Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cutting that workload down to size

Glued-up legs. Dry glue drips and smears can easily be seen.
With the glue on the table top and legs dry, it is time to cut them to their final size. Beginning with the legs, I noticed that there was quite a bit of glue squeeze-out (shown right), so I thought it prudent to clean up the dry glue first so that the surfaces would be relatively flat. For this job, I took out my random-orbit sander and went to town! Below are a few pictures of this process.

The random-orbit sander makes quick work of this job!
A comparison of the same leg before and after a fairly quick sanding.
As you can see, a fairly short sanding can lead to satisfactory results. I didn't bother with the ends, since I will just be cutting those off anyways.

Cutting the legs down to size.
Before cutting the legs to size, it was necessary to first square-up one end, since the boards aren't aligned very precisely. I do not own a chop-saw or mitre saw, so I will again be using a circular saw. To the left, I show the set-up I used to accomplish this. I clamped the four legs side-by-side and used my saw guide to first cut a small amount from one end. Since the depth of cut is larger than what my saw can handle, I needed to do this from both sides. Below you can see more clearly why this is necessary.

Before and after cutting the legs.

Bench legs cut to their final size.
Once this was done, I was able to measure how high I wanted the legs. Since I want my bench to be about 36" high, and I need to subtract 1-1/2" to account for the top, I should make the legs 34-1/2" long. After measuring and cutting using the same method, I end up with 4 equivalent legs, shown to the right. Because of the method I used, the ends of the legs are not exactly flat, but I think they are close enough for this project. I may need to doctor them up a bit though if I run into problems. In the future, I might try to find a better way to do this.

With the legs done, I moved on to the table top. Again, since it is very difficult to have two pieces aligned, it will always be necessary to trim the edges after a face-to-face glue-up like this, which is why it is a good idea to have your pieces oversized initially. Since I am not required to have an exact set of dimensions, it doesn't matter to me, I will simply trim the edges, and the result will be my final size. I used the same basic methods to accomplish this; some pictures are shown below.
Cutting one edge of the bench top.
Bench top edge: before and after trimming.
This was a pretty exciting step, since it was the first once involving cutting, which I enjoyed greatly. Next time, I will do some more cutting as I make the horizontal supports for the ends of the bench. For your amusement, I will leave you with a picture of the mess (part of it) I made during all of this cutting.
What a mess! Good thing I have a shop vac to clean it up later.

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