Ace of Base

Even with the new semester beginning at school, I’ve managed to make some significant progress on the workbench. With all of the mortice and through tenons done and fitted, next up was getting the holes drilled for the pegs. For the solidest bench, I am using the ancient timber framing technique of drawboring the pegs. After drilling the holes for the pegs in the legs, I put the tenons through (dry) as tight as I could get them. Then using the same size drill bit (3/8″) I marked the hole location on the tenons. Then, after removing the tenons, I marked another hole 1/16″ in from that mark. THAT is the place to drill the hole in the tenon. By offsetting the holes, when driving the peg through, it will lock the joint together tighter then any clamp could ever do.

You can buy (or make) drawbore pins which help prepare the holes for pegging (see Chris Schwarz’s article in Woodworking magazine), but I was able to drive the oak pegs through with no real problems. The end of the pegs have to be tapered a little to work through the offset, but with a stout mallet, the pegs drove home.

Notice that I prefinished the ends of the through tenons with shellac to avoid any problems with glue wicking into the end grain. I started assembly with the short sides. One of the advantages of drawbored tenons, is that they do need any clamps. The pegs combined with the glue mean these joints aren’t going to move any time soon. (At least for a century or two!)

For final assembly of the base, and for finishing, I moved everything up to school and the shop area of the Theatre, a nice perk from the day job. (I really try to avoid doing any oil/varnish fishing in the house, and my finshing room (garage) is too cold for the finish to ever cure.) More glue and mallet whacks and the base is assembled. After the glue dried, I sawed the pegs flush, scraped and sanded and put the first coat of finish on. You can really see the curly oak pop!

For the stretchers, I used a stopped double chamfer on the top edge with a light chamfer on the bottom edge. That way, if, in the future, I choose, I can easily add a sliding deadman to the front. I will be adding a shelf after installation. The through tenons also got a light chamfer.

Even with out the top, the base is solid with no hint of wracking under pressure. Next step is to trim the wonky bits from the maple slab top and flatten it with my No. 608 jointer. Hopefully that will be my Ace in the hole.

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