A torii inspired garden bench

The seat slats, and a guitar neck blank?

I jointed the slats and wanted to clean up the other face and plane the slats to an uniform thickness. And in that process I almost broke a finger! I got a huge kickback from the thickness planer because I did something stupid. I started another board before the one that was in the machine was finished. The result could be a guitar neck blank:

What happened? When the next board reached the outfeed roller, the pressure from the rollers on the previous one dropped. It shot out of the machine like a bat out of hell, smacked one of my fingers really hard before crashing into the wall two-three metres behind me. I changed my pants, put a band-aid on my owie and run the boards through the machine one by one. I learn. (As I am doing the final edit of this article 2.5 months later, I still can feel the injury if I press that area of the finger. I got a doctor to check it, but nothing seems to be wrong – I got lucky!)

I then mounted my router in the Kreg router table I got for free from someone that had finished renovating. Great catch – a Bosch PTS-10 table saw and a router table for free, just an hours drive away. Could not let that one pass, even though I prefer hand tools.

I used a roman ogee bit to create a gradual roundover on the top edges as I don’t have any moulding planes. Hand planing all the slats would’ve been a drag. I did one, then decided that life sometimes is way too short for that sort of thing. Donkey work time!

I then grabbed the smoothing plane and planed all the surfaces to remove any machine marks. I will cut the slats to length once the bench is glued up.

I decided that the front legs looked a bit hefty, and I did not like that they were flush with the side of the armrest. I also wanted to break up the hard edges where the foot will come into contact with the armrest when one sits on either end. I measured where the top of the seat slats meets the leg and drew a shape for a cutout that I liked. A disc of sand paper for my Bosch ROS was used for the roundover. The Spear & Jackson 9500R panel saw then went to town on the legs, ripping down the line in a heartbeat. These are really good saws!

Some chisel work, and the waste was chopped off while simultaneously creating a nice curve. I refined it further with a cabinet maker’s rasp and a file. Rinse, flip and repeat and in 10 minutes I had two identical side frames.

90% of the work on these has been done with hand tools. I use machines for donkey work operations, but I find it much faster to use my hand tools for one-off work like this. If I decide to make another one of this bench, or a few of them, I might take the time to set up power tools for more jobs. The thing is – more often than not, it is way faster to just grab a tool and go than make a jig and a mess…

On the next page, we’ll slather some more gravy around! Or glue.

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