Workbench Day 16: Winding sticks and cutting rail tenons.

I had some time this morning with kids out playing with chalk in the driveway to make some winding sticks for when I level the top (hopefully this week!).  I had some 1×2 dimensional poplar left over from a project that was never used (8 feet of it sitting in the garage taunting me to make something out it).  So I found the two ends were the straightest and cut 2′ off each end.Then I used a chisel to bevel the edges slightly.

Preparing to make the slice…


Nice bevel and nice mirror polish to the chisel! Woohoo!

I tried to figure out a creative way to clamp them to the bench so I could use the hand plane to flatten them identically, but it proved to be too challenging watching the kids.

I think it will work, I just need to be able to focus.

I had to constantly keep an eye on the boards to keep the whole thing from falling off the edge of the bench top.  When I got distracted by making sure my daughter didn’t eat some chalk, it fell off the bench with some suppressed cussing.  Once I get the leg vise built, this will be no problem.  Until then I will just get them as flat as possible and wing it!

Here they are, as flat as I can get them without a vise to hold them. I think they are pretty darn close to being comlpetely flat and will have to do when I level the top. Perhaps I’ll tune them up before I finish leveling the top to make sure everything is nice to start.

Of course, I still need to figure out a way to get some dark color on one of the sticks to give me some reference when I’m sighting down them.  I was thinking an inlay or…maybe a magic marker.  We’ll see what I come up with.  I have at least a few days before I will attach the top so I’ve got time to ponder this little side problem.

For the main event today, I needed to cut the last tenons for this project on the rails that will support the top.  This was brutal because the wood I had leftover and was planning to use was full of knots (which was why I cut them off in the first place).  So…I tried to cut the tenons just like I did all the others, to no avail.  The knots were throwing my saw blade all over the place.  So I resorted to using a chisel and hacking them out.  Surprisingly enough, the ends (the only part you will see on the completed bench) look fine.  The rest of the tenons…well, there’s no pictures for a reason.  They are structurally sound, but ugly.  Good thing all the ugliness will be hidden inside the leg posts.

Next, following Ian Kirby’s design in the Landis book, I measured the first leg for bridle joints.  And that’s when my daughter woke up screaming from her nap.  She got her little foot caught in the rails of her crib and nap time and shop time were over for the day!

That was all I could get accomplished today, and I’m glad I have gotten this far, because we received word today the Sky Fort cometh!  This morning we were told delivery would be Wednesday, but then we got a call a little while ago that informed us the delivery will be next Tuesday (the only day of the week a semi-truck with a lift gate is available in our area…wow this is serious!).  So.  I have a set deadline.  The bench must be assembled by next Monday.



About Steven M. Vaught

A native son of Delaware, now living in Illinois, Steven is a writer, family historian, amateur astronomer, sometimes-gardener, woodworker, father to three wonderful children, husband to a wonderful wife, and caretaker of one cheeky vizsla.
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2 Responses to Workbench Day 16: Winding sticks and cutting rail tenons.

  1. David says:

    This pair, just go with the marker. Once you have a long jointer and a bench, you can make some pretty ones. Without finish and from semi-wet wood, they won’t stay straight long term most likely.

    That chisel is looking like a real chisel.

    • That sounds like a plan…I’ll my own jointer plane and then make some nice winding sticks…maybe bigger or smaller out of something exotic (for me that could be oak or walnut!).

      Thanks about the chisel! I am enjoying the sharpness and loooove how the poplar sliced so nice!

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