Things to Make: A Joiner’s Bench

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After finishing your sawing trestle, you might be willing to undertake a larger project. I suggest trying to make a joiner’s bench. If you don’t already have one, it’s another important DIY tool that should be heavy and rigid enough to stand firm under plane and hammer.

For the general design and detailed measurements he is referred to Figs. 4 and 5, in which the dimensions of each part are figured clearly. The length of 5 feet, width of 2 feet (exclusive of the back E), and height of 2 feet 7-1/2 inches will be found a good average. If the legs prove a bit long for some readers, it is a simple matter to lay a plank beside the bench to raise the (human) feet an inch or two.

In order to give rigidity, the struts S1S2 of the trestles at the end and the braces DD on the front are “halved” where they overlap the legs and front so as to offer the resistance of a “shoulder” to any thrust.

[Illustration: Fig. 4.—Front elevation of Joiner’s bench]

Materials.—The cost of these will be, approximately: wood, 12s. 6d.; [12 Shillings. 6 Pence] bench screw, 1s. 6d.; nails and screws, 1s.; or 15s. in all. It is advisable to show the timber merchant the specifications, so that he may cut up the stuff most economically.

If the wood is mill-planed before delivery a lot of trouble will be saved, as no further finish will be required, except perhaps at the top corners. In passing, one should remark that the boards used should be of the widths and lengths given; while as regards thickness the figures must be taken as nominal, as in practice the saw cut is included. Thus a 1-inch board would, when planed, be only 7/8 to 15/16 inch thick, unless the actual size is specified, in which case something extra might be charged.

Construction.

The Trestles.—These should be made first. Begin by getting all the legs of exactly the same length, and square top and bottom. Then cut off two 22-inch lengths of the 6 by 1 inch wood, squaring the ends carefully. Two of the legs are laid on the floor, one end against the wall or a batten nailed to the floor and arranged parallel to one another, as gauged by the piece C, which is nailed on perfectly square to both, and with its top edge exactly flush with the ends of the legs.

Next take the 3 by 1 inch wood for the struts, and cut off a piece 32 inches long. Two inches from one end of it make a cross mark with the square, and from the ends of the mark run lines towards the end at an angle of 45 degrees. Cut along these lines, and lay one of the edges just cut up against C, and flush with the outer edge of L1 (Fig. 5). Tack the strut on temporarily to both legs, turn the trestle over, and draw your pencil (which should have a sharp point) along the angles which the strut makes with the legs. This gives you the limits of the overlaps. Detach the strut.

The marking-gauge now comes into use. Set it at 3/8 inch, and make marks on the sides of the strut down to the limits, pressing the guide against what will be the inner face of the board. The ends must now be divided down along the gauge scratches to the limit mark with a tenon or panel saw, the saw being kept on the inside of the mark, So that its cut is included in the 3/8 inch, and a cross cut made to detach the piece and leave a shoulder. The strut is “offered” again to the legs, and a mark is drawn across the bottom parallel to the ends or the legs for the final saw cut. Nail on the strut, pressing the legs well up against the shoulders. Its fellow on the other side of the legs is prepared in exactly the same manner; and the second trestle is a duplicate of the first, with the exception that the directions of the struts are reversed relatively to the C piece, to preserve the symmetry—which, however, is not an important point.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.—End elevation of joiner’s bench.]

Back and Front.—The only operation to be performed on the front piece B and the back G is the notching of them both on the inside faces at the centre to take the ends of the bearer F, which performs the important function of preventing any bending of the top planks. Lay the boards together, top edges and ends level, and mark them at the same time. The square is then used on the faces to give the limits for the notches, which should be 1/4 inch deep and chiselled out carefully.

Draw cross lines with your square 3 inches from each end of both pieces, on the inside, to show where the legs are to be. Bore holes in the boards for the 3-inch screws which will hold them to the legs.

Attaching the Trestles.—Stand the trestles on their heads and lay the back and front up to them, using the guide marks just drawn. A nail driven part way in through one of the screw holes, and a batten tacked diagonally on the DD lines, will hold a leg in position while the screws are inserted. (Make sure that the tops of the legs and the top edges of B and G are in the same plane.)

Affixing the Braces.—The braces DD, of 3 by 1 inch stuff, can now be marked off and cut exactly down the middle to the limits of the overlap. Screw on the braces.

The bearer F is next cut out. Its length should be such as to maintain the exact parallelism of B with G, and the ends be as square as you can cut them. Fix it in position by two 2-inch screws at each end.

The bench is now ready for covering. Begin with the front board, A1. Bore countersunk holes for 3-inch screws over the centre of the legs and half an inch from the front edge, 1 foot apart. Arrange Al with its front edge perfectly flush with the face of B, and tack it in place by nails driven through a couple of screw holes, and insert all the screws. The middle board, A2, is laid up against it, and the back board, A3 (bored for screws like the front board), against that. Screw down A3.

You must now measure carefully to establish lines over the centres of CC and F. Attach each board to each of these by a couple of screws. All screws in the top of the bench are countersunk 1/8 inch below the surface. Screw the ledge E, of 4 by 5/8 inch wood, on to the back of G, with 2-1/2 inches projecting. This will prevent tools, etc., slipping off the bench.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.—Perspective view of joiner’s bench]

The Vice.—This important accessory consists of an 8 by 2 by 15 inch piece, V, a 2-inch diameter wooden bench screw and threaded block, and a guide, F. (Note.—A 1-1/8-inch diameter wrought iron screw is very preferable to the wooden, but its cost is about 4s. more.) V should be tacked to B while the 2-inch hole for the bench screw is bored through both with a centre bit, at a point 8 inches from the guide end on the centre line of V. This hole must be made quite squarely to enable the screw to work freely. If a 2-inch bit is not available, mark out a 2-inch ring and bore a number of small holes, which can afterwards be joined by a pad-saw; and finish, the hole thus formed with a half-round rasp. The threaded block for the screw is attached to the inner side of H in the angle formed by the leg and the board A1. The guide F is then fitted. This is pinned in to V, and the slides through B. If a rectangular piece is used, cut the hole in V first; then screw V up tightly, and mark B through V. It may be found more convenient to use a circular piece, in which case the holes for it can be centre-bitted through V and B in one operation. If after fitting V projects above A, plane it down level.

The finishing touches are rounding off all corners which might catch and fray the clothes, and boring the 3/4-inch holes, HH, for pegs on which planks can be rested for edge planing.

For a “stop” to prevent boards slipping when being planed on the flat, one may use an ordinary 2-inch wood screw, the projection of which must of course be less than the thickness of the board planed. Many carpenters employ this very simple expedient; others, again, prefer a square piece of wood sliding stiffly through a hole in A1 and provided on top with a fragment of old saw blade having its teeth projecting beyond the side facing the work. The bench is countersunk to allow the teeth to be driven down out of the way when a “clear bench” is required.

Just a word of warning in conclusion. Don’t be tempted to nail the parts together—with the exception of the trestle components—to save trouble. The use of screws entails very little extra bother, and gives you a bench which can be taken to pieces very quickly for transport, and is therefore more valuable than a nailed one.

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