Monday, March 16, 2009

The fun for the night

Today was a long day. I sawed off the ends of the top, and didn't do too badly considering I was using a Disston D8. A lot of work.

I then flipped the top and laid out and cut the massive mortises into the top for the legs. These things are 5"x2" by 2" deep. That's a lot of hard maple to cut out. I tried all kinds of things, and finally figured out the best combination on the last mortise. I bored holes around the edge of the mortise with my brace and bit and then cut out the middle with my, now indispensable, 1/2" Butcher mortise chisel. That was even more work than the sawing!

I got the base, somehow, up on the bench where the top was upside down. I fitted, and fettled the mortises (I thought) so that they fit the tenons in the legs. I then began to pound them in. The legs got stuck and wouldn't go further in, or come out.

Risking my life, I very carefully flipped the bench off of my old bench and onto the floor. That was scary, but it all came down fine. I then began to whack at the top (with suitable sacrificial boards to protect it). It all seemed like I was making very slow progress, which should have told me to stop, and work even harder to separate the two pieces and re-look at the tenons. Instead, through being tired, sore, hungry and anxious to see it together, I kept pounding. Eventually, I had the inevitable tragedy. I started to split the front boards. The split is along the glue line where I believe I had too little glue in the initial set I glued up.

At this point, I put down my tools, turned off the radio, turned off the light and left. I ate dinner, watched a movie and then went back up and very carefully, with a couple of my big vises turned into spreaders, separated the base from the top.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to fix the split. I've written to the old tools list as well as Titebond to ask what they suggest. The split is in two places: one whole face of the vise end block (between 3 and 4) , which is the most serious place to have a separation, and about six inches down from the vise opening along the joint between boards 1 and 2. My concern is that I find a glue that will work with the glue-coated faces of the boards, and that I can inject into the crack. I'm thinking epoxy at the moment, we'll see what we hear from Titebond.

Other than the crack, the bench looked really cool finally put together. I can't wait to fix this and begin making the leg vise.

Oh, yeah, I've already trimmed the tenons a little bit. I won't be doing the same thing again.



  1. Bob Smalser has the answer for your glue problem. He talks about the repair ability of various glues on the Sawmill Creek forums at:

    He has pretty much turned me against any Titebond PVA glue for any place where I anticipate a future repair. PVA is OK for my workbench, not for my boats.

  2. Thanks, Bob. Repairing it with the same glue seems to have done the job, but then I've not stressed it.

    I was a bit shocked to hear Frank Klausz at the Woodworking in America conference say that he just uses plain old Elmer's White Glue. The same stuff you used in school. It's got a really long open time and he swears he's never had a failed joint with it. But then his joints are rather better than mine. And, he pointed out, it's dirt cheap.

    It's something to think about.



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