Building this bench has been a lot more like building a daybed for a giant snake than a typical workbench.
After drilling the mortises last Thursday, I got some time yesterday to cut the wedges for the legs, to kerf the tenons (to make it easier for the wedges to do their job) and assemble the entire thing with hide glue.
The wedges are made from an ash plank I’ve kept around since 2007, believe it or not. It’s an offcut from making the benchtop to my first Holtzapffel workbench that year. It is the most springy and resilient ash I’ve ever worked with. And as I wanted to wail on these wedges, that ash was just the ticket.
After getting all the mortises and tenons painted with glue, I put all the joints together and flipped the bench onto its feet. Then came the fun part with a small sledgehammer.
When building chairs, I have to be careful not to split the seat when driving in the legs or wedges. I try to stop beating the parts exactly one blow before splitting the seat.
With these enormous 1-3/4”-diameter tenons and the 3-1/2”-thick oak top, however, splitting was not going to be a problem. So I knocked the wedges in like I was playing Whack-a-Mole, Deathmatch Edition. When each wedge seated fully, it made a Biblical thunk.
Today I’ll clean up the assembled benchtop, level the legs and start drilling the holes for holdfasts and wooden stakes.
— Christopher Schwarz