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Dining Table Bench

author-gravatar Clock_Man Aug 22, 2016

This was supposed to be a quick and easy bench for my neighbor. He owns a landscaping company and does me a lot of favors with helping out in the yard and doing consultations on what we want to do in the future. I figured I'd make them a bench his wife has been asking for.

I grabbed the wood (Cherry) out of my lumber supplier's "discount" pile, but I made sure to get the ones with the least amount of sapwood. All things considered, it was a great deal. Despite my frustrations (I'll explain in a sec) it's decent wood for projects like this that end up being gifts. It was the first time I've worked with pre-milled lumber, and honestly I didn't like it. I had little room to work with when it came to jointing and planing any cup or twist out, which was really frustrating. 

Started by doing rough layout on these boards. Since I was footing the bill for materials on this, I was a little more judicious with my board choices to eliminate as much waste as possible.  

All parts rough cut and ready for ripping and gluing.

I picked up this trick from Marc Spagnuolo on his outdoor bench build. Using holdfasts at the bench I can put a stop that I can use to register the legs on for cutting the mortises. I was able to get all 8 mortises on the legs done in ~5-6 minutes (after setup). I enjoy not having to get finicky with each piece and they just plop into place every time I change or rotate the legs.

Ok, so I know these tenoning jigs get a bad rap for being difficult to set up or not square, but this guy was the best $40 I've spent on Craigslist in a while. Sets up nice and square and I didn't have any trouble with initial setup. The only thing I would change is putting a waste block on the clamp to prevent any kind of denting when really putting pressure down. Maybe some kind of zero clearance piece on the back to help with blowout. I took the cuts slow and didn't have an issue. 

Normally I would use a dado stack for tenons, but these were awesome. Got them all done quick and they all fit exactly the same with clean cheeks. 10/10 would buy again.

Just doing a dry fit on the base to see how it's coming together.

Skipped a few steps here, but I put a taper on each leg and cut a large chamfer on the outer corners as well. Although my "client" had literally no care as to what it looked like, I took this as a chance to try a different design. I really like the overall look with the corners cut on the top to match the effect on the legs. If I could do one thing differently it would be to maybe increase the taper I took on the legs.

My second idea for this project was to not use my sander. Let's be honest, who likes sanding? No one, that's who. So I found it a great time to practice smoothing with my No 4. While the base proved to be easy because all the parts were super thin, the top proved otherwise. I need more practice to keep consistent with my planing in order to avoid the slight tracks from the iron.

Note to self: Buy a set of 5' pipe for long glue-ups. 

I frankensteined two of my clamps together for one side of this glue-up, but I had to get creative for the other side. Considering I'll be building a table for myself within the year, I do need a set of long clamps.

My bench was great for holding the top at the weird angles to clean up the corners I chopped off with my block plane. I'm really glad I had the front facing clamping surface to do this. 

Several coats of shellac later and the bench was done! I was going to connect the top to the base with some wood brackets, but I was lazy. I've screwed into the center of the top on each short apron then I made some wider holes in the long aprons for screws there. The wider holes should provide enough room for the top to move between seasons.


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