Benched

Since I’ve been working on the Walnut slab in previous posts I’ve wanted to make it into a bench but I wasn’t sure if the other pieces of wood I had on hand were going to look good matching the slab. I had another piece of black walnut kicking around from a previous project but wasn’t sure if the darkness of the piece was going to be too much. I figured worst case scenario is I build it anyway and then I could just get another lighter top to put on it.

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This was the piece of 8/4 Walnut that I needed to flatten before I started anything. It was just a bit too large to fit through the planer so when I planed the slab, I threw this on the sled and cleaned it up. This took a lot less time than the slab because it was already fairly flat to begin with but still took it in short passes.

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Instead of sanding the finish out, I just used my hand planes to clean up the stock. It planes beautifully and I like the workout 🙂

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I wanted to do some mortise and tenon legs using a contrasting piece of wood. I went to my local wood supplier and originally grabbed a 1″ thick piece of ash that had a very small live edge section to it. I thought it would look good placed directly center of the piece but by the time I was done jointing and planing the piece, it ended up down to 3/4″. Because everything else is pretty beefy, I thought it wouldn’t look right being so thin. Went back to the shop and picked out a nice 1 3/4″ piece of ash that had some really nice grain in it. This piece was a lot more stable and held its size even after jointing and planing it. I laid out the tenon cut on the piece and used the table saw to cut it. Because it’s a long piece I wasn’t really able to cut the tenon upright. Instead I just cut it flat but because of the rounded profile of the saw blade, I couldn’t get all the way through. I finished the cut up with a Ryoba saw and got a really nice clean cut all the way down. A couple passes with a chisel and it was completely cleaned and ready to mark.

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Next up was cutting the mortises. I actually made the tenons a little longer so I could trim them up once I was done. This helped because I used the small cut-off’s to mark up the Walnut legs mortise. I marked them with a pencil and then followed up by using my marking knife to get a good chisel wall to start paring down. I started off by drilling a bunch of holes through it on my drill press which made cleaning out the mortise go pretty quickly.

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Here it is with a dry fit of all the parts. Everything fits pretty snug and the mortises were cut fairly well. There’s a hairline gap on the outsides but really nothing in the grand scheme of things.

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I’ve always liked the look of the tusk tenons which hold the tenons snugly into place. I was really nervous about doing this because the mortise was on an angle and I didn’t want it to be too loose where it didn’t do its job and hold everything in place. I spent my time and really marked out the layout of everything. I then cut a small block of wood at the same angle as my peg and this helped get the slope perfect. I drilled out a good chunk of the waste with a cordless drill staying well inside the lines. Then it was a slow process of chiselling down all the way and meeting up with it on the other side. This whole process took a couple hours to do both sides but it was well worth the trouble because it turned out great and had a really nice fit.

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The pegs are made from the same wood that I made the bowties from to hold the slab crack in place. I left a good chunk of meat on the top of the peg because I’ll probably shape them into a more contoured peg.

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Now that these are done, it’s down to the finishing touches on everything before I sand it down and finish it up. Doing plenty of research on how to finish the top but there’s so many methods, I need to figure out what works best for me.

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