The last part of the main construction was the four stretchers. I marked out for the mortise and tenons by clamping the stock to the leg and running a knife down to mark the shoulders.
Once again, I removed most of the waste with a brace and bit before cleaning up with a chisel. After the bench top joinery, this was fairly straight forward and I was able to go for a full dry fit pretty quickly.
The next job on the list was to make some kind of provision for the leg vice. The chop and parallel guide can be done at the end of the project, but at this stage, while the bench is still in bits, it made sense to make the screw and nut and chop out the mortise for the guide.
The Plans call for a 2½” screw and nut, which is out of my price range to buy, and out of my ability range to make. I can, however, cut a thread on a 1½” dowel, so this will have to do. I have read various commentators on this subject, some of which claim that 1½” for a wooden vice screw is not enough, while others reckon that it just about big enough. Unfortunately, I have no choice – if I want a wooden vice screw (and I do) 1½” diametwer is my limit. If it doesn’t work out I can always replace it with a metal one, or else spring for the larger diameter for Christmas or something.
Anyway, the first task was to make a 1½” dowel. I began with a piece of beech, which when cut to a square cross-section, went into the lathe. I roughed out to round, leaving it oversized and then made a series of cuts to the final diameter using a parting tool. Then it was just a case of cleaning up the waste between these cuts.
A few light passes with a round-nosed scraper and the dowel was done. I soaked it overnight in boiled linseed oil and cut the threads the next day.
I also chopped out the notch for the nut, which was also made out of beech.
Other little jobs completed at this time were chopping out the mortise for the parallel guide to pass through the leg, ¾ holes in the bench top and one of the legs for hold fasts and dogs. I found that the bench top was actually a bit too thick for the hold fasts to work properly – apparently they operate best at thicknesses under 3 -3½”. I found that if I counterbored the holes from underneath, 1″ diameter by 1″ deep, then the hold fasts worked perfectly.
And, that’s it for now. We’re getting worryingly close to glue up now. Best leave that for another day.
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