Wood: Leg Day

Time to do leg day. As in, put in the wedges for the legs of my Roman-style low workbench, drive them home with a mallet, and then saw off the ends of the tenons on the legs to leave me with a smooth workbench surface. Once that’s done, the legs get marked on their sides with a pencil, and cut so that the bench will stay level when I put it on a flat surface like the floor or the driveway.

The process went easily enough, though it does turn out that I should have used a harder, less chippy wood than I did use for the wedges. I did not glue the legs — I probably should have, but I have storage and transportation issues to think about when it came to this project, and reversibility to consider, as well. All the same, the fit of the legs (and the wedges) was tight enough that I don’t think anything is likely to come unstuck at this time or any time in the near future. This is pretty solid. As the wood dries out, things might shift… and then I can use glue when I need to reset the legs in 1-3 years.

And… it’s done. I’m left with a workbench about 7 1/2 feet long, five boards wide, and weighing a good 30-40 pounds, easy. Putting it into storage is going to be a trick, I admit. But at the same time, I can carry it easily. And its real work holding power comes not from its own weight, but from mine. By standing or kneeling on the board, sitting on it, or even leaning on it, I can control whether it moves or not, whether it shifts or not. I am not a lightweight by any means, and nothing that I hold in place with my bodyweight is likely to shift on this bench while I hold it there.

In one of the pictures above, you can see a crack in the end of the bench. It’s not a crack, actually; it’s a place where the glue didn’t bind the sides of the boards together cleanly, and the result is a long, wedge-shaped opening in the surface of the bench. I’ve received some suggestions about repairing it — filling it in with (glow-in-the-dark) epoxy or two-part resin; mixing together saw-dust, plane shavings, and wood glue and filling this gap; cutting a piece of 2×4 or similar to fit the gap at the correct angle, and gluing that — what do you think I should do?

All the same, I’m glad it’s done, or at least done enough that I can move on to next steps like smoothing the top, drilling holes for bench dogs and support pegs, making a plane stop, and maybe adding a vise. The whole idea is that I didn’t put in the full amount of smoothing work on this bench’s legs and underside that I could have — because I have other projects I’d like to work on more than the bench with which I make them. There’s power in being done — sometimes the perfect is the enemy of done.

Shout out: I learned to make this bench from Rex Kreuger‘s YouTube Channel, and the video on making a $30 bench, based on Lost Art Press‘s Ingenious Mechanicks by Christopher Schwarz.

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