Workbench advice needed – legs are twisted

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #122941
    Wesley
    Participant

    Hi all,

    For the pasts few months I have been working on my first workbench. Physical discomforts and other activities (housebreaking our new puppy, for instance) have slowed me down considerably.

    Nevertheless, I finished the laminations before the holiday break and the past few days I have started on the legs. I must say that things really started to “click”: my chisels and plane irons come out sharper than ever, planing square is achieved more quickly and I finally truly understood the lesson “always use your square on the same two reference sides” 🙂

    Today I finished the first pair of legs. The mortise and tenon joints (my first!) are quite tight and actually came out square and everything. However, during glue rehearsal I noticed there is quite some twist in the legs. It seems I forgot to check the top rail for twist. Looking at the photos now I can’t believe how I could have mist that astonishing amount of twist in the first place.

    Anyway, I am considering the following options. Needless to say I don’t look starting over on the legs.

    1) nothing – the twist might be flexed out later
    2) make a new top rail – at my current skill level this will take me 1 to 2 afternoons
    3) untwist the current top rail, leaving the tenons undersized. I could fix that by a) driving a dowel through the loose joints or b) using wedges to tighten the loose joints.

    Your advice would be greatly appreciated, as always.

    Regards,
    Wesley

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Viewing 12 replies - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
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    Replies
  • #122946
    NikonD80
    Participant

    @nikond80

    Hi Wesley,
    Based on what I can see in the photos, I’d be inclined to remake the rail. This will be a bench you’ll use for many years and you’ll always know about that twist. You may also find that the twist will make problems for you further along on the build (I’m thinking about the aprons in particular). Although remaking the part will take a couple of afternoons, when you think that this is a bench for life a couple of afternoons is a small price to pay. Of course, I’m assuming you have sufficient wood left to remake the part.

    Hope this is of help,

    Jon

    Keep Calm and have a Cup of Tea

    #122964
    Alien8
    Participant

    @alien8

    I’d go with Jon

    just redo the twisted rail, you’ve done it before and I’m sure you be amazed how much less time it takes.
    come to think of it : you didn’t glue up the rail assembly already haven’t you ?

    as allways
    have fun !
    Diego

    #122979
    mike forbes
    Participant

    @forbeskm

    Not too much to remake the rail. One of my leg frames had a twist to it as well I didn’t notice until after glue up. I left it. I need a working bench more than a perfect bench so I left mine alone. Mine is put together with the wedges and some carriage bolts so I could redo the leg sometime, but I don’t see that happening. Esthetically is about all it affects, you can level it out if its really off.

    Boulder,CO http://mikeofallthings.com

    #122980
    Mooncabbage
    Member

    @mooncabbage

    At this stage in construction I’d advise remaking the rails. This is assuming the problem is with the rail itself, and not that the mortises are out of square.

    #122982
    Wesley
    Participant

    @weslee

    Thanks all. That is pretty unanimous: redo the rail. Luckily I didn’t glue up yet and I have enough stock to make several more rails. Indeed the bench is going to last me many years, what is a few more days in the grand scheme of things?

    I’ll save the panicking for later, should the mortises turn out to be out of square.

    Wesley

    #122985
    Mooncabbage
    Member

    @mooncabbage

    Weslee, check the mortises before you do the new tenon. If they’re out of square, you could always try widening them up and paring them to square. Then just make a fatter tenon next time.

    #122990
    Wesley
    Participant

    @weslee

    Good tip. Will do!

    #122991
    Mooncabbage
    Member

    @mooncabbage

    It’s always best to chop the mortise first. That way if you take off too much, or make a mistake and need to take off a bit more to fix it, you can always just compensate with the tenon. It’s always easier to take material away than put it back. Also, be careful creeping up on your tenon thickness. My workbench scrap pile contains a number of perfectly dimensioned stretchers with tenons I made too thin. And it’s an amazingly fine line between too thick and far too thin. A good fit should go in with a minimum of effort, and support the weight of the leg if you lift it. I had one oversized tenon I could jam in the leg, but it started to split the top. Too tight is no good either.

    Just a few more tips from the front lines here in workbench city.

    #123082
    Wesley
    Participant

    @weslee

    Ugh.. This is so frustrating..

    I checked if the mortises we twisted. They were slightly so I removed it. Then I made a new rail. Everything fit. A little twist, but significantly less than before. I was happy. I started dreaming about the end of the project.

    This morning I decided to glue up. Glue freeze. Ouch. After 20 minutes of banging ing and clamping I finally gave up. One of the mortises has a permanent gap of about 5 to 6 mm.

    This is seriously messing with my Zen thing, man.

    #123086
    dwaugh
    Participant

    @dwaugh

    I feel your pain weslee! Don’t get discouraged! -David

    #123111
    mike forbes
    Participant

    @forbeskm

    Better to have it freeze on a workbench then a fine dresser or something! Chock it up as a learning experience 🙂 Keep up the good fight and keep going.

    Boulder,CO http://mikeofallthings.com

    #123126
    Mooncabbage
    Member

    @mooncabbage

    On my workbenches the mortises are slightly long, so I have gaps on a few of my joints. Not worth crying about. So long as everything is square and solid, you’re fine. You’ll do better next time.

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