Built a bar-stool

The legs look greener in real life.

This project went well; I had a lot of things to figure out at just about every stage of the build. I’d like to build more of these, and I’m recording here a bunch of the things to remember, or do differently next time.

This was a project article written by Peter Galbert for the June 2019 issue of Fine Woodworking. I tried to just do what Peter said to do and not overcomplicate things with modifications. I stuck to that pretty well except for one large change. That is that I ended up shaving the legs and stretchers instead of turning them. I tried really hard to turn those parts. I’ve tried really hard to like turning in general. While turning these legs I realized how much I dislike turning. I built a shavehorse and love using it. I’m going to sell my lathe.

  • There were some rough spots on the bottom of the seat because of a bit of inconsistency in thickness of the boards I glued up to make the seat. I thought those would get cleaned up later in the process but they weren’t. Clean up the bottom of the seat before, or right after gluing it up.
  • Less is more. Shape the seat less. It’s pretty. But a little too country on the ends.
  • Angle the bevel on the under side of the seat back more, at least in the front. Do most of this on the band saw when first cutting out the seat.
  • I’d been thinking it, and Jeff said it before I did; move the front mortises back into the seat just a bit. We thought this visually, but it will also move those mortises back into the thicker part of the seat.
  • Steam bending; The forms need some work. Maybe skip the v-groove on the form side and just have that in the little clampy parts. Also do a test of what works to glue that felt down; a bunch of those came loose.
  • The little levery things on the form need to be attached via longer arms so that the arms are more parallel to the legs when clamped down.
  • Don’t crack the seat. Thinking I’d avoid denting the seat if it was against the bench, I put a couple of layers of leather on it, and pounded the seat near the mortises while seating the legs. And the seat split near both of the front mortises.
  • Don’t drill through the leg where it’s supposed to be a blind mortise. Duh.
  • Line the wedges up well enough to not have any gaps. Duh #2.
  • All my good spokeshaves are high-angle. They’re great, but a low-angle shave might be good for short grain like on the ends of the seat.
  • The contrasting color on the seat bottom is a neat effect. And it adds a lot of work. If you do that next time make sure to mask off the whole thing while painting the legs and finishing the seat
  • Milk paint. Love it and hate it. I put on 2 coats of yellow followed by 3 coats of the blue. It looked really blue when I started with the TruOil finish. And somehow the oil pulled the yellow forward, and made it green. Test board, maybe?
  • Milk paint, point 2: Filter it like Galbert says to. I filtered the blue but not the yellow. And the difference was noticeable. I just used a paint filter from Ace.
It cracked like this on both front mortises when we were seating the legs, I think before I wedged them.
The double-sided form worked pretty well.
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Nordic Ski Waxing Bench

I just finished a ski waxing bench.  It’s all from scraps including the leather, which was from a bag of scraps I bought from the Duluth Pack store.  There are no legs on this, just a bunch of rubber bumpers on the bottom.  The thinking is that you just set this on a table or on the floor, which is how my daughter used it the first time.  There isn’t much horizontal pressure when waxing and the rubber bumpers seem to be enough to hold the bench in place.waxbench_withski

The ideas for the design, including the rat trap were not mine; I saw them online somewhere, though I can’t find the sites again now to provide links.


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Tongue and Grooves with Veritas Plow Plane

Plow plane with conversion kit installed

I’m working on the shelf underneath the Roubo bench. I’m using some very old boards I’ve had in the shop; California cypress. The wood is beautiful, and has wavy grain and is brittle. Not too fun to work. I used the Veritas plow plane with the conversion kit to make tongue and grooves in these shelf boards. It was a tough test. In addition to being brittle a number of the boards even had knots on the edge where I made grooves.

I like this plow plane a lot. It’s pretty easy to set up. And once set up I’ve always found it to hold it’s setting. The one drawback is that the shavings go into my hand instead of up onto the bench like with antique plow planes. So I have to stop every few strokes to clear the shavings.

I don’t know if I’ve used this to make a tongue before. It worked fine, and wasn’t too tough to set up. Some poor planning on my part caused me to have to switch from tongue setup to groove setup and back to tongue setup, which wasn’t too bad. The largest blade available makes a 1/4″ tongue. I was working with boards 7/8″ thick and would have liked one size larger.

Given that I know of no new alternatives out there except for the new Veritas combination plane, and copies of the Stanley #48 and #49 planes at $195 each, I’d definitely go with this plow plane again (or possibly the combination plane if I wanted to add the ability to use it to make beads.)

The underside showing the 2nd “conversion” skate and 1/4-inch tongue blade

The groove in a cypress board

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The First Flattening

WordPress requires an upgraded plan to put video in a post.  So just a link to video at youtube below.  It is a time-lapse of the first time I flattened my Roubo bench.  I love my old Stanley fore plane (#6).  The stoppage in the middle of the video was to remove a nail that I uncovered with the plane.

