Home > Woodworking > In conclusion….. Saw bench is built

In conclusion….. Saw bench is built

To the relief of my few but loyal followers, I have news. The Saw Bench build was finished up on Saturday! Susan was sitting a Continuing Veterinary Education session for the day and I was planning to spend a full day in shop. Taking inventory of tasks left on this build I needed  to:

  1. Level the short leg
  2. Unscrew and glue the upper braces
  3. Plug all the counter bored screw holes
  4. Build the lower shelf

I also decide to drill out and replace the end of the through tenon dowel that I had mangled earlier trying to slice it off with my chisel.

Unscrewing and gluing the upper braces went smoothly although I’m still a bit Goldilocks getting the “just right” amount of glue. I think up until this point I’ve probably been erring on the side of too generous and cleanup has been a mess. I’m now backing off a bit and focusing on better coverage. I haven’t mastered it yet but I now think more about it with each joint. Because the braces were screwed as well as glued, I moved right into the next step.

The step I was dreading was leveling the bench by adding a patch to the bottom. I wasn’t sure about how to cut something so thin yet accurately. It was a bunch of trial and error but I finally was able to get some pieces that worked and for the most part, the bench is now very stable.

Leveling a Leg

Fitting the dowel plugs went smoothly and relatively quickly although I had 12 of them plus the repair making 13.  I was even able to recycle a few of the dowel cutoffs from the stretcher tenons, using them for plugs. I wish I could have found and used them all! Oh well, no worries. I chamfered the dowel stick end before slicing off the plug with my hand saw and bench hook. A dab of glue and tapped them home with a rubber mallet. Done…

Plugging Screw Holes

Letting them dry, I began work on the lower shelf. For me the trickiest bit was going to be cutting the two shelf braces. I had some 1″ x 2″ stock that I was going to rip in half and it would have to be cut by hand. To find the middle, I used the tip I learned about angling your ruler until both edges line up on obvious tick marks then marking the center, e.g. adjust the ruler angle until the left edge of your stock lines up exactly with the 1″ mark and the right edge on the 3″ mark, then you know the exact center is the 2″ tick. Use any convenient major marks appropriate for your stock. Marking the rip line on the piece I had the pleasure of using my saw bench for the very first time. Sounds silly but it was a thrill to finally have use of this shop piece and to use it to complete the shop piece.

Ripping the Shelf Supports

What was also typical was that my first use of the bench also resulted in my first marring of the bench, thus I extended the depth of my ripping notch on one side by ¼”. Oops! The upshot of that was to even out the cut and square off the notch end with my smallest chisel and to make a line of demarcation to help me from doing this again.

Setting a Mark on the Ripping Notch Endpoint

Next time, I’d do it differently but I used my marking knife to make a line just shy of the notch end, then used graphite from my lead holder sharpener to darken the line. Indeed it blackened the line and the entire area around the line so this didn’t really work as I had envisioned. Perhaps a fine tipped Sharpie would have been a better idea. I didn’t extend the mark out to the legs but I think I in the future. How about an inlaid stripe to mark it? I’m thinking no.

Having ripped the shelf supports I now needed to thickness them (the rip wasn’t perfect after all) and set one face to a 10° bevel so the shelf pieces will set horizontal on the sloping legs. I have always been good at math and geometry but I’ve never really been automatic with 3D shapes in my head. So methodically I figured out what I needed to plane, marked the pieces accordingly and went to work.

By now the glue had dried and it was time to level the dowel plugs. I used my flush cut saw and paring chisel and in case anyone is wondering, my flush cut saw is right handed and can’t be turned upside down or the set will mar your work. I only tried this once and now I know.

Next I set my miter saw to a 10° bevel and cut a test piece intentionally long, then creeped up to the proper length shaving a bit at a time. The stretchers are not perfectly parallel to one another so one end was a bit wider than the other. I cut and fit a piece, then used it to measure the next in line, adding a smidgeon as I went until I had a serviceable fit. No real problems with this process although I was running out of stock and ended up using a very crappie piece for the last plank. Git-R-Done.

Saw Bench Lower Shelf

I was a little “confused” on how I could fit all these pieces before installing the shelf support. The planks must be installed from the bottom because the legs angle inward at the top. So I turned the saw bench upside down to fit them but there was not support to hold them so I figured out where I wanted the shelf and drew lines on both stretchers. I then temporarily clamped the shelf supports on that line to support the planks while cutting and fitting. Once I was ready to go with the glue up, I put the bench on its side and drew another line below the planks where the shelf supports will be glued and nailed.  I proceeded to glue and nail the supports but after doing so had only a small amount of play to apply glue to the underside of the planks. For this I used a disposable pipet, applying glue to both ends of a single board, nailing it with my pin nailer then moving on to the next board. If I had had a broader selection of wood, I would have paid greater attention to grain pattern but I’m learning along the way.

Completed Saw Bench

Now I have a good excuse to go ahead and pick up the random orbital sander after which using I’ll apply some finish not so much for looks rather to seal and help protect the bench.

Building to build, I am very stoked about this new addition to my shop but of greater importance is what I have learned while making it.

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.

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