The legs of this Roman workbench are on a sightline of about 30° with a resultant angle of 15°, numbers which I created by using a square with a protractor head and a long blade. Once the blade of the square looked right to my eyes – not too splayed and not too vertical, I measured the compound angles right off the square.
(A full treatise on working with sightlines and resultant angles is in “The Anarchist’s Design Book.”)
Then I drilled four 1-3/4”-diameter mortises to see how solid the bench felt with just four legs.
I don’t have an auger bit that’s 1-3/4”, so I cut the mortises with a Forstner and a corded drill. Megan Fitzpatrick spotted me during the process, and I showed her how you can use two inexpensive laser levels to monitor your progress as you bore.
Even with Megan’s sharp eye and the assistance of the lasers, it was a challenge to bore the mortises without the Forstner bit or its angle wandering a tad. Right now the legs look a bit cattywampus, but once they are level to the floor some of that will disappear, just as it does with chairmaking.
After boring four mortises, we inserted the legs and turned the bench on its feet. It felt completely solid, even when we jumped on the benchtop. I think four legs is definitely enough.
But I wanted to be the first boy on my block with an eight-legged workbench. So I bored four more mortises, and today I fit the additional legs. The bench looks fairly unusual, all in all, but I like it.
— Christopher Schwarz