Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An indoor bench

I own five stationary power tools. A baby drill press, a wet grinder, a Taig minilathe, a jigsaw and a bandsaw. The bandsaw lives in the shop, and is unusable during the winter; the other three live inside the house. The jigsaw sits on the kitchen table. Until recently, they sat on Workmates -- the greatest UK invention since the steam engine. But that meant that when I had to use the Workmates, the tools had to go on the floor. Besides, the lathe bench blocked my refrigerator door. So it's time to build a new bench. By careful measurement, I contrived to guild a bench that would just hold all-but-the-jigsaw. It is also an exercise in drawbored mortise-and-tenon joints. I have made many mortise-tenon joints, but always tight fits, secured with glue. Not until I read Peter Folansbee's blog did I realize how these joints really work. They are made for a loose fit. The hole in the tenon is offset towards the shoulder of the mortise. You drive a peg through it, and it pulls the tenon into the mortise. It is bomb-proof. Peter's blog (and website) have some pictures of the process, and see John Alexander's green woodworking website.

Anyway, off we went. I should have taken more pictures. Here's the bench under construction:Observe the Workmate, holding a piece of wood so I can cut the tenon. I don't show the floor, but it looks like chaos. All the wood is scrap, found lying around. I wanted a top made out of 2x6 but couldn't find them in the snow. Maybe next spring... so I used plywood to make the top. The result is
Cost USD 0.00. Now let's put some power tools in their place:
Much nicer. And I have two freed-up workmates, sitting on the porch ready for action. And I can now open the refrigerator door all the way! Long live drawbored joints. It is much easier to make a loose joint than a tight one.

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