Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Beefy Legs

Working with hefty boards requires a fair amount of handwork unless you have equally beefy machinery in your shop, which I do not.

So, after I glued up the leg boards for my workbench, I had to flatten one edge of each with handplanes before running them through my power planer. I had already flattened the faces by hand.

All legs were then power planed to final width and thickness: 5.5" x 4.5".

Next I needed to square up one end of each leg with a handsaw in order to start laying out the through-dovetails and tenons.

I followed Chris Schwarz' model for handsawing big timber to length.

Scribe a cut line on all four sides of the legs. Start sawing the far corner of one face, keeping an eye on your line both on the top surface and adjacent face of the board. When your saw reaches the corner nearest you, flip the board forward.

You now have a starting point for your next cut. Continue to saw this way, flipping the board forward after each cut, until you've connected the kerfs on all four sides.  You'll still need to saw out the middle, but your blade will follow the paths of the kerfs.

I was shocked at how well this method worked. If you lay out your lines carefully and saw straight, you can't miss.

The two 12/4 cherry boards that will become the benchtop sat in my shop for several weeks after I had flattened them by hand. This gave them time to get bent out of shape.

I'm not concerned at this point with the top of the bench, but the undersides must be flat so that they will rest evenly on the legs.  This meant more quality time with my planes, winding sticks, and straight edge.


Tom Stephenson said...

Kari, I'm in awe of your hand saw prowess. I need to book an appointment for a lesson! I muscled my legs through the chop saw and cleaned them up with my block plane. I hope your top is through moving too! How are you going to attach it to the bench? It's coming together nicely.

Jonathan P. Szczepanski said...

Looking good Kari.


mokusakusensei--woods teacher said...

Nice work Kari. I just finished the second bench tonight that I have been working on. I have constructed two benches for my two sons. I am pretty bored with the work and I am glad that they are finished so that I can move onto something else.

Frontier Carpenter said...

I will have to try the method you described for cutting large timber. My bench has ended up with a slight propeller twist. I should have been using winding sticks more. Cant wait to see the finished project.

Chris Adkins said...

It is very interesting to read your progress Kari. With so many of us working on benches at the same time we all seem to be realizing the same things. The importance of our hand tools in dealing with such large timbers and that starting it really is the bottom of the bench that must be flat in order to accept the base.

I look forward to continuing to follow your build.

Vic Hubbard said...

I'm looking forward to you doing the sliding dovetail and tenon that will fit your legs to the bench top. I didn't realize, at first, that was what you were going to do. It makes sense knowing you as I do. Mine, of course, are just sitting on top in mortises.

Rob said...

Nice cuts. What saw are you using? One with history in its teeth, by the looks.

Kari Hultman said...

Tom, I'm planning to use the through-dovetail and tenon design of the original Roubo to attach the top to the legs. I'm expecting it to be the most challenging part of this build. Wish me luck!

Thanks, Jonathan. :o)

McKay, your benches are awesome. I'm still considering using horizontally driven wedges in the stretchers, like yours. How are they holding up?

F.C., I only started using winding sticks for the first time this past year and they make a huge difference in flattening boards. Much easier.

Chris, your bench is really looking good. Love that end cap. You're right about having to use hand tools. If someone wanted to cut these thick legs with power, I think it would be very difficult and maybe not as accurate.

Vic, I'll start cutting the dovetails and tenons tonight. Looking forward to the challenge, but anticipating lots of curse words!

Rob, that's an antique I bought from Tom Law who sharpened it expertly. It's a Disston, 11 ppi.

Anonymous said...

Kari, great progress! Thanks for pointing out the technique for cutting the legs -- I must have missed that when reading my pile of Schwarz books.

I'm new to hand tool work, and was really pleased with how well winding sticks work to get a board trued up. Between that and a long straightedge it becomes a manageable process rather than black magic.

I glued up my bench top recently, next step is to rip it to width, cross cut the ends square and start planing it flat. I suspect that all of the hand sawing is going to be something of an adventure as my top is 5.5" thick.


Marilyn in Seattle said...

Thanks for continuing to post your progress. What a giant group build we've got going. With so many people building, especially by folks who are blogging about, there is a ton of information out there about how to get her done. I think a workbench is really important and there are some really intimidating aspects to building a good one. With all the information out there someone who wants to build is bound to find a method and/or a bench type that works. Can't wait to see how they all turn out.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit I chuckled at your the use of "peak" in the caption. You do have to peak to saw like that!

Kari Hultman said...

Joe, that technique is in Chris' second workbench book. Good luck with your bench--handsawing 5.5" thick top is not for the faint of heart!

Marilyn, you are so right about all the useful information out there. I'm glad I waited to build my bench rather than building one before the world wide web was in full swing.

Anon, agh! Nice catch. I'll have to correct that typo. Thanks. ; )

Anonymous said...

Typos are what makes us human. Hand sawing boards that thick are what make you super human. ;^)