Dining Table bench – mortices 

The massive dirt moving project that is my back yard has been taking much of my  time recently and SWMBO banned morticing while our son is asleep (apparently the hammering was waking him up) so progress has been slow.  

I have cut the mortices in the legs where the skirt attaches.  I used my #45 to plow a shallow groove to guide my mortice chisel and chopped 1/2 inch mortices.  Once they were chopped the #45 and a router plane set the groove to a consistent depth to help keep the rail flat.  The outer side wall 3/8 inch wide which may be a mistake but it allowed for a longer tenon though  I followed the “half the rail” rule for sizing the tenon.

I’m slightly behind where I should have been because on Saturday I had almost finished the first tenon and was just making the final cut when I inadvertently marked the wrong side of the cut and ruined it.  Luckily I had not trimmed side rail to final length so I was able to salvage the part (though the tenons are slightly shorter than planned).

Well that went poorly

I’m slammed with work at the moment but since my glue showed up I decided to start putting the base together.  The base went in some clamps and the pin was driven home.


Looks good from this side….


Unfortunately a splintering sound alerted me to trouble.  I had to much offset, too much taper, or both and I ended up with a split pin and some blowout.


This side is a different story


Darn expiration dates…

We had family visiting over the weekend so I was not able to get any shop time until Sunday night.  I finished drilling the holes for my pins, cut the slots for my wedges, and cut my wedges.  Pins were tapered and waxed and everything was ready to go only to discover that both bottles of liquid hide glue had expired in February….


i think i will cut these longer

Update: These cuts were way to far from the edges to the wedges could not expand the tenon.  For the other tenons they were only a 1/4 inch from he edge.

Workbench – Uh Oh

One of the first phrases my son learned and understood was “Uh Oh”; when you hear a toddler go “Uh Oh” you have no idea what you are going to find.  Well last night I had an “Uh Oh” moment (what I said was a bit less family friendly).  

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I finished chopping the stretcher mortices in one of the legs.  I then drilled out one side of the mortice on the other three legs and since it was late, I decided to hold of on the noisy act of chopping and laid out some of the 3/4″ holes in the right front leg (which is the one I finished morticing).  

In his original design, Chris had three holes with an 8″ spacing.  When I marked these out, the bottom hole ended up in the middle of the mortice.  Apparently, when I laid out the mortices I was on the wrong side of the line I marked during the dry fit…..  

My choices are:

  • keep them where I have them and have stretchers that are 9 inches above the floor instead of the 4 inches I intended
  • re-mark and re-drill in the correct place and live with the holes in the legs

The platforms on my saw horses at 8 inches from the floor so I think my Moxon vise will still fit under the bench.  Unfortunately I marked and cut the front and rear stretchers based on the “correct” placement and the new position will end up interfering  with the lower support of the leg vise so I will end up stooping more to adjust the pin.


More Workbench Work

On Sunday I finished flattening the top and squared the front edge as best I could before making the front and back edges parallel.  Then it was time to square off the ends.  I decided to use my old circular saw (which has not been used in at least 8 years) to save some time and finishing each up each cut with a hand saw.  Unfortunately I made the rookie mistake of trusting the bevel gauge on the saw so while the ends are square to the front, there is a heavy slope compared to the top.


Once I figure out how to re-adjust the bevel gauge I will make another attempt but in the meantime the top needs to be made a consistent thickness which will be my after bedtime project this week.

Case Glue-up Difficulties

You will notice that even though I have more clamps I still need more.

Just once I would like a large glue-up to go off without a hitch.

Last night I glued the top and back panel into place and it was a mess.  After a dry fitting that went together fine I took everything apart, made some clamping blocks, and laid out the readjusted clamps on my bench.  Then I brushed liquid hide glue on each piece and assembled the back and slid it into place (by badly cut dovetails in this corner as what allowed me to assemble it in this manner).  I start hammering and clamping joints closed and realize that top piece of the back panel wont seat with the side (right by the red WoodPecker angle piece).  Fist I try a mallet, no luck, then I try to clamp it which resulted in damage to the tongue (and cursing, thank goodness my son was asleep).

I finally give-up and take the whole assembly apart (score one for the long open time of liquid hide glue) and trip down the Douglas fir panel with a hand plane and the joint goes together with no problem.

Okay, add a bit more glue and put it all back together; wont go together again in the same spot.  At this point, I am livid and decide this joint is going together even if it breaks something.  I find a scrap piece with a groove in it that matched the tongue and release ever clamp except the one right over the joint and I crank it down, HARD.  It finally goes together, thank goodness, and I tighten every clamp down.  The back corner is a bit out of alignment but the front edge is square so I can live with that.

Harvey Ellis Saw Till – Part 8 – The Back cont.

Between a sick kid and the sick parents that followed, last night was the first shop time in quite a while.


In addition to finishing the repair to the tenon that ended up to thin, I cut the two remaining tenons for the back dividers and made sure everything matched in size. I used a chisel to create a saw wall at the shoulder and I was amazed how well it worked. I also finally realized I am a moron since I have been battling with clamps to saw the tenon cheeks when I have a perfectly good Moxon vise. If you are a hand tool person and you don’t have a Moxon vise buy or build one, they are awesome.

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Rather than cutting these tenons down to tiny stubs I decided to chop two more mortises in the upper back panel which will also help to keep things in place. After a test fitting and some minor adjustments it was time to glue the middle divider to its corresponding back panel. Tonight the top of the carcass will get the same treatment.

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