legs on benches

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legs on benches

Postby mrcharly » Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:44 am

SWMBO has made a request for some log 'benches'. As it happens I have some largish willow logs I can use.

Now, the question is 'which configuration of the legs'? I will probably drill or gouge holes into the log (after I've flattened the top).

Last time I did this I drilled 4 round holes, then tapered 4 branches. These were pretty solid when tapped in and any unevenness in leg length was immaterial as the bench went on soft ground anyway.

This time the bench will be on paving.

If I use 4 legs, then inevitably one will shrink more and the bench will rock.

Maybe put a shoulder on the legs and a blind wedge?
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Re: legs on benches

Postby gavin » Mon Apr 08, 2013 3:45 pm

mrcharly wrote:SWMBO has made a request for some log 'benches'. As it happens I have some largish willow logs I can use.

Now, the question is 'which configuration of the legs'? I will probably drill or gouge holes into the log (after I've flattened the top).

Last time I did this I drilled 4 round holes, then tapered 4 branches. These were pretty solid when tapped in and any unevenness in leg length was immaterial as the bench went on soft ground anyway.

This time the bench will be on paving.

If I use 4 legs, then inevitably one will shrink more and the bench will rock.

Maybe put a shoulder on the legs and a blind wedge?

Get a Veritas tenon cutter at least 1" or 1.25" or 1.5" - or borrow one.
Drill corresponding blind holes - else the rain-water will rot and swell your legs from an open-topped through-hole. I don't think willow will last too long, but it burns well enough once it fails.

Be bold and go for 4 legs then trim the legs' lengths to suit your hard standing after tentative ( i.e. not driven home hard) assembly. You may have to trim again later.

If you do go the tapered route, make yourself a tapered reamer ( search Jennie/ John Alexanders postings on this.)
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Re: legs on benches

Postby mrcharly » Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:41 pm

I won't be buying any more tools - will have to use existing tools.

Blind holes then; use wedges in the legs?

I'll probably use sycamore for the legs, as there are branches that need trimming from a convenient tree.
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Re: legs on benches

Postby gavin » Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:10 pm

mrcharly wrote: use wedges in the legs?

No, but do drill and make a template of a hole slightly bigger than the one you'll eventually drill. Smear that hole with charcoal to gain an idea of the slight over-size.

You can whittle some legs with a looser fit as a temporary measure - they will drop out when you move the bench, but they will happen quickly. I'd set your holes at angle of 1:3 i.e. approx 18 degrees.
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Re: legs on benches

Postby SeanHellman » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:34 pm

Make the bench and then cut the legs to length. This is the easiest way.
So the way it is done is by levelling the top of the bench by putting bits of wood under the legs. When the bench is level use a square block of wood with a pencil held flat across the top and scribe around each leg. Cut each leg and behold a totally level bench. This is used in chair making and is the only reasonable to level any 4 legged bench/chair.
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Re: legs on benches

Postby jrccaim » Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:46 am

Great subject, and very good replies. On a bench, or for that matter a horse (which is just a bench) the real problem is boring the holes. The bigger the hole the less trouble you will have. Furthermore once you have started the hole it is difficult to correct the angles. So you have to start out correctly in the first place. Furthermore yet again, The bigger the hole the more effort it requires to bore it. This means augers. With long cross-handles, Now I am unaware of what you might find in the EU. The traditional augers went something like 1" (25 cm) and 1.25 inch, say 31 mm. With luck you might find a 50 mm auger. If your budget is unlimited ignore these parameters. I envy you!

And now the voice of experience. It is no big deal to taper your leg to fit your newly drilled hole. If you made a taper reamer according to Mr Alexander's very clear instructions it is even easier, but aye, here's the rub. A chain breaks at the weakest link. A leg breaks at the thinnest point. All my legs break at the point where they engage the flat part of the bench. Why? Because try as you may you will leave the bench out in nasty weather. Benches not really house furniture, after all. In a word, they rot out. And then you have a lopsided bench! Perhaps England is a much more reasonable climate than Alaska. I am still wondering what to do about this, I have some ideas but I will have to try them out before I commit to a solution.Of course you could redrill the hole and put in a new leg.
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