Work Bench Part 2 - Preparing the Base 


This time I will be preparing the stock for the legs and all the stretchers for the base of my workbench. The stock I am using is local white oak from a rural Manitoba sawmill. I purchased enough for this bench, another bench project, as well as a fair amount extra for a little over four hundred dollars. The wood (above) was purchased a few years ago and has been air drying. It has some cracks and checks from drying, but I like the appearance, as it makes the bench look more aged. 


DunlapplaneWorkbench hewing

I started my battle with the large timbers for the long stretchers that join the two legs together and have a tusk tenon that holds the legs in place. The stock is about eighty inches long, four inches square. I picked the best side, and with my scrub plane (above left) in hand, scrubbed the board flat. I next proceeded to move onto my Stanley #6, which further levelled off this long stretcher (above right). I usually use my low angle jack plane before my jointer plane, but this oak has a lot of knots, and the grain changes direction constantly, the low angle plane caused  far too much tear out. So I ground my Stanley number six iron a bit more convex and used it till I was ready to move on to my jointer plane to finish off. The finished dimensions ended top being three and three eights square and eighty-four inches long. This became my basic stock preparation set up until I came across a nice condition Dunlap jack plane at the local flea market for a reasonable price (above right), which I used after the scrub plane. After the long stretchers were complete,  I moved on to the legs, which are five inches square and about forty-two inches long. After the first two sides of the legs were planed, there was quite a bit of mass to remove from the remaining sides (about 3/4”-1”)  to get them to the size I wanted. To get close to my finished thickness I used my broad axe to chop down close to my finish line (above). While hewing, I use a variety of techniques depending on how the grain is going, generally at an angle to the grain and taking some ladder cuts when required to prevent wood from splitting off uncontrollably. After hewing I plane the surface as described above. 


After the four legs were complete I moved onto the short stretchers that join the legs together. There are three on each set of legs and the dimensions are: for the top stretcher, four and one half inches by three and one quarter, the middle is three and a quarter inches by three inches and the bottom stretcher is three inches by two inches. They are all twenty-five inches long. They are all worked from the same six inch rough stock as the legs are made from. After the first two sides were square on the stock they were marked out with a marking gauge and cut out with my large frame saw (above) that I made in a previous blog entry. It works quite well, though the stock needs a far bit of clamping on my current bench to hold it in place. The parts were all then cut and planed. 

These are all the parts of the base that I have prepared for construction. It may have sounded fast, but trust me it was a lot of work. There are a few other parts that will be made after the base is roughly assembled, such as the shelf I plan on putting in across the long stretchers, the sliding deadman and the back for the vise. These will be prepared as needed. That concludes this entry, and join me next time where I will be starting the jointery on the legs.

© Shane Larson 2018