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
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
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.