench. In the meantime:

After establishing the sides, I followed the same process for the backs as I did the fronts. This very satisfying shot was my reward.

Somehow I either forgot to take pictures or lost the pictures of the next step, which was to 1) relieve the outer face of the leg a distance equal to that left behind in the apron after adding the dovetailed dado then 2) adding the dovetail detail to the edges.

I relieved the face using the dado head in the table saw and the router with the dovetail bit to add the detail. It was a bit fussy working out how to clamp and support the router but generally it was like adding any other edge profile where the bit doesn’t ride on a bearing. (That would be way cool, though… now that I think about it)

Again, I’m somehow missing pictures but the next step was a simple notch to make way for the rib, which I accomplished with a drill bit and chisel. I considered setting up the mortiser for this task but the small Shop Fox model I have has a comically small table and I think I would have spent more time in fixturing than I did with the chisel.

Two more details remain for the legs that I will hold off until after assembly: first is the length… I’m still on the fence there. Second is the dado for the lower shelf. After that of course will come whatever is necessary to fit the leg vice.

Next step: Mortises! Yay! (My chisels are screaming…)

-- Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

2 comments so far

View FoundSheep's profile


196 posts in 1061 days

#1 posted 05-10-2017 03:56 PM

Haha, I love the gif. The saw must be dull because I’ve been watching it for several minutes and that kerf is barely moving!

-- -Will, FoundSheep Designs

View TheRiflesSpiral's profile


18 posts in 1037 days

#2 posted 05-10-2017 08:30 PM

LOL yeah… on the Imgur page I labeled it Sawsyphus… forever rolling that stone up the hill!

-- Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

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