Okay, the headless nails provide the exact same shear strength that a biscuit or dowel would to keep the top flush even if the glue joint failed over time. What amazed me was why he did not miter the top as it would have been painfully easy to do and would not have required any extra material.
If he had simply cut the front (and center piece) at 45 degrees from the long point (front) back toward the bartender side he would have been two thirds of the way there. Since the material is cheap pine anyway it does not matter which side is up so he could have made one 45 degree cut and created both side pieces (one of them would have to be upside down so the angle was accurate). Or perhaps the piece he leaned against the wall was the cut off for the short side and he still would not have needed any more material than he had. The diagonal cut would have eliminated any end grain from showing in the finished product and would have also eliminated the situation where end grain was glued to side grain.
The diagonal joint would have been longer and required three or more of the cheap and dirty headless nail version of his dowel joint (actually I would use four headless nails so the dead-center where the vertical screw attached the top to the base was clear of any possible horizontal shear pin nails) . It would have been slightly more difficult to line up the nails and to pound the joint tight with the maillot but it would be worth the extra effort. It would also require the use of more bar clamps to get things right. Unless he has a specially configured corner jig (which is unlikely) he should have two (2) bar clamps across the front and two (2) more down each side to get the top tight in both directions. (Either the front two or the side four would have to be placed underneath the material so they could all be in place simultaneously.)
It would make the overall width about three inches narrower, but he could have also eliminated any end grains showing on the base by setting his circular saw to 45 degrees and cutting the 1X4’s on the front pallet right inside the outermost 2X4 rails and making corresponding 45 degree cuts on both side pieces of the base. (The three inside 1X4’s should still be cut square because they will butt into each other and not show but extra measuring and configuring would be required.) Then instead of adding the extra 2X4’s to the backside of the front pallet – just make them the outside rails replacing the ones cut off as described above. The 1X4’s that were the top of the pallets would now come together and make perfect ninety degree corners without any end grain showing anywhere from front or from either side.
I know this might be hard to follow with just a description but it would be super easy to show with just a video camera, three pallets and twelve feet of 2X8 or 2X10 (actually I believe the top might be five-quarter material).
When I was a kid in the sixties most homes here were block exterior with perhaps a few exterior framed walls, but there were some built with frame exterior walls. Those houses used 1X3 or 1X4 S1S2E* to trim around windows and clean up both inside and outside corners. They also used 1X2 S1S2E for shingle mold to trim the top of the fascia which was also the sub fascia so you could not see the sheeting which was mostly solid material in those days, but plywood was coming into use. In any case, every lot on every job had lots of one-by scrap that was just about two feet long. Lots of guys would collect all this scrap and on days when it rained and there was no work they would go home and in their carports or garages make Adirondack chairs out of the scraps. They did need to buy a few pieces of two-by material but I don’t remember where they used it, probably where the back and the seat met. On the weekends they would drive around and sell the chairs to make up for the missed day of work. I do recall they were entirely made using 6d hot galvanized nails which were what they used at work also, so the builders provided all the materials and I think the chairs sold for about fifteen to twenty bucks unpainted, or thirty to thirty five painted. On our block we were pretty cheap so everyone bought them unpainted (perhaps intending to paint them themselves - which NEVER happened) and when you sat in the unpainted ones you always got splinters right through your shirt!
- S1S2E stands for: surface one side and surface two edges. Only the part that faced out was roughsawn and it was always the same thickness and width. I was told later that in the olden days they used real roughsawn wood which was often different widths and different thicknesses and overall miserable to work with.and that it took real skill to make that stuff look good !!