Four Guys, Four Days, Five Workbenches – Day 3


As the third day commenced we were greeted by the sight of all the bench top slabs ready to move forward.  Removing all the clamps and seeing them we had to put the desire to move forward with them, and set them aside for  a while.

Day 3 was all about the legs.  Prepping the stock, gluing them up, and fitting them into the joinery already in the slabs.




We began much as we did Monday morning, ripping the 8-foot 2x12s but into two pieces rather than three, followed by chopping them to 36″.  They would be trimmed to each maker’s preferred length on Day 4.


Then out to the planer to get them all cleaned up.  We checked the thickness periodically to get it a perfect match to the laminae of the slabs as the design of the joinery depended on the laminations of the leg tenons fitting the mortises perfectly.


With the cleaned laminae ready, the assembly began.  The center lamina was off-set by 4″ inches given the configuration of the joinery and the thickness of the top slabs.  Since the legs were being cut to length the following day it made no point to cut them twice, so we just left the center piece longer.  Besides. if the fit was really tight we had a sacrificial surface to address with a sledge hammer.

The legs were assembled with deck screws and fender washers serving as the clamping system.  It is a method I use increasingly for components that will not be finished furniture.  This allowed us to get them all glued up without external clamps, and we set them aside until after lunch.


In the mean time we turned our attention to getting the slabs ready to receive the legs later in the day.  That meant that the underside of the slabs needed to be flattened enough to provide a solid base against which the legs could be seated.  A few minutes with a scrub plane and a few more with a fore plane was sufficient for our needs.  Here is Bill flattening the larger of his two benches.  This one would be fitted with an Emmert K2 after it was finished.  I was green with jealousy about this as I don’t own a K2 and in fact had never seen one complete in the flesh.


After lunch we took the screwed-up laminated legs out to the planer and got them edge planed to a width of exactly 5 inches, which was the width of the mortises we had already built.


With the legs now prepared fully it was time to cut the dovetails.  The only space in the barn outfitted for the task was my own workshop, so all five of us were packed into that place to do the deed.  It was some pretty close fellowship and actually turned out to be a lot of fun to work so closely together in a small space doing very confined tasks.



In a pleasant surprise(?) after sawing and a little but of tuning with a joiner’s rasp each of the twenty legs went into place with at most a gentle tap of the two pound sledge.  No fierce beating was required whatsoever.  Stewart, a comparative newcomer to furniture making (he had never before hand-planed a large surface and these were his first dovetails) was the first to get his bench up on its feet, followed in short order by the others.




Thus endeth Day 3, on schedule or even ahead of schedule.