After a lot of fiddling and fine tuning I can finally announce that we are the proud parents of my first kitchen bench. Joining the 3 benchtop components went better than expected as did levelling them - which I did using Dad's ancient Ryobi electric planer (it was actually made in Japan!). But the most rewarding moment came while oiling the top. It's probably the first time since the timber was milled over 100 years ago that the natural grain is again the star.
Next job - building a shed.