Monday, January 23, 2012

What Has Four Legs But Cannot Stand?

A workbench with no top!

But that's next on the list now that I've finished the joinery on the legs.

By the time I was working on the fourth leg I had managed to find a good technique for getting all faces square and flat.

I had been using floats, which worked great, but they left a rather rough surface.

By using a chisel, the surfaces are smooth, which will help them slide into the mortises more easily.

When squaring up the surfaces, I found that if you make your cut lines really deep, saw close to the line, then pare to the line all around the edges with a chisel, it's easier to remove everything in between.

I used a straightedge to check my progress. If you hold both ends of the straightedge and try to rock it like a seesaw, it will reveal high spots. If it doesn't rock, there are no gaps, and the straightedge rests on the cut lines on both sides, the surface is flat.

The tenon on the bottom has been
squared up. The one on top still needs
to be pared.

I worked on these legs for a long time to get them as square as possible. I believe I averaged about eight hours per leg.

If only I were able to be that focused at my job, I'd be a rich woman.

I used a router to clean up the outside cheeks. By sliding two legs together end-for-end, the router was supported on both sides.

Using the router was a welcome break from all that chiseling.


TheGravedigger said...

Gotta love a router plane - tenon cheeks made easy!

Jamie Bacon said...

Looking great Kari! Almost makes me want to build another bench. Well, after completing my ten half finished projects I've got going. :) Can't wait to see this done. I know it'll be amazing, just like all your work.

keithjfuji1439 said...

The legs are looking really great Kari. I cringe at the thought of paring the surfaces perfectly flat. Good job!

Vic Hubbard said...

What is your favorite size of chisel to use for paring the faces flat? I'm gonna get a higher quality one, but I'm in love with my Marples 2 inch. It's mass is what makes it so great. A large piece of metal that makes delicate jobs extremely easy and, as long as I keep it sharp, I can take shavings off you can see through.

Megan Fitzpatrick said...

Those look great. And the top will be a piece of cake -- really!

Tom Stephenson said...

Patience, thy name is Kari! Very nice work. Can't wait to see the top on top of those legs. So much of good woodworking is sawing and chisling to a line. Great post.

dyfhid said...

Nice legs! So proud of you!

Joe McGlynn said...

Wow, your bench legs look great! Too bad the router plane won't reach to the bottom of the space between the two tenons.

It took me a minute to get what you were saying about "make your cut lines deep" -- you meant the layout marks, not the saw cuts :) It looks like you left the layout line and then pared down to it, rather than "splitting the line". Any particular reason for that?

My legs need to dry for a couple of more weeks, but I got the bench top finished last weekend, I'll have to make some practice tenons this week.


John Cashman said...

Vous avez de belles jambes.

Rob said...

Eight hours on each leg - that's some serious focus! The results look great.

Kari Hultman said...

Robert, the router plane was a cake walk compared to chiseling. whew!

Jamie, I can't wait to see what you bring with you to the next SAPFM meeting. Depending on how this bench goes together, I may bring it.

Keith, sometimes it's best, going into a project, to not know how long something will take us. I might have thought better of this if I'd known it would be so time consuming....

Vic, I used a Japanese chisel (my favorites) that measures 1 3/16". I forget what the mm equivalent is.

Megan, I sure hope you're right!

Tom, I can hardly wait to see the top fitted to the legs. :o)

Thanks, Dyfhid!

Joe, sorry for the confusion. Yes, I meant the layout lines--cut them deeply. That way, when you pare to the line, you can very easily see where the wood separates from the layout mark. I think I'll post a photo--it will make more sense.

Merci beaucoup, mon ami!

Rob, I'm slow as molasses, but happy with the results. :o)

A Casual Doodler said...

My dictionary gives a meaning of rich as.

“Interesting because full of diversity or complexity: What a full rich life you lead!”

By this definition you are one of the wealthiest people I know.


keithjfuji1439 said...

Good point Kari. I often finding myself spending too much time thinking and not near enough time just doing! Into the shop I go...

Jonathan Szczepanski said...

Looks good Kari. How much of the 8 hours per leg was sharpening your chisel? :-)


Bob Tinsley said...

A router plane. Such neat toys you have! If I weren't such a minimalist, I'd be jealous. No, check that, I'm still jealous.


OwlOnAStick said...

The 8 hour figure for how long the first one took is the most interesting data point for me. In my ignorance, I would have started looking for shortcuts at the one hour point or so.

Carports said...

8 hours on each leg! Amazing Kari! You did great on those legs. All the best.

bowyerboy said...

Two sailors near the end of their shore leave?????

Shannon said...

Excellent post Kari! I think this is the essence of hand work. Make good layout lines and just work down to them. Easy right? The hard part is having the patience to get to those lines and you definitely illustrated that here.

Ari Z said...

8 hours a leg!? Talk about dedication. Having the deep cut lines and working your way in is a great way to get it perfect, but you must have the patience of a saint to stick with it for that long.

pjped said...

Wonderful craftsmanship! Very inspiring as well, those are some real nice deep saw cuts, wish I was at that level.


Kari Hultman said...

Keith, I know what you mean. That's my new year's resolution: less dreaming, more building.

Jonathan, you bring up a good point! Part of that time was spent sharpening and just plain old figuring out what the heck I was doing.

Mack, I love that router plane and use it more often than I ever imagined.

Owl, I considered building a router jig, but was concerned about tearout and accuracy. I knew I could sneak up on and tweak the cuts by hand and at least avoid tearout. Because the joinery is exposed and would be taken apart on occasion, I wanted the joints to look nice. I'd never cut something like this on a table saw, and couldn't think of any other way to do it other than by hand or router. But yeah, the 8 or so hours per leg was exhausting (but a fun learning experience).

Thanks, carports.

Bowyerboy, nice one!

Thanks, Shannon. Accurate layout is definitely key when you're working with hand tools.

Ari Z, there's a fine line between dedication and plumb crazy. heh.

Thanks, piped. Just jump right in. The first leg is not quite as nice as the last leg, but I learned a lot during the process.