Well, it’s been two months since my last posting. And the bench has come a long way, though there’s still a long way to go.
I ended up having the Douglas fir resawn in half. Many thanks to my friend and fellow woodworker Doug Ward. I’ve now laminated the bench top and flattened it. I did this outside in the yard where I could easily move the long boards around as well as make a mess. Flattening took only an hour or two with a well-tuned jointer plane in which I’d installed a cambered plane iron. I set the plane for a fairly heavy cut to facilitate flattening. It was a good workout and covered the immediate area with long shavings in a 10′ radius (the wind was partially to blame).
After flattening, I moved it indoors to further acclimatize to its final environment. A few weeks later when I checked on it, I was horrified to see that it had developed a slight cup. I applied moisture to the concave side to get it to expand and flatten out. This worked well and I was happy not to have to flatten it again. A few weeks later, I checked it again, only to find it in the same condition – cupped. I suppose that the flat top only lasted as long as the moisture remained. Once the wood once again reached equilibrium, the cup reappeared. Someday I’ll get around to doing that.
The base structure is now complete. I laminated some cherry for the feet and shaped them with the bandsaw and some light sanding. To join the cherry crotch legs to the feet, I cut a pair of massive tenons on the ends of the legs and a pair of matching mortises in each foot. I took my time cutting the joints and was rewarded with a piston fit. Next, I cut the notches for the Douglas fir stretchers. They are joined with complex half-laps. I used a Japanese dovetail saw and a chisel for this joinery. They seated well with a little “finessing” with a mallet.
Eager to get an idea of what the finished bench would look like, I set the top on the base. But there is still much work to be done. I have to build a cabinet base to house my hand tools. The cabinet will consist of five sections side-by-side, each with a few drawers. The long boards with the natural edge you see to the right of the bench are cherry. They will be used for the drawer fronts. I also need to secure the bench top to the base. And, yes, I will need to re-flatten the top.