Almost there…

The workbench is nearing completion. I’ve spent the past 8 hours in the workshop, sanding, routing, gluing, sawing, and sanding some more, underneath cloudy and now rainy skies.

First thing was insetting the end vise so that it was flush with the end of the bench and it will soon have a set of blocks on it to brace any projects as needed.

With that done it was on to several hours of sanding and removing excess glue from the assembly and filling any gaps with epoxy along with hammering in some shims into the sliding dovetail leg joints. Once that initial sanding was done, I milled the 1″x1″ cleats and glued and nailed them to the stretchers in preparation for building the shelf.

You can tell from the images that the oak dowels have been fitted into the mitered tenons of the stretchers. That was probably the most straightforward thing I’ve done with the entire project.

I’ve always liked the way a sanded oak peg looks in contrast to a lighter wood, in this case the poplar of the legs and the cedar stretchers. It should really shine when I apply the finish.

Lastly I milled, planed, and cut the rabbets for the soon to be ship-lapped boards of the shelf. I’ve got a good amount of cedar pickets lying around from the when we replaced our privacy fence earlier this year and they fit the bill for the workbench shelf.

I’m almost there now. I’ve still got some epoxy and sanding work to take care of and I’ve finally decided that I will indeed install a face vise, most likely the Wood Vise Screw Kit from Lake Erie Toolworks. Beyond that, I’ll need to finish the wood and I’m planning on using boiled linseed oil and thinner for that. Nothing fancy, just something to bring out the grain. The goal is to be more or less finished before the weekend so that I can take care of those last minute Christmas presents that have been waiting in the wings.

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Roubo’s Legs

I’ve been waiting on a couple tools to move this project along, namely a brace and a mortising chisel. For those of you who are perhaps too interested in the details you may have noticed a very nice Japanese bench chisel in the photos from the last post. It occurs to me now, that what I should ┬áhave been using was a mortising chisel. Ah to be young and inexperienced. Now I have a good reason to order some Japanese water stones and learn how to properly sharpen a chisel.

But back to the project at hand. Since I am unable to drill the bench dog holes without a brace-I want to take care of those by hand-and since I’ve yet to get my epoxy and iron oxide powder to fill the checks, I went ahead and started work on the legs.

I purchased the legs over a year ago from a big box store and they were simply labeled “untreated landscaping timbers” of the 6″x6″ variety. They looked pretty rough but I dried them in the attic and then planed them down this summer. Today I cut them to length and sanded them down. The result is that each leg measures 5″x5″ and 35″ L.

This weekend I plan on actually cutting the sliding dovetails and tenons and possibly carving out the mortises in the bench itself if time permits.

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Measure Twice Cut Once

The task for today in bringing the Roubo bench along was to install my end vise. I came across a Jorgensen 9″ model #40709. It’s a quick release, but solid i.e. heavy, with a snazzy wood handle (maple perhaps?). Initially I thought it best to inset the vise, at least on the end of the bench top so that I would have a unified flat surface against which to work. So I proceeded to drill, chisel, & swear my way to victory. And, impressively the vise fit nearly flush with the end of the bench and even looked nice

But (and I’ll chalk this up to inexperience and my ongoing apprenticeship through books/Internet, and just plain old inattention to detail) I failed to take into account the placement of the 5″x5″ legs to be installed two steps down the road that would inevitably be in the way of the vise guides & screw and vice versa.

So I hand-sawed off the 1/2″ worth of scrap I just created and reattached the vise (not before laying out the legs of course) only this time I chose to not inset it. I can always go back and try at a later date but I wasn’t ready to saw off another 1/2″. And I can install wood inserts onto the clamp that will distribute the pressure more broadly.

Next step is to mix up the elastic wood epoxy with the iron oxide powder dye and fill in the checks and cracks and then onto the legs.

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