Bench Progress Report (In Case my Boss is Checking)
In between editing stories, answering calls and e-mail, and trying to tie up a few loose ends for Woodworking in America (the Toolmakers’ Dinner is two weeks from today – yikes!), I’ve managed to sneak into the shop to cut the leg mortises for what I’m calling the “Petite Roubo.” Actually, it’s going to end up a little bit larger than Chris’s 18th-century Bench, but will likely weigh less. This one is out of Eastern white pine, and his latest bench has a thick cherry slab on top (we don’t definitively know what species the legs are). Chris says a workbench simply can’t be too heavy. The one I’m working on right now is, after the conference, destined for the study on my second floor. I’m guessing that after helping to haul it up a flight of stairs, he might change his tune on that weight statement. (Or maybe he’s planning to be out of town on moving day.) Anyway, I’m faithfully following his directions. The joinery in this bench is exactly the same as in the 18th-century Bench , but mine isn’t cut wholly by hand. I’m not a masochist (nor have I eaten enough Wheaties), and there’s simply not enough time. I used the 17″ band saw to cut the extents of the mortises, and, after a less-than-satisfying experience with mortise chisel waste removal on the first leg (I need to regrind and sharpen my mortise chisel; not enough slice, too much tear), I removed most of the waste on the remaining three legs with the 14″ band saw. I then chiseled out the remaining waste…and still got a little tear out (but it won’t show, and it won’t matter). And yes Chris, I first chiseled a V-notch, and worked in from both sides. I still need to cut the corners off to make the four massive dovetails, but they’re marked and ready to go. Now I simply must screw my courage to the sticking-place, and make those handsaw cuts. I should probably cut some wedges now, just so they’re ready. – Megan Fitzpatrick – If you want complete instructions, a video, tons of photos and plans for building the 18th-Century Bench (you can use tailed tools – I won’t tell!), check out Chris’s DVD. – The 18th-century Bench is also included in our newest book, “The Workbench Design Book” (along with complete plans for eight other benches,Ã?Â “before-and-after” drawings for 10 more, the latest info on vises and workholding, and more). This book arrives in the warehouse on Sept. 22 , until then, it’s on pre-order sale for 20 percent off (it goes to full price once the book is in).