Selecting and Cutting Stock for Potting Bench Build
I’ll start by cutting all the main parts to length. A large miter saw is not necessarily required for this build. You could get away with a circular saw and speed square and do just fine.
I’ll be using full dimension, rough sawn lumber from trees felled and milled on our property. I have plans available for download here. These plans use nominal lumber sizes like what you will find in any big box hardware store or building center.
I take the time to pick the best materials possible. If I have a 4×4 with a noticeable bow then I may set that one aside or use it for a beam instead of a post or bench leg.
All five legs of the bench have dados to accept the top and bottom rails. This will make a stronger joint and transfer the support of the concrete top from the rails to the legs better, without straining the screws at the joint. And, I just think it looks better.
I gang the legs together with pipe clamps so I can make these cuts over several legs at once. It’s a matter of cutting a series of thin slices then breaking them off. Then cleaning up these small broken edges with a sharp chisel.
Cutting Thin Sections
There’s something very satisfying about making these dados. And it’s very easy to do in this soft red cedar. Setting the depth of the blade is really the only thing that’s fussy about it. And if your dado section has a knot then I’d make a few more cuts closer together. But even then a sharp chisel should shave that off quite well.
I will be cutting a quarter ellipse profile on the ends of the rafters and the beams. I printed the page from the plan with a full scale profile that I will cut out and use as a pattern.
Pattern for End Profiles
I have the five 2×4 rafters cut to length and I’ll copy the profile on each end.