Work Bench Part 4 - Assembly


Now that all the joinery is cut and ready to go (above), it is time for the worst part of most projects, the glue up. It’s a messy, sticky, sliding mess. But its necessary, so I test fitted all the joints first (right), and made a few adjustments where ever was needed. There is really only a few glue joints in this bench, the legs are what I started with. Once both legs were fitted, the draw bored joints were marked and drilled. Half inch dowels will be used for the draw bored joint in the top stretcher. The holes were first drilled in the legs centre of each mortise and tenon joint, through the mortice first (left). Don’t forget some backing in the mortice so the drill won’t bust through. The legs were then reassembled, then the centre of the tenon was marked with the drill bit that was just used. After all the centres were marked I took apart the legs. Then a pilot hole was marked with my bird cage awl, slightly (a bit more then a sixteenth of an inch) toward the shoulder of the top stretcher from the hole that was previously marked with the drill bit. This was marked more towards the shoulder to keep pressure on the joint once the dowel is pounded through. Then the holes were drilled in the tenon.


The dowels were made form a large chunk of the same oak that I had used for the legs. So first it was split up with an axe and froe (right). Then they were made into  smaller parts with my push knife  and spokeshave to fit through my dowel plate (below left). The whittled down oak dowels were pounded through my dowel plate with my engineers hammer (below right). If then they can take being beat like that, they pass my test.  


Now It was time to get ready for glueing. There is a list for things I always have ready for this stage:

  • Clamps - Ready to go, fully opened to just more then I will need. You don’t want to play around with them while glue is drying. 
  • Wet cloths - I use modern glue. These are a must for cleaning up as you go.
  • Glue Brush - I don’t care what kind of brush. Just one near by.
  • Mallet - I use a dead blow normally. For this one I had my engineers hammer and a scrap of wood near by as well.


I then started the glue up. These are massive joints. They sometimes just don’t want to move as you assemble them, Use the clamps and hammers you have available. There is no turning back now. I started putting the legs together with my dead blow hammer, once the joints got close to being closed, they were tough so I switched to my engineer’s hammer. It’s a nice small sledge that I used with a block of wood, to not damage the piece. The joints were then clamped together and the leg was checked to see if it was square. The pegs for the draw bored mortice were also driven in now.


The long stretchers were then fitted to the legs.  The joints were adjusted as needed, once they were together, the rear wall of the tusk tenon holding the base together was marked. I then prepared some half inch stock to make the tusks (left) . Next the wall of the tusk tenon was marked about a quarter of an inch toward the shoulder, and traced the tusk tenon onto the long stretcher (below). The mortise was then marked on the top and bottom, and were drilled out. The mortise was cut the rest of the way with my mortice and bevel edge chisels. Notice the chip in picture below, that happen during the assembly of the base, luckily I left the tenons a bit long.


The long stretchers were then prepared for the shelf Im adding across the long stretcher. I made a half inch rebate along the inside face of both stretchers to accommodate a tongue on the end of the shelf boards. It was a cut to about a half inch deep. (below)


I was then able to assemble the base. The long stretchers were then placed through the legs on one side. Then I placed the other leg assembly on the stretchers. After persuading them together with my hammers,  the tusk tenons were put in and lightly hammered to tighten the leg assembly up. The assembled base is shown to below. 


Well, that concludes this entry and next time I will be preparing the shelf boards, and getting the top ready for glue up. 

© Shane Larson 2018