Portable Work Bench (Part 14) Back Leg Debate

We got to talking about the next step with the bench and concluded there is a process flow issue. We can not drill the holes for the bolts accurately until the upper stretcher/cross brace are built. We can’t build the upper stretcher until the back legs are build as that will greatly help with the glue up and set the distance between the front and back legs. So onto making the back legs it is.

Back leg clamped up.
Back leg clamped up.

Due to the fast approaching deadline, I have to figure out ways to do a fair amount of the process at home instead of in the big shop. Larger glue ups will likely still need to be done in the big shop, but I will do what I can to get everything else done at home.

Using the front leg angle and layout I was able to figure out the back leg layout fairly quickly. The legs will be 5×5, not inches, that’s boards glued up. I was able to work with the double mortises for both shorter stretchers and with the single mortise for the long stretcher, this will save time cutting and chopping.

Holes drilled for tenon, ready to cut the rest out.
Holes drilled for tenon, ready to cut the rest out.

I have glued up the appropriate five and six packs to form planks for both back legs. Then I glued four of the five layers together to form most of the leg. I have left out the face layer for now as I’m cutting and chiseling the rest of the tenons by hand. It would certainly be faster to do this on the band saw while in the big shop, but it is progress so I will take it.

To help speed up the process I drilled a hole at the base of the through tenon, then cut the sides with a saw. I used my back saw because it cut fast and smooth, but it wont let me go full depth. So I had to switch to a panel saw, its horribly dull and slow progress but I am not sure I want to take the time to sharpen it right now as its in need of a lot of work.

I did the cleanup with a couple of sharp chisels and the prototype mallets. In this short period of time I have learned to really enjoy a good quality mallet. Unfortunately the handle on the big one broke at the head, which was totally my fault. I originally suggested a half inch hole diameter, which is just to small. Add to that I was using excessive force, thankfully I have a spare mallet. I also used the plane float, because it was available and I had to try it. It worked amazingly well, easy to control and very effective.

Other back leg in the clamps.
Other back leg in the clamps.

With all of the tenons cut, I am able to glue the face side onto the back legs. This is a great sense of accomplishment and very good for a bench to have four legs.

Next a few quick passes on the jointer to clean up the legs. Then I can get working on both sets of short stretchers that go between the front and back legs.

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