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Building staked furniture sometimes feels a lot more like an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” than a typical day in the shop.

At assembly-time, the legs have to be knocked home hard to firmly seat the the conical tenon in its mortise and make a bit of a mechanical interlock. I’ve been making sample joints all year and sawing them apart to see what is going on inside.

The theory? Staked furniture and cut nails work the same way. If you use a hard wood for the legs and a soft wood for the top you can deform the wood fibers in the top to grip the conical tenon. That way glue become less of a factor.

During this class at Highland Woodworking, I told the students to hit the legs hard at assembly. How hard? Hit each leg so hard that the top would split if they hit it again. And I told them I would buy a beer for anyone who split their top.

Note: I had to buy myself a beer.

My sawbench has a nice crack near one leg now. The joint is still together, but I can’t wait to saw that one apart and see what happened inside.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 7 comments
  • mslorax

    Yikes, Ask and ye shall receive. I have been eyeing these saw benches in your shop and wondered how they were made because I want to build them! Will keep a lookout for the plans and the video.

  • Danny

    Wish I could have attended the class. Any plans to publish construction drawing of the Staked Sawbenches? I would love to build these beautiful benches. Cheers, Danny

  • Steven Davis

    Do you think that the tenons may not have been conical, but made with a draw knife and, if so, the irregular shape helped with the compression, like a cut nail?

  • McDara

    Do you put wedges in the leg tenons? Also, just curious, do you level/wedge/scribe the legs to cut them to length at the end?

  • jasalomon

    This looks like a great class. Any plans to shoot a video on this sawbench build and/or to bring the class up to the New England area at some point? I’ve been wanting to build a pair of these benches since I first saw them lurking in shop shots from your blog here and at LAP.

  • sbrantley

    Fantastic class. I came away with a lot more knowledge than I expected (like the full capabilities of a jack plane). Anyone that hasn’t had the chance to take a class with Chris, he’s a fantastic teacher.

    Unfortunately, I went downstairs for a few minutes to make a purchase from Highland and like my wife’s shoe shopping, it went longer than planned. When I got back upstairs everyone was gone. I had planned on swapping contact info with the guys in the class. If it’s acceptable, I’m going to leave my email address (I still check mine 😉 in hopes that they find it. If it’s not cool, I’ll understand the delete.

    The guy with long hair and a nub thumb
    a_den_of_thieves @ hotmail


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