Monday, January 13, 2014

The Workbench (Part 3)

As I said last time, I was kicking around the idea of building a tenoning jig to cut the tenons for the long stretchers. As I went out into the shop to start work on the tenons, I suddenly remembered this Fine Woodworking article featuring a "slick tenoning jig" made from phenolic plywood. Just for funsies, I looked up the cost of phenolic plywood and nearly fell out of my chair when I saw the price at Woodcraft. Thankfully, I had a nice big scrap of B/C grade 3/4" plywood and a can of paste wax to make mine just as slick and just as serviceable (and a bit simpler) for the cost of a little shop time.
Here's theirs...

...and here's mine.

Toggle clamps? We don't need no stinking toggle clamps!

A 48" stretcher ready for tenoning.
Truth be told, I had to build a straight-edge router jig in order to cut the dadoes in the tenon jig, so in essence, I built a jig to build a jig -- every woodworker's dream!

The test cuts went quite well, so I ventured to throw my 48" stretchers up onto the jig and cut away. The great thing about this jig is that you can batch out all of your cuts, which allows you to work pretty quickly but with a great deal of precision. In fact, you can even sneak up pretty close to your layout lines if you dare (and if your blade is dead-on vertical). You start by setting the depth of cut along the width of the tenon cheeks. Clamp the workpiece to the jig, run it through the table saw, flip the workpiece, and cut the other cheek. Then, you set the cut for the thickness of the tenon and follow the same procedure. After cutting all the tenons this way, I intend to use my crosscut sled to trim off the waste and reveal my tenons in all their glory. Note that I deliberately left the tenons a touch thick in both directions so that I can fine tune the fit.

My first tenon. I'm so proud.

I will admit that the jig can be a bit tricky with such a large workpiece. It already has a tendency to tip forward if it pinches the rip fence too much at the front. If I make another of these in the future, I might make it longer than the 12" the article recommends. Or I might try a jig I saw consisting of an adjustable plywood fence inside a deep crosscut sled. (Check it out on YouTube; it's pretty cool.) At any rate, though, the resulting tenon was dead-on square and exactly the measurements I need to finesse the fit.

Unfortunately, I ran out of gas pretty early on this particular day, and I can get pretty lazy and sloppy when I'm tired, so I called it a day before crosscutting and paring. I managed to get one tenon cut and ready for some finesse work, though, and I was pretty pleased with the results. Due to my lazy-tired state, though, I realized I was trying to pare with a chisel that needed honing and thus risking a mangled tenon. Not good.

Leg assembly glued up.
Oh, and I glued up the leg assemblies! I only have enough clamps to do one side at a time, and none of them are big enough to clamp the top stretchers down (hence the orange cargo straps), but it worked. Nice and square -- but I have to do a little fine tuning of the feet. I probably should have trimmed the ends after gluing up the legs. Oh well.
Hey, nice legs!

The Workbench (Part 1)
The Workbench (Part 2)

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