Flattening Workbench at Youtube (45 seconds)

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Sawing To The Solution?

About 1/3 of the way through marathon cross-cut number two

A confession: Hi my name is John and I’m a crappy sawyer.

I’ve gotten along well enough with most of the woodworking skills.  I’m confident working with chisels and hand planes.  But though my saws are well-sharpened I have not yet learned to cut straight and square.  I have a saw-bench that is the right height, but on the cuts with the large saws the cut will usually dive to my left on the under-side of the board.

Tonight I might have figured it out.  I cut off the ends of my bench top with my 26″ cross-cut saw.  I cut one end one night, and the other end the next night.  I need to pace myself.  Half-way through the second cut I realized that, right at the end of the saw-stroke I’m pushing the saw to the right so that my hand and the tote don’t block my view of the line.  I’m trying to view the line as long as possible.  During the rest of that cut I focused on just pushing the saw through the kerf and holding it in-line with the kerf best I could.  It felt much different.  Now I have to try to remember this the next time I’m sawing, and see how it goes.

Also – pictured is my Spear and Jackson saw.  It’s sweet.  Nothing against the Disstons and their relatives.  But there are a lot of other good ones out there too.

My sweet S&J saw endured me through two of these cuts

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The Slab Has Landed


Scary Potential Energy

Here are two photos showing how I got the Roubo bench top mounted on the undercarriage.  The top is salvaged (dry) fir measuring a full 5″ thick by 24 3/4″ by 8′ long.  A quick estimate put that at 200 pounds.  I hooked my winch to the anchor-point in the overhead floor-joists (everyone has one of those, right?) and lifted the top enough to slide the legs under it.  The plan is to not bother pinning the top to the legs.

Once the top was united with the legs I was happy to find that I have to use all my weight to budge the bench just a tiny bit.


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Roubo Undercarriage



1/2″ and 3/4″ pegs (and MDF, ew)

Photos of the undercarriage of the Roubo bench. It’s all oak that I think was salvaged that I found at Siwek Lumber.  The 1/2″ pegs on the short stretchers are blind.  The single 3/4″ pegs on the long stretchers go through.  I used hide-glue and draw-bored everything very slightly.  No clamps needed – just hammer the pegs home and you’re done.  (I forget why I had the two aluminum clamps in the one photo.  Maybe I was using them to test-fit everything.)


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Making Pegs For The Roubo Bench

The undercarriage of the Roubo bench is more like timber framing than woodworking.  It’s just 4 legs, and four stretchers connecting them.  My legs are 3 1/2″ by 5 1/4″ oak.  I needed pegs to draw-bore it all together.  I didn’t want to use dowels from the store as my pegs because they usually have a lot of grain going in the wrong direction.  I didn’t trust them to be able to take the beating I was going to give them.  Making pegs was a good exercise.  I made a nice dowel plate, and made myself pegs that I know have little to no grain runout.

Before you can bash the pegs through the plate you have to get them close in size so I used the drew knife a lot.

So that they didn’t collide I used two 1/2″ pegs for the short stretchers and a single 3/4″ peg for the long stretchers. Only the 3/4″ pegs go all the way through.  I’ll post pictures of those soon.

I was disappointed to find that my Irwin bits didn’t fit the pegs well. They were a bit oversized. So I used brad point bits to drill the holes. That allowed me to drill them with my drill press though which was a good thing.

Making sticks smaller

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Handworks 2017

I was on a roll for a couple months, doing more woodworking than I had in a while.  Then the end of April I accepted a new job at Penguin Computing and I have done no woodworking since.  That is temporary though.  I’m confident that once I get up to speed on the new gig I’ll have more time at home than before.  I’m not there yet though.

There is one exception of woodworking I’ve done recently.  That was that I was able to attend Handworks #3.  I travelled down with the Naked Woodworker and his crew, and helped him set up his booth.  The project Mike was doing in his booth continued with his aim to help people do less wood-watching and more woodworking.  He provided the materials and tools needed, as well as coaching, to help people build their own Moxon vise.  It was a hit, and he ran out of materials early the second day.

Roy Underhill again gave the keynote performance, and here’s a very good video of that.

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Fun With Tenons

Veritas large shoulder plane on the work piece which is on my shooting board

I’ve resumed working on my Roubo workbench, which means timber frame-sized mortise and tenons. I recently sold my rabbet block plane. I bought it hoping it would do double duty as both a block plane and a shoulder plane. It was a good block plane but I didn’t like it at all as a rabbet/shoulder plane.  While working a tenon like in this photo, for example, the low profile makes the plane too hard to hold.  The tall shoulder plane works great in my hands. This plane is on loan from a friend.

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