“I know what you’re thinking, punk. You’re thinking, ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Now to tell you the truth I forgot myself in all this excitement. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and will blow you head clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself a question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”
– Harry Callahan, “Dirty Harry” (1971)
I’m taking off on Sunday for a week-long trip for work and really wanted to get this Old-school Roubo workbench project underway. While the air-dried cherry stock is surprisingly dry, I still wanted to cut the legs to length so they will (I hope) finish drying while I’m away.
The only real problem with the stock is it’s fairly punky in places, so I needed to make my cuts carefully.
Whenever possible, I like to start a project with an ax. I fetched my carpenter’s hatchet from my toolchest and began hacking away at the spongy stuff. This, I might add, is more satisfying than a marketing meeting.
Once I removed the bad stuff and hit the good wood, I started hunting and pecking around the planks for a half-decent 36″ length of wood. The legs will finish out at 4″ x 6″ x 34″, but I want a little extra length at this point in case I get some checking while the legs finish acclimating.
Then I started cutting the legs to length with my Disston 6-point D-8 , the coarsest crosscut handsaw I own. Senior Editor Glen D. Huey took some video of the work in case we decided to make a DVD of the process.
The first three legs gave me no problems. I was able to do a fairly good punk-ectomy on the legs, which will require only a little rot-fixing epoxy. But the fourth leg was sounder on the outside than it was on the inside. After about a dozen strokes with the handsaw it felt like I was slicing through wet toilet paper.
Chunks of red spongy stuff began jumping to their doom from the end grain of the leg. When the waste finally let go, the end grain looked like Mother Nature had made a mortise in the end.
Looks like I’ll need a lot more epoxy stuff.
Today the legs are reading at between 12 percent to 15 percent moisture content. We’ll see how they look on Monday.
– Christopher Schwarz
P.S. I won’t be able to check e-mail much next week. So if you send me a message, you probably won’t get a response until the week after.