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Old 12-26-2009, 12:10 AM   #376
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Gulf Island Building.


When the bench top is started, you will note that it is way more complex than first meets the eye.
I put lots of biscuits in mine, and that in itself took some considerable time.
Then there are the mortises for the legs, plus all the cutouts where your dogs can go.
The easiest way to mark the leg mortises is to place the inverted leg on the underside of the benchtop and just mark it out. The overall length of the base is 66" - this I did not shorten from the original. So, with a bench length of about 7', or 84", there would be around a 9" overhang on each end.
Because the bench top, legs, stretchers etc. are all thicknessed to the same 1 1/4", it is a simple matter to locate the mortises accurately, like so...
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:14 AM   #377
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Gulf Island Building.


Please note that at this point, the bench top pieces are NOT yet glued up. It is absolutely mandatory to make sure you have everything so well marked that if any one board were to disappear, you would have no trouble putting it in its' rightful home upon its' return.
These "XXX"s are where the leg mortise will be chopped out.
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:20 AM   #378
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Gulf Island Building.


The vise hardware going on the right hand end of the bench is of the twin variety. When using offset clamping pressure on such a vise, the twin screws will keep the jaws quite parallel.
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:22 AM   #379
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Gulf Island Building.


The parallel mechanism works via a chain drive between the two vise screws. Here is the gear which drives the connecting chain.
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:25 AM   #380
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Gulf Island Building.


I wasn't quite sure what to use for the vise jaws, as the spruce being used for the bench top definitely wouldn't cut the mustard.
A friend of mine happened to have a rather nice piece of 2" thick arbutus stock which he kindly donated to the project.
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:28 AM   #381
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Gulf Island Building.


Yes, that's a full size framing square laying there above. That chunk started out 17" wide and just over 2" thick.
I needed to have stock for a skirt on the end of the bench, plus the two jaws.
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:32 AM   #382
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Gulf Island Building.


I'm definitely a believer in dry clamping stuff before the real action takes place, as it helps to avoid nasty surprises. Things like running out of clamps. Or you have one piece facing the wrong way - handy if it happens to be pre-mortised or something like that. However, I don't add the biscuits when I do that, as it can be quite a pain to get things apart afterwards.
So here we are part way through the first section of bench top, which will be done in three pieces to make it manageable.
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:35 AM   #383
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Gulf Island Building.


There's one thing which you might notice after cutting the biscuit holes. Sometimes a little "feather" will appear at one end of the cut. Take a second to remove this. An easy way is to use a slicing motion across the feather with a sharp chisel. Gone.
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:39 AM   #384
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Gulf Island Building.


When installing the biscuits, you need to make sure that there is enough glue in the holes. The glue is what swells the biscuits, making the joint very tight. You might see that when you push the biscuit in that a small bump of glue rises from each end of the hole. You can be pretty sure you have sufficient when that happens.
I tried to get a pic of that, but by the time I grabbed the camera, the bumps had almost flattened themselves out.
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:43 AM   #385
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The glue used in this process was Titebond, which has a very high initial tack and a tendency to set up pretty quickly.
In other words, you don't have any time to diddle around and chat with Aunt Martha once you get going.
As each board was pushed onto its' mate, I gave it many whacks with a dead blow hammer. This was to set the boards down tightly to each other as well as make certain the biscuits didn't cause any trouble. This first section was OK.
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:45 AM   #386
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Gulf Island Building.


Each of the three sections of the top had a row of dog holes pre-machined. Here you can more clearly see the first ones.
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:47 AM   #387
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Gulf Island Building.


In order to keep the ends of the top sections as flat as possible, I added a couple of cauls - separated with 6 mil poly so as not to become a part of the top - to aid in that endeavour.
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:48 AM   #388
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Gulf Island Building.


...and this is a better view from the side.
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:50 AM   #389
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Gulf Island Building.


Once the glue was set up (I let it sit overnight) the clamps are removed and you can see the various and sundry markings on the wood, the dog holes and leg mortises.
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Old 12-26-2009, 12:55 AM   #390
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Gulf Island Building.


I should probably have explained that there are several ways to cut the dog holes. One could use a router, but I find them to be obnoxiously noisy, somewhat violent and occasionally unpredictable. In the event of a loose bit - and don't think it doesn't happen - you can easily be in deep kaka.
You could use a hand saw and chisel, a somewhat traditional approach to be sure.
I opted to make up a guide for my small precision saw which is equipped with a small carbide tipped blade.
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