Shaker Bench II

My previous post was on a project I recently made off a plan of a Shaker bench.  The author lengthened the bench and added a backrest.  If you refer back to that post you will read how I battled with the three way assembly due the sequence given in the plans.  So I decided to redo this bench the way I thought was more logical and of course easier to do.

I decided to leave the backrest out for a number of reasons.  I didn’t have enough wood, I was remaking this bench just to try and find a better way to assemble the sub-assembly which didn’t involve the backrest, and the original Shaker design did not have a back rest-par for the course for these ascetic people I suppose.

In fact I only had one plank of Poplar and one plank of Kiaat  (Pterocarpus angolensis) available.  So I decided to use the bland Poplar for the underside (legs and seat supports),  and the rich-grained Kiaat for the seat.

I started by cross cutting the Poplar plank to length with my radial arm saw-4 pieces for the legs and the remaining long piece for the seat supports.

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Above photos show single Poplar plank cross-cut into 4 short pieces (2 each per leg) and one long piece for the 2 seat supports.  The first photo shows the some offcuts sitting on the saw-bench underneath which are kept for testing the finish.

The pieces were then jointed and thicknessed.  My son developed an ingenious way to hold the dust extraction hose from getting in the way of the thicknesser outfeed table.  Basically an elastic tie attached to a tensioned cable at ceiling height:

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Then the bench end pieces which make up the legs were glued together:


These end pieces then had an arch cut out of them to form two legs and they will then be lap-joined to the seat support.  Again see the previous post for more on this.

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After the legs/side pieces were cut out, they were joined to the supporting seat supports. The lap joint was cut with a tenon saw and only a dry fit was done.


In the above photo you will notice that only the the seat support to your right has been joined.  You will also notice in both pictures how the seat support is not flush with the top of the leg/side piece, but is recessed by 12mm.  The part of the leg/side piece sitting proud will fit into a dado that will be cut into the underside of the seat, hence the three way fit that I referred to earlier.

Now we come to the part where I differed in my order from the previous bench.  Whereas the previous bench’s instructions called for the dado to be cut into the seat support first, I now took the whole dry fitted sub-assembly pictured above and laid it onto the underside of the seat.  I then marked out the dado directly and cut them.  This seemed liked the more logical (& esier way) to do things.  In reality it was much easier.

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I also added butterfly or dovetail keys on the seat for effect.  I made them from the same wood type so as to lessen the contrast. I placed four in a row along the centre line, two larger ones on the outside and two smaller on the inside. I used the Rockler jig to cut them out.

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Kiaat tears out very badly so I quickly gave up on the handplane and continued with the #80 scraper. I mixed fresh orange shellac and applied 5 coats with a brush and finished with one coat of diluted poly.  The shellac decreased the contrast between the light Poplar & darker Kiaat.

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Toolbox for Leathercraft Tools.

In between projects and needed to practice my hand cut through dovetails, so I made this box to keep my leather-crafting tools.  I used South African Pine, which has a lot of knots but  is relatively cheap and easy on the tools’ edges.  I decided to make small trays of plywood that  stack on top of each other, as there are quite few tools and I didn’t want them to bang against each other.  The lid was frame and panel, the frame was mortice & tenon and the panel made from a local hardwood called Kiaat, was raised by hand with a Stanley #78 rabbet plane and a #5 Jack plane.

I cut the dividers for the tool trays with the help of my Bridge City Tools KM-1 Kerfmaker.  The next sequence shows the trays being stacked from the bottom up, first empty and then with the tools in place.  Finish with Danish oil and wax.

For the tray bottoms, some I left bare, others i covered in Skyvex-a nice thin imitation leather that bookbinders use, and some I stuck on some veneer offcuts.