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Progress Report

It is now two weeks since I began working on the bench. I suspect that my plans to finish it the first weekend were a touch optimistic

What has been frustrating has been the feeling that I get two paces forward, and then move back one. This is in part due to using Jarrah I have salvaged over the years - all needs to be laminated. For example, the stretchers are three layers each to reach the desired 2" thickness ..

I am beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel, however. The top is nearing completion, and all the pieces for the base are essentially ready to go. I have
estimated the final weight of the bench, and was shocked to discover that it will end up 182kg or 400 lbs. 

Much of the time to date has been determining how to fit the Benchcraft tail vise (wagon vise). The first issue was that the oak benchtop's final thickness is 3 1/2" (rather then the 4" ideal for which the BC was designed). This is not a big deal as it just requires spacers to align with the 4" end cap (all in the instructions).

The second issue was to decide how far out to place the dog holes - in a continuous, unbroken line outside the legs, or broken by the legs but close to the edge of the bench? I decided to go for the latter. The bench dogs are 2" from the edge of the bench, each 3" apart, except for the area of the legs, where they are 6" apart. I also decided not to include a planing stop. Either I will use the first bench dog, or I will use a jig that uses the bench dog and a holddown.

(the bench dog strips were shown in the previous report)

So the order today was (1) form the tenon for the end cap, as this forms part of the tail vise screw installation, (2) rout out the mortice for the screw, and then (3) glue in the bench dogs.

I have watched a few videos on various blogs of the end cap tenon being formed with a circular saw and a power router. I took a slightly different route.

Firstly, I sawed the shoulders of the tenon on a sliding tablesaw ...

Then used a wide chisel to split the waste off ...

The first side I used my old Stanley #93 (perfect for a 1" deep tenon), as it could adjust from thick to fine shavings. 

On the other side I used a Veritas skew block plane. This was a better choice.

Having then routed the slot for the tail vise screw, I was finally able to glue on the dog hole strips.

The side piece and end cap are both loose (they will later be dovetailed together) ...

Here is the underside of the bench with the wagon vise under installation (flip the image 180 degrees in your mind to recognise the vise is on the rear left side of the bench). As the bench top is 3 1/2" thick and the the end cap is 4" high (to fit the wheel at the correct height), you will see a spacer under each steel runner (the spacers are each 1/4" high. A 4 " thick bench would recess the runner by 1/4").

Here is a view into the vise. The area for the screw was routed out. The slot for the moving dog hole was built in.

The vise, end cap and side rails are loose at this point. They have been cut to exact size. The next step is to dovetail the sides to the end cap, and then glue and pin the end cap to the bench via the tenon (shown in the original post).

Regards from Perth


January 2012