Doug's Bench Part III: Those Other Legs

After cutting the dovetails which joint the seat to the wide leg, I turned my attention to the set itself. Even with the small diagonal stretcher I added, I was concerned about the seat strength. At just over 1” think and with about 48” between the legs, I was worried that when a full size adult plopped themselves down on the bench in order to take their shoes off, the force of their plopping would cause the seat to bow and the wide leg to kick out.

Dry fitting the wide leg to seat dovetail joint.

In order to stiffen the seat I turned to the same method of reinforcement I used on the Funeral Chair seats – threaded rod & epoxy.

To begin with, I route out slots in the bottom of the bench which are ½” wide by ½” deep.  I made three (3) slots. Given the live edges, I run them relatively parallel with the edges, setting the straight edge I used to guide the router by eye. I lined the two (2) outside slots so that they extend into tails of the dovetails. This way the strength of the threaded rod will run all the way into the joint with the wide leg.
The process is simple with a 1/2" upcut spiral bit, a plunge router and a straight edge.

The finished reinforcement slots.

Before installing the threaded rod, I worked on the square legs, which are made from 8/4 rough sawn walnut. After milling them square, I determined the spacing between them and the arm length. Then I cut both legs and the arm at my miter saw. I actually find it more accurate for cutting miters than my table saw and Incra miter guide.
Dead accurate.

To join the legs to the seat, I cut a sort of slot tenon on the seat. In the leg, I cut a slot mortise, accidentally cutting it on three (3) sides of the legs instead of just one.

Oops. That joint on the side wasn't needed.

Then I put aside that set of legs and arm. I started over with a new rough sawn blank and this time after milling and cutting the legs and arm I cut the slot miter properly, only on the inside face. After filling the few knots with black dyed epoxy, I moved my attention back to the seat.

With the bulk of joinery done, it was time for the fun par. I removed the bark from the seat and wide leg. To do this I clamed them to my bench and ran down the edge with my RAS 115. For bark removal and general shaping I use a hard platen and 36 grit sanding pad on the RAS 115. It works wonderfully, slightly more controlled than a grinder and with noticeably better (but still mediocre) dust control. I then used an RO 90 with a soft platen and then with an interface pad to sand the edge up to 220 grit.


After the RAS 115.

After the RO 90.

With the bark off and the edge cleaned up, it was time to return to the threaded rod.

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