Wood: Dry-Fit the legs

Working on this workbench in a Roman style: apparently Roman carpenters and joiners and carvers worked at a seated bench, using body weight and simple tools to hold wooden panels in place. From Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Roman sites along the Rhine River, low workbenches have been recovered; replicating them, modern wood-workers have discovered they’re more comfortable, portable, and suited to amateur woodworking than the 17th century Roubo or other hefty bench designs.

Today I spent two and a half hours shaping and smoothing the legs, and trying to get the taper on the upper leg below the tenon just right… Nailed it on three legs, overshot the fourth… it’s now little loose. Alas More work required before glue-up. The nice thing about the Roman bench is that it’s also a perfectly comfortable place to sit and very sturdy; so it can go on my porch when not in use, and provide summer outdoor seating.

Par for the course, really. When I first made the legs, they were 33″ long — and the work bench was nearly chest height. The legs have a compound angle; instead of coming out from the bench at 90°, they’re at a 32° angle off of the right-angled sides of the bench; and instead of being straight up-and-down, 90° off the bottom of the bench, they’re angled at 15° off from that.

The result is that really elegant canted effect of the legs as seen in the two pictures at the bottom.

As I said before, I learned how to make this workbench from the videos of Rex Kreuger on YouTube. His guidance on the $30 workbench was the basis of this project, based in part of Chris Schwarz’s book with Lost Art Press, Ingenious Mechanicks. (although soon I’m going to have to think more about workholding on this bench, and flattening it still more. Flatness and workholding seem to be the most important aspects of having a workbench, with many other issues taking a back seat. (Is this paragraph advertising? OR is it giving credit where it’s due?)

I don’t think I’m ever going to achieve an occasionally-nourished dream of being a master furniture maker. I put it off a long time. But I think I have it in me to be a reasonably skilled amateur, and this feels like a wonderful step in the right direction.

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