Many of the design concepts for this bench were borrowed from Paul Sellers’ English bench as laid out in his video series (which is free and I highly recommend). One of the most brilliant details was his idea to create tapered housing dados in the aprons where the legs of the base are fitted. The taper allows a wedge to be driven adjacent to the leg which keeps the assembly solid, even as the legs move a bit with seasonal moisture changes. If the legs shrink, the wedges simply drop down a bit further into the housing.
Paul’s video on the dado cutting portion of the job is 25 minutes long, in real life the task took much longer. Unfortunately for me I had exceptionally wide legs-which would mean exceptionally wide recesses in my equally broad aprons. In short, I had my work cut out for me.
I could set up a router; make a jig and cut each one with surgical accuracy. But the inspiration for the design having come from a prominent hand tool woodworker the router didn’t seem in keeping with the spirit of the design. Instead I laid out and cut the recesses by hand, just as Paul did, except mine took quite a bit longer than 25 minutes. They came out clean and of even depth all the same, and I finally got to make use of the vintage Stanley router plane I’d picked up at a hand tool swap meet.
I then cut the matching recesses in the legs, glued up the leg assemblies, and made the wedges. Lifting the aprons into place and fitting them to the legs; driving the wedges home and feeling the strength of the assembly was as satisfying a task as any.
Couldn’t find anyone to swing by the shop and help lift the bench tops into place (which must weigh as much as I do), so in a combined feet of strength and engineering I managed them into position solo. My back is a little sore but the bench is nearly done.