I haven’t had much of an intellectual boner for woodworking, lately. For whatever reason (probably Monster Hunter: World), it’s been tough to get down into the shop. But I seem to be coming out of the malaise and first thing on my list is finishing the low, staked workbench.
The slab has been S4S for some time. The mortises for the legs were already bored. But not owning a lathe put a damper on my momentum all those months ago. But no longer. This thing is getting built.
Making round tenons without a lathe or a tenon cutter is very much a trial and error process, consisting of three basic steps. Step one: crosscut the shoulders and then saw the tenon to a rough octagonal shape. Step 2: split down the length of the tenon with a chisel to get it as close to the reference circle as possible. Step 3: Rasp the tenon until it fits in the mortise all the while maintaining square down the length.
The first leg I made went straight to step 2, and some wily grain gave me a slightly conical tenon on one side. It should be okay (the defect is not load bearing), but I will for the rest of my life worry that the leg will fall out of the mortise. At which point I will make another one.
I have absolutely no idea if I kerfed the tenons far enough down for permanent wedging. By going 3/4 of the way, though, the end of the fully seated wedge is still fully inside the thickness of slab. But judging by how the wedges on the first two legs each drove in and seated just fine, I think it will be okay.
Cards on the table: I still have two legs to go. It takes about an hour and a half per leg from ripping to thickness to final wedging. I’ll try and get it done this week, but no promises. In any event, it has to be done in the next two weeks, because I’m having company and need the extra seating.
I stand by my statement that a workbench like this would have been great for when I first started apartment woodworking. So much so that I’m going to make a second (smaller) version in a few weeks and give it a try. Maybe with one of those side twin screw vises that Christopher Schwarz put on his eight-legged bench.