Archive for August 2013
Cutting TenonsThursday 29th August 2013
After forming the mortices in the leg frame it was time to cut the tenons. One thing I am enjoying about this bench build is that you don’t need a bench to build it, just some half decent trestles. The low height of a trestle is perfectly designed to allow you to use your natural body weight to clamp the wood firmly, great for morticing large components and cutting large tenons. The method shown in the video still uses the traditional approach of cutting down the length of each tenon at an angle before finishing up with the final sawing. With theses angled saw cuts guiding the saw, final sawing of the tenon is quickly done.
My aim is also for these joints to fit “off the saw”. I don’t want to take extra time paring. See the gauge line and cut it in half.
The saw used is the same cheapo hardpoint saw you can pick up from builders merchants and DIY stores. I can’t imagine not having one of these. I have vintage and nice new saws too but it’s surprising how often I reach for the hardpoint. I also cut some slots in the tenons to accept some wedges. These leg frames need to be strong and a wedged motice and tenon fits the bill perfectly.
Morticing the Leg Frames – Part 2Sunday 25th August 2013
Well I am no expert with the hand morticing so who knows if I maximised the Narex or not. One thing is for sure it made me greedy. With a bevel edge I knew I could not be direct so I took a lighter bite, not so with the mortice chisel, I got maybe a bit too direct? I will let you be the judge.
I did have one issue with the Narex (and only one, it is a superb mortice chisel) the first edge crumbled and chipped. I contacted Matthew at and he explained that because of the unique way the Narex is quenched the tip can be a bit weak. After the second sharpen there was no issue.
Which do I prefer. A tough call, all I can really say is that although I’m delighted with the value and quality of the Narex I don’t feel its essential on basic builds like this. Once the bench is done I will test it out on some more difficult timbers.
Morticing the Leg FramesTuesday 20th August 2013
It’s been a while since the last post but I’m now in the throws of morticing the leg frames. Although I have access to a lot of machines I went the hand tool route. The leg frames have 1 x big through mortice and tenon with a haunched mortice and tenon at the top. All will become clearer when it’s up together.
By the book I should of reduced the width of the bottom rail tenon a bit, but quite honestly, in my experience, I knew it would be fine on a workbench of this type.
I was going to give two variations of cutting a mortice a go. Bevel edge chisel (the heavy duty general purpose type) and a mortice chisel.
I allowed myself some indulgence and bought a very good value 1/2″ Narex mortice chisel from UK based Workshop Heaven and a Joseph Marples Mortice Gauge from ebay (but new) so I could contrast the two types of chisel.
I’ve done round one with the bevel edge (see video below). I have not really taken a classic approach to morticing, just what seemed to work. The last time I hand cut a mortice was when I was 16 during the first year of my apprenticeship! I found the bevel edge familiar in the hand and easy enough to mortice with although you do need to resist the desire to lever it too hard. It remains to be seen if it’s quicker than a mortice chisel. Round 2 to come.
Gluing Up The LegsTuesday 6th August 2013
The nice thing about using leg components that are the same thickness as the the apron is that it’s a breeze to make the notches. Simply by gluing the inner an outer legs together it creates that nice big notch to receive the apron. Some examples of this bench have aprons that are simply mounted on the sides of the legs. The reason I didn’t do that and went for this design is that the early Nicholson version of the bench featured this detail as did “The Beast”. In theory the method I have shown creates a nice flush surface which could be useful on larger work. I wait with interest to to see if it was worth the effort.
I cleaned up the mating surfaces of the wood with the smoothing plane, just a very light pass to remove machine marks. The outer leg was then glued to the inner leg with PVA, a rub joint which was then lightly supported by clamps. Once dried the surfaces were quickly dressed. Next up is the mortice and tenon joinery needed to make the leg frames.
Knife WallSaturday 3rd August 2013
A little step forward. I cut what will become the outer leg shoulder that meets the apron. I used the knife wall technique. I hold my hands up, I had never heard about the knife wall until recently. I was shown to knife mark and cut to that knife mark at College and at work I was expected to cut a shoulder to a pencil line and for it to fit “off the saw” (those joints would be confined to joinery rather than cabinet making). The only reference I had found on knife walling was in “Practical Home Woodworking” from the 1950′s. It says of knife walling “As an aid to keeping the shoulder line square, some less experienced workers prefer to chisel a shallow groove into which the saw can be placed for starting the cut”
In addition to the aid of starting the saw I found it worked well in terms creating a border so the edge can be planed back neatly. Was it that much better than just cutting to a knife line? I just can’t say right now. It’s something I will try out more to get a feel for it, it does though seem a useful skill to have. I will post a video of my attempt soon.