Saturday, March 05, 2011

Bench Update

I took this photo earlier today when I had finished fitting the four legs.  Since this photo was taken I've mortised the two front legs, half-way finished the two short stretchers, drilled all the dog holes and a holdfast hole, and started mortising one of the back legs.  I'm not going to use an adjustable height planing stop as on a traditional Roubo bench.  I find that on my other bench I always leave it set at the same height with my planing batten across the bench, which is much easier to use than a single point planing stop.  So I drilled two dedicated planing stop holes at the very end of the bench, and I'll probably make a couple of different thickness planing stops that I can drop in there.

The leg joints are nothing pretty, but they'll hold and that's all that matters to me for this bench.  Maybe someday I'll build my dream bench, but in the meantime this is going to be several steps up from my current bench, and I think I'll be happy with it for quite a while.

Yesterday my big box arrived from Lee Valley, which contained a vise screw for the leg vise, a large Japanese cat's paw for work (I have the tiny 6" version, and ordered the giant 14" version), and my Veritas small plow plane with five blades.  I can't wait to put it to work.  I ran it through some scrap real quick, but with my old bench buried under tools (so that I'm not tempted to use it), and my new bench still in pieces, I didn't have any really good workholding going on.  Unfortunately, my canned-ham hands force my knuckle to brush the brass adjustment knob when gripping the plane, but I think I can get used to it or alter my grip sufficiently for it to be a non-issue. 

Today a box containing my backordered holdfasts arrived from Gramercy/Tools for Working Wood, and I'm quite pleased.  I'm questioning whether I really need two of them, now that I've used one for a few minutes for a little sawing and mortise chopping.  Oh well, it doesn't hurt to have extra. 

Oh, and today I tested the automatic flesh detecting feature of my chisel and found it to be less than satisfactory.  While mortising, my chisel became stuck (which happened several times).  I found the easiest way to free it is to lift the chisel and the wood it is stuck in (while seated on the wood) and strike the wood with my mallet.  This worked great except for when I produced the perfect recoil in both of my hands and the chisel took a bite out of the meat on the side of my palm below my thumb.  It's fairly deep but nothing too serious, so I super glued it together and put a couple of little bandaids on it butterfly-style to take stress off of it, but the skin in that area doesn't get stressed too much anyways.

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