Shop Remodel #34: Foundation of woodworking

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Blog entry by bearkatwood posted 01-13-2016 11:38 PM 1232 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 33: Four Ended Candle Part 34 of Shop Remodel series Part 35: All about that base! »

Just like a well built house, a well rounded approach to woodworking comes form a solid foundation and understanding of the principles of the medium. Understanding wood and how it will respond to your actions and finding a happy dance that will let you enjoy the craft instead of having it dominate you is paramount. This theory transferred well today when I milled up the legs for the bench. It needs to have an accurate, well made foundation to be a solid usable bench. I took my time today as shortcuts here would haunt me later on. I have worked on a hand-me-down bakery table and any manner of 2×4 plywood horizontal surface that would hold a piece of wood, but for this bench and all the pieces included in this remodel I am demanding more. Almost to the point of being anal retentive as I only want to do this once, then get on with life using what I have made.

It was a quick day as I had to get on with other things, but I have the bench top ready to mortice for the legs and he legs are ready to mortise for the stretchers.

I laid out the benchtop to get a sense of the size and I am happy with the measurements. It will end up being 32”x 68” with the split sitting back at 19”. I can comfortably reach the other side and it won’t hold me out from the cabinet too far.

With the outside trim boards on the bench has a squat look, but that’s O.K. so do I.

I milled the leg blanks square and cut one end with a square face, I then cut them all to the same length. I wasn’t worried yet about what length, just that they were all the same. I then set up to mill out a tenon on the top that would sit back 1 1/2” from the face and 1/2” from all other sides to go into the bench top.

I have referred to the plans a few times, but for the most part they don’t have much bearing on this build. Though they are neat and would look nice in a frame.

I ran around the outside first and then used my tenon jig to finish it off. I made sure to undercut it by a bit so not to have over-cut lines, I hate it when I score thru the shoulder of my tenon and see it after glue up.

My legs were too wide for my jig so I popped the armature off and used a clamp.

I won’t be found advertising for products too often unless I really like them. I have received many trial products for free over the years to test and have kept my mouth shut about some of them as they weren’t worth it, but I have to take a sec here and convince you to buy one thing.
If there is anything in your shop that will help you improve your accuracy in cutting and milling your lumber it is a Wixey. These things are indispensable and have made a world of difference in how easy my setups are for milling. Get one, there that said we can move on.

The pros will tell you that when you mill thin strips you should always have the strips to the outside of the blade. I had a rocket experience with a cutoff that left a square bruise on my waist for a few months so I know this lesson, but if you sign the waiver you can do what you want, especially if it is your shop. As long as I back up the off-cut and get it past the blade I don’t have a problem, so I used this when I was cutting off the waist from the tenons as my jig just wouldn’t extend enough to accommodate the alternative.

This also helps with sawdust that wants to shoot at you too, but if you can put the smaller cuts to the outside. There you have been warned. Do as I say, not as I do. This isn’t for teaching purposes, if you want to learn go find a woodworking teacher, I am just trying to entertain you and show you how crazy I am!

The faces of the legs will be notched out for the first 1” to allow the skirted additions to the bench-top to sit flush with the legs.

Oh brother, here we go again. They fight like well.. you know!

So anyway, the legs get a relief to house the skirting that will make the top appear a bit thicker and it will be nice to have for extra clamping.

I am working on a system of rails that will mount under the bench and I will be able to reach underneath and push forward to raise the split in the top, it just sounded like a good idea to me. What do you think?
Take care all,

-- Brian Noel

5 comments so far

View pottz's profile


7630 posts in 1584 days

#1 posted 01-13-2016 11:58 PM

your a machine man i wish i had your energy.your right about being anal and getting this bench done perfect the first time a sturdy bench like that will last your lifetime and beyond,and i like your idea about being able to raise the split the more versatility the better,lookin good.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View BurlyBob's profile


6881 posts in 2865 days

#2 posted 01-14-2016 01:01 AM

That’s going to be an awesome bench when your done with it. I’m hopeful that I’ll get to build one of my own sometime later this year.

View TheWoodRaccoon's profile


364 posts in 1530 days

#3 posted 01-14-2016 01:50 AM

wow…...i wish i had the head for this stuff….

-- still trying to think of a clever signature......

View CFrye's profile


10818 posts in 2440 days

#4 posted 01-14-2016 04:27 AM

You know it’s all an act put on for your benefit, right? When no one is around, they are best buds! Oh, great progress. I know nothing of split tops. So, whatever you say, Brian. :-)

-- God bless, Candy

View yuridichesky's profile


624 posts in 2564 days

#5 posted 01-14-2016 10:17 AM

I can spend hours staring at your legs… :-)
Great build!

-- Yuri (10x4 -- yeah, that's my tiny shop!)

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