How to build a four-board bench that can be used almost anywhere.
If you don’t have a drafting compass or circle template, don’t hesitate to substitute the bottom of a coffee can or a spool of fishing line. As long as it looks good to your eye, it works!
After marking the 5″-diameter circle and extending the marks down to the bottom of the legs, use your jigsaw to cut out the arches on both legs. Take your time in the curve. It’s easy to cut outside your line.
Cleaning up the cuts on the radii is fairly easy with a random orbit sander. Make sure you keep the pad perpendicular to the face of the board or you’ll round over the edges. The sander won’t work on the inside of the arches. You’ll have to resort to a rasp and file to clean up those cuts.
Depending on your comfort level with the jigsaw, cutting the mating notches for a tight fit can be tricky. You may want to cut the second notch by hand (I’m using a coping saw in the photo above). This allows you to sneak up on a tight fit.
Even though a long-grain to long-grain glue joint is stong, a handful of biscuits help reinforce the joint where the stretcher attaches to the seat.
With the biscuit slots cut, add some glue and clamp the stretcher in place. If you’ve never tried wooden handscrews, you might be surprised at the amazing number of applications they have in your shop.
I use a one-piece bit and countersink (lying on the bench) to make the clearance and countersink hole for both the screws and the plugs in one step. Just make sure you drill deep enough to allow the plug to seat 1/4″ below the surface.
The coping saw isn’t my first choice for cutting the plugs flush to the top (it leaves more dowel than I’d prefer), but rather than go out and buy a flush-cut saw, I made do. Just a little more time spent on sanding and no one is the wiser.