Yankee Drills

Bit Braces


Working with Hands - James E. Price

  Project on Short Notice  

I do all sorts of unplugged woodworking and am prepared to make an object on short notice because I have a stash of seasoned wood on hand.


It is the way I was raised here in the Ozarks. My kin had nooks and crannies in their outbuildings poked full of good wood of lots of different species and it was well seasoned. I continue that practice.

Today I was called upon to make a little bench that will serve as a sawhorse for coffin making at Cumberland Gap in April. It has to be appropriate for circa 1800 and look like it was made on the frontier.

A piece of a split cedar log was selected and adzed into a plank. For the top surface I further evened it with an old scrub plane. I keep a stack of tapered legs for chairs, stools, and benches.

The ones I used today were split out of red oak two years ago and shaped into tapered octagons with a hewing hatchet and drawknife. Those kinds of legs were the type used by German settlers in Pennsylvania and copied by the Scots-Irish during their migration westward after The Revolutionary War.

All I had to do is cut a dowel on the end of each leg and auger four holes in the cedar plank to accept them. The legs are held in place with dowels that pin them to the cedar plank. It took about five hours to make this little bench.

Behind it is a much bigger bench that I made in 2006 out of a piece of a big yellow pine log that I shaped, after splitting out a big chunk, with a broadaxe and adze. The legs were made out of billets of split red oak. We have used that bench often and use it to sit on in the shop.

Sometimes it is used to support a wash tub at our Ozark cultural events and more than one banjo picker has used it for a seat while playing. We'll be using it as the other sawhorse at The Gap so I made the cedar bench today the same height.


James E. Price
July, 2017


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