|4 crude benches being tested by my assistants.|
First, I sawed the log into a couple of sections 4 or 5 feet long. I used a beefy Japanese-style crosscut saw made by vaughan for this. My arm was tired by the end, but it allowed me to cut it right on the ground, which was good since I couldn't lift the limb.
|I think it's called a "golok machete". I like it because of the heavy weight balance. It is an amazingly useful tool, and has more or less replaced my little hatchet for yard-work.|
I found a natural split starting and followed it by pounding my machete into the end of the log. Mostly because my froe is [intentionally] much too dull for the task.
|started to follow the split with an iron wedge|
The machete came right out, so I jammed the froe in the end as a placeholder.
|My favorite tool, the humble but versatile shim.|
Now comes the fun part, because at this point some would say I'm out of wedges. Rather than try to use the head of my axe, I used ordinary wooden shims, like what you might use to level your dresser. I use them in pairs so that they're stronger, and thick enough to do the job.
|Skinning bark with the machete. Essentially hewing.|
|Iron wedge finding a second purchase.|
|...second purchase found.|
Once free, I look for a spot where the iron wedge will do the most good. At this point I'm just playing wedge-leapfrog.
|I hear cracking while pounding shims. I guess I was gently tapping them with the back of this axe.|
The second time I use the shims, I find a spot where I can pound them home and I hear cracking several times as I'm doing it. So, they're more than just a bookmark.
|The iron wedge in what is to be it's final position|
By the third time I position the iron wedge, the log looks almost ready to go.
A few over-the-head, full-power swings of the maul later, and I get what I was waiting for.
|The froe finally gets in on the action.|
The log busts open. There are still some fibers connecting the halves, so I used the froe to lever them apart.
|Four proto-benches, shown with tools used.|
|This is where I found the shims.|
I thought about propping the bench seats up on some notched log half-rounds, but quickly decided to just make legs out of a hefty dowel. I purchased 6 1-1/2" poplar dowels in 4' lengths from the local big-box and retrieved my 1-1/2"auger bit and brace.
|This is as far as I got using the brace.|
Boring holes turned out to be a real challenge. My brace just didn't have a large enough swing to generate the requisite torque. I was repositioning my arm 3 times for every revolution. I gave up on that after about 1 inch.
|Looks weird, doesn't it?|
Since the auger bit has a hexagonal shank, my next idea was a socket wrench. It actually worked pretty well! It solved the problem of repositioning my arm, but it still had a hard time delivering enough torque.
|Even this approach got tiring.|
At this point I broke down and got my power drill. Last time I used it with an auger it was a little hard to control, but I figured I was out of options. Turns out, all it could do was hum and make ozone--not enough torque.
|Electricity didn't solve the problem.|
So I found an old vacuum cleaner pipe and slid it over the socket wrench handle.
|Physics to the rescue!|
|Isn't there a saying about the right tool for the job?|
I made 4 benches in an afternoon. That doesn't happen often. These sort of rough building techniques a fun change of pace from the exacting practices necessary to make guitars. The results have their own crude charm (I think), and it's satisfying to get big things done quickly. I'll be doing this sort of work again, and also bringing some of these tools into the workshop more often.