Wokbench Legs

It has been quite a while since I have had some time in the shop but Saturday I was able to cute the tenons on the remaining legs. Due to a combination of lack of skill and my saw plate being a bit to thin for this application I had to correct some flatness issues with the tenons before I cut the sliding dovetail angles. The open side was easily corrected using a router plane.

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The inner faces were cleaned up using the large 2 inch chisel I sharpened previously. I purchased it just for this purpose and it worked great.

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Then I cut the angles for the sliding dovetails and corrected any errors in the cut using a chisel. Next weekend will be the labor intensive task of flattening, thicknessing, and dimensioning the bench-top so I can lay out the mortises.

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Roubo Workbench – Legs p 1

While I wait for the dimensional 1X12 pine to adjust to my shop (I have been unable to find a source for rough 4/4 pine or fir near San Francisco) I am finally working on the legs for my workbench. I have previously dimensioned these legs at the TechShop but they moved a bit in the new shop.

I marked out the tenons on one of the legs, clamped it to my workbench top, and started cutting with my hybrid cut tenon saw.

Sawing the sides.
Sawing the sides.
My saw plate it a bit shorter than the tenon so I finished with a Japanese pull saw
My saw plate it a bit shorter than the tenon so I finished with a Japanese pull saw

Next I placed the leg on my saw bench and bashed out the central waste with my ½ mortise chisel (and woke my wife up from a nap in the process).

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Then I sliced of the dovetail cheeks; it’s not great but after some cleanup with my chisels and a router plane it should work. Three more to go; hopefully the last one will be in decent shape.

Still needs some cleanup
Still needs some cleanup

Tapered Sliding Dovetails by Hand – The Slot

In my continuing quest to not be embarrassingly bad at hand tool work I decided to add a learning project to the queue of house projects demanding attention. Now that we have moved everything out of storage and into the new house I realized my collection of woodworking magazines and books are a bit out of control. Eventually I plan on building a version of the Harvey Eliis Bookcase from Robert W. Wang’s book Classic Arts & Crafts Furniture (http://www.shopwoodworking.com/classic-arts-crafts-furniture-u3160) but in the meantime I decided to build a small bookshelf out of dimensional pine from the hardware store but to make it interesting I decided to use tapered sliding dovetails for the construction. I had recently watched Roy Underhill’s episode “The Case for Books” where he demonstrated making tapered sliding dovetails for a multi-part bookcase and used his layout technique.

I was looking for some decent 1X12 boards at the local hardware store but only the 1X10s looked usable so I bought three boards and cut out the side pieces leaving enough wood for one shelf from each cutoff.

First the layout; each dove tail has a 2:1 slope (1/4th inch deep and 1/8th of reduced with) and tapers down in width by 1/8th of an inch on each side. The dovetail is only 8 inches long so this results in a fairly intense slope so not sure how well this will hold up. My two “new” sets of dividers helped out immensely in this process, they were a good buy. Then just like in the stopped dado I chop out a relief are for the end of the saw; the nice thing is that because of the taper, the entire square will be covered by the self so the edges of the hole do not need to be perfect.

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Because I am still getting used to hand saws I am cheating by using a cleat that have the 1:2 angle already cut on it and my Bad Axe hybrid saw makes quick work of the cut. You can see how the relief cut makes a room for the end of the saw.

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After cutting the other side most of the waste is zipped out using a chisel bevel side down and then a router plane flattens out the bottom at the final depth. Don’t forget to clean out the corners by skewing the router plane so the blade works its way under the top edge.

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After a bit of cleanup work with a chisel we end up with a nice tapered dovetail slot.

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Update: I have since learned that it is better to keep once side of the slot square and to only dovetail/taper the bottom side of the shelf.  It is also worth noting that this a much higher level of taper than you would use on hardwood or even good softwood, this pine was very squishy.