Hand Tools Archive

Subject:
Latta Bench Assembled *PIC*

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
Quartered Wormy Oak Steve Latta Auxiliary Bench

PIC 1

I made the bench in what seemed to me to be the most reasonable way to make it. The legs are dovetailed into the sides and the stretchers are M&T into the legs. I don't understand the I-beam construction Latta advocates. I may add an "apron" across the front to provide a clamping surface. If so I will just screw it on so I can remove it if it gets in the way of my preferred F-style camping of stuff to the surface.

The joinery came up snug. The joints are not glued and won't need to be unless something shrinks and loosens. In this state I can disassemble and alter leg length if needed (see below M&T detail).

I wish I had not used oak. It is miserable to work with hand tools. While it saws fine, I had no problem sawing dovetails, it does not scribe mark and chisel fine. If someone decides to build a bench I would recommend maple. The first socket was too tight and paring to get a good fit was difficult with oak. By the time I sawed the 3rd I was able to judge where to saw relative to the scribe line and the last two joints fit without modification.

I sawed the tails with a Lee Valley saw, 12 point rip. This saw was way too aggressive for oak. The teeth were so grabby that my several hundred pound bench shook while sawing. I used the vintage saw shown (filed by Tom Law cross cut) for socket sawing and it did well. The LN dovetail saw was too dainty for this job.

PIC 2

The picture shows how I positioned the legs perpendicular to the top for dovetail socket marking. Anyone got a better idea? This worked but it seems a bit strange.

PIC 3

Oak pares poorly and I could not chisel the bottom of the sockets smooth. The router plane came to the rescue.

The stretchers are M&T into the legs. The tenon is half the thickness of the stretcher and it is not centered but rather it is at the top surface of the stretcher. If I want to shorten the bench I will just turn the stretcher upside down and reinstall. An inch of leg with stick below the stretcher in this position and can be cut off.

Vise is back ordered

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