Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dimensioning the end supports

Let's go back to the plans for this project. Shown below is the same sketch shown earlier, except with the bench top and lower shelf missing. What I will be doing next is assembling the end frames. i.e. I will be attaching the short horizontal supports to the legs, generating two leg assemblies. Later, I will attach these assemblies together via the longer horizontal supports. The centre supports will be added in after.
Sketch of the workbench showing the skeletal frame.
Again, before I can do this, I need to cut the lumber to the right size. I began by cutting them roughly to size from the lumber I purchased to get 6 roughly 2' long pieces (I took this opportunity to also cut the centre supports since they will be the same length). Next, I needed to cut a little bit off of one end of each of the pieces, so that I have one square end to measure from. Below, you can see how I first attempted to do this by 'ganging' the pieces together, thus requiring me to cut only once.
This was the 'lazy man's' way of cutting these boards to size. It didn't work.
Unfortunately, this did not result in uniform or square cuts due to the unevenness of the cutting surface, therefore I knew I would have to do them one-by-one. But using the cutting guide on such a small piece of wood is unwieldy, so I created a small jig to assist with this. Below, you can see that I attatched two pieces of wood at a 90 degree angle.
This jig worked much better, and it removes the necessity of measuring where to put the saw guide.
The crosspiece that rests along the length of the wood keeps the 'guide' piece square. The length of this crosspiece (to the right of the guide) is cut off such that it's length matches the distance between the saw blade and the edge of the plate. Thus, as shown below, I can make a straight, square cut. I did this for all 6 pieces.
Easy as pie!
With one end square, I measured the length I needed to cut it. I don't want to use numerical measurements, because they are not always the most accurate. Form the drawing above you can see I want this piece to fit along the end of the top, between two other 2x4's. Shown below is my method of determining the length of wood I need.
Rather than dealing with numerical measurements, I can transfer the cut location directly using the true length.
I clamped two 2x4's to the sides of the bench top, put the square end of the small 2x4 against one of the longer ones, and then put a pencil mark where I need to cut as shown. I made the cut using the same jig as above. Now that I have one piece cut to size, I don't need this setup any more. As shown below, I can simply use the cut piece to determine where to cut on the rest of the pieces.
Now that I have one piece cut to size, marking where to cut on the rest of the pieces is easy!
Next time, I will be assembling the end frame pieces and discussing some of the challenges I faced, and am still facing by not having a very well thought out setup for keeping things aligned.

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