A corollary to “Why build it when you can overbuild it?” is “Why do it the easy way when you can do it the hard way?” The latter seems to be the theme of my latest project, a sitting bench and occasional Roman workbench.
I could have easily glued and nailed a gusset onto each set of legs and called it a day. That would have been the easy way out. But I had to go make it all complicated and mortise in a stretcher that’s flush to the underside of the benchtop. Sure, it looks nicer and will theoretically be stronger, but it’s at least twice as much work.
I should note that there are two failure points in this setup.
The first is cross-grain movement. I assembled the bench in my downstairs, non-HVAC workshop on a humid day. But the finished piece will live in the HVAC upstairs living area so it should shrink a smidge. Nonetheless, the quarter inch drawbore pegs are likely not strong enough to resist heavy seasonal movement, even if they had been rived from solid stock instead of storebought dowels. I have a nagging suspicion that 3/8 would have been more appropriate.
Second, the 10 degree rake on the legs seems a bit aggressive. There is the slightest bit of flex in the legs when I sit on the bench, although it might just be the slickness of the hardwood floor. I can imagine that heavy mortising over the legs might loosen the lap joints over time. We’ll just have to see.
I used the bench for some basic hand planing last night and have some plans for a special shooting board/bench hook that braces against the bench dogs pictured above.
Once that shooting board is functional, I’ll move onto a Palm that fits over the bench dogs, and maybe a removable crochet/shoulder vise that does the same. Or maybe just drop the illusion of this being furniture add a whipple hook?
Is it obvious that I’m between major projects right now?