With the stretchers complete, I turned my attention to the half-lap joints that connect the base to the top. The top of the sawbench is made from two separate boards spaced apart to allow for a ripping notch. I wanted to use hardwood for the top of the sawbench since it will have to withstand a fair amount of abuse, so I dug out an old off-cut of sappy cherry. After I milled down the two top boards, I was able to set my marking gauge off of them, layout the half lap joinery on the top of the legs, and cut the joints using the same methods I outlined in my previous post.
At this point, I had a decision to make. My brain was in full-on joinery mode and I wanted to charge ahead and cut the corresponding notches on the top boards to complete the leg-to-top half laps. The spacing on those notches was critical, however, because there’s no slop in the joints. If I didn’t have the stretchers dry-fit perfectly when I laid out and cut the notches in the top boards, I’d be sunk after I glued up the base. So, I decided to take a step back and glue up the stretchers and legs to lock in that spacing. I ran my smoothing plane over all the parts before the glue-up, which wasn’t nearly as fun as it looks in the picture. The construction grade lumber that I used for the base was filled with knots, which turned a simple task into a frustrating one. There’s some tear-out on the legs, but this is just a sawbench, so I reached a point where the surfaces were good enough. I glued up the stretchers and legs and was ready to confidently lay out and cut the notches on the top boards.
Finishing up the top boards was straightforward: I cut the birds mouth and smoothed out the cuts with a block plane. Planing that end grain was a pleasure after working with the construction-grade stock earlier. Finally, I cleaned up both boards with my smoothing plane.
I completed the assembly of the base by attaching the trestle sub-assemblies together with two short rails. These rails have half laps cut into their ends, but I didn’t cut mating notches in the legs to avoid weakening the attachment point for the top boards. I also decided not to glue these two rails on; they are attached with screws only. This makes iteasier to partially disassemble the bench if repairs are ever needed. Honestly, though, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever need to do that. Time will tell if that was a good decision or not. In the third and final installment of this build series, I’ll attach the top, peg all the joints, flush up all the mating surfaces, and apply a finish!