My 18th Century Workbench in progress 8


Attila Hoth dropped off the three beech boards I requested tonight. As we are about to abandon Windhoek for a 10 day migration to our Fishing Camp on the mighty Okavango River for a spot of Tiger fishing, I simply clamped them to my assembly table to stay honest while settling into my shop’s particular ambiance.

Tweede hout


Finally I was able to progress with the joinery this weekend after our African adventure. First on the to-do list was to use the actual leg to mark out the shoulder lines of the short stretchers and two aprons. The work-holding ability of my shop made assembly table made it possible to set up a frame in order to mark out each set exactly the same. You will notice that I referenced the vertical position of the legs off the shoulders of the through mortises. For the width of the bench I finally settled on a fraction over 25″.


In order to locate the short stretchers, I made two batons of 3 mm plywood that are exactly the same length and used that to reference off the bottom of aprons, which were in turn set up flush with the tenon shoulders. With all the parts firmly clamped into position as you can see in the last picture, I used a 0.3 mm mechanical pencil to mark out the exact shoulder lines on the apron and stretcher. Then it was simply a question of repeating the process on the second set of parts.


The pencil lines generated during the above activity was then used to mark out the rest of the shoulder lines with a marking knife, while taking care to always reference off a face side or face edge. You will see that I have started using the technique/scribble taught by Robert Wearing to indicate the two face sides.


At this point I realised that I really should add the final part of the stretcher before cutting the shoulders. I decided a while ago already to laminate yet another strip to make it appear as if the stretcher is solid Witpeer. Therefore I had to mill another feral board into sophisticated strips for the top of all four stretchers and laminated it onto the already ominous looking (3″ x 5½ before the strips were added) short stretchers.


In the meantime I started sawing the shoulders of the aprons and made a point of trying to saw to the line. I did not want to remove as much material with the chisel as what I had to do on the through mortises at the top of the legs. Again I used one of Robert Wearings tricks to get the saw started perfectly. He describes how you used a chisel to pair a shallow ditch (pictured) on the waste side of the shoulder line to guide you saw. Once the shoulders were cut it was piece of pie to chop the waste away with a chisel.


The big frustration of the weekend was when I realised that I still needed to cobble together a fence for the #78 Stanley rabbet plane (that I am in the process of restoring into a working tool) before I can use it to hand-cut mouldings with it. That forced me to design and fashion this Ferrari-esque contrivance …


… which despite it’s dilapidated appearance, performed admirably in tandem with a small block plane and a card scraper in producing these hand-cut mouldings . You will notice that these mouldings were designed to hide the lamination. Together with a good colour match it makes it impossible to notice the lamination, once the stretcher’s shoulders are glued into position between the legs.



However, that took most of the day so I ended up feeling a bit despondent about the weekends progress.

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