Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Project Update: Mortises and Stretchers

After speaking with Random Roger Green about what type and size of wood to use for the bench shelf stretchers (these are simply the pieces of wood that run the length and width of the bench that hold the lower hand plane shelves), I decided to hold off on cutting the mortises for them into the legs. And it's a good thing I did. The best piece of alder I could find was at Shur-Way Building Center here in Vancouver; it was a plank that was dimensioned as "8/4" (2" with some planed/sanded off) and roughly sanded. It was about 11 inches wide and 10 feet long, so I had them cut it into 6 1/2' and 3 1/2' pieces for transport home.

Given that the planks were rough-sanded and just under 1 7/8" in thickness, I decided I'd plane and sand them down to 1 3/4" thickness with the tenons being 3/4". This meant I needed to once again redraw the mortise lines into the legs. Fortunately, this is the last time I'll need to mess with that.

As I ran the alder plank through my little 12" lunchbox planer, chips began blowing out everywhere. What a mess. It's bad enough I don't have a connector to my dust collector on it and I have to duct tape it to my shop vac. That was it. I'd been noticing lines in my planed woods from a nick in one of the blades and this was the last straw. I took the thing apart to see what I could do with the clog and blades.

It turned out I should have done this, oh, a couple of years ago. What a mess. Wood chips and fragments were lodged in the blades and the dust exit was completely clogged with stringy wood. I don't even know what kind of wood it was, but it prevented the planer from blowing the chips into the shop vac. Once I got it cleared, I turned my attention to the handle that had broken off the last time I used it. Fortunately, I had one laying around that fit perfectly.

When I reassembled the planer, I discovered the blades could be flipped around to reveal complementary, unused, razor-sharp edges. This was a huge relief for me because this little planer has been the hardest working tool in my shop (besides me) and I didn't want to junk it just yet.

Once I get the stretcher planks planed down tonight, I'll cut them to size and tenon each end of them using a nifty, old table saw tenoning jig loaned to me by Random Roger Green.

I just cannot imagine how this project would have gone without Random's help, insight, and encouragement. Thank you again, Roger!

Until next time...


  1. Dr. D,
    Glad to see the progress.
    The Alder looks great for the stretchers.
    Random ROG
    PS: I'm happy to help you.

  2. Couldn't do it without you, my man.

  3. Ha! Ha! You called yourself a tool! Ha! Ha!. Sorry,every now and then I get this Bevis and Butthead thing going on. Hope to see you Saturday. Matt

    1. Yes, I'm a tool. And, yes, I'll be there Saturday, but later.