The router bench's three-point bench-dog system— two on the vise, one on the bench top—makes securing odd-shaped work pieces a cinch. Well only have to shift this oval tablctop once in order to rout the entire edge. And that shift is as easy as opening and closing the vise. No damps to take off and put back on.

1. Gather the materials, and cut the parts. To get a flat, stable top. I laminated two pieces of birch plywood and banded its edges with thick oak. The top is pretty monolithic. It isn't anchored to a heavy frame that will help it to hold its shape, so a material that's smooth, flat, and stable is essential. Plywood is that material. The oak edge banding provides protection for the edges and corners.

For the legs. feet, and cross-

Scaling Your Bench

At nearly 4 feet high, this bench may be a little too tall for the average woodworker. I made the bench for myself, making it a working height comfortable for me. At 6 feet 2. I'm probably taller than the average woodworker.

Moreover, having your work surface at elbow height improves your view of what you're doing. As compared to work done at standard workbench height, this work is a foot or more closer to your eyes. Widen your stance and flex your knees, and you can just about sight along the bench top. You have an even better view of what the router and its bit arc doing.

What I did, then, when planning the bench, wras measure myself from f(X)t to elbow. 1 used that figure—47 inches—as the finished height of my bench. I'd recommend you do the same.

For me, doing a lot of router work at a typical workbench is a pain in the ne ..., eh, back. I've got to hunch over to see the cut (left), and it simply isn't a comfortable stance. But with the work clamped to my router bench (right), / can stand with my back straight yet still see the action.

My theory is that elbow height is about right for router woodworking. Mold the router at about chest height. You've got your elbows bent, wrists and forearms roughly parallel to the gmund. This is a good control position. You aren't sioop-shouldcrcd or bent at the waist. You can push the router

2 feet or more away from your body without having to bend at the waist. When you bend at the waist, your center of gravity shifts, and you have to work just a little harder to maintain your balance. This litde extra height for router operations can lessen fatigue and increase control.

*M'*4>' FLATVIAD STOVt dimcnwon btrcttl top 16 twhmed to final width dimcnwon btrcttl top 16 twhmed to final width







Number Thickness




Top core pieces





Birch plywood

Edge banding





8/4 oak

Edge tending





8/4 oak






6/4 oak






6/4 oak





6/4 oak

Vise spacers






Vise cauls





6/4 oak


8 pes. V x carriage bolts

with washers and nuts

2 pes. V X 4" stove bolts with

square nuts

3 pes. '/;" X 2" hex-head holts

2 pes. #8 X 2" flathead wood screws

2pes. #8 X l'A"

flathead wood screws

1 Record VI75 vise

braces, 1 used oak. It's heavy and hard, good for a bench that will be used hard in the shop. While attractiveness is appealing, so is economy. I used an economy grade of oak— "skid grade." Fred calls it. The knots and defects in the legs don't enhance the appearance of the bench, but they aren't serious enough to erode the bench's strength.

Choose the materials you want to use. then cut the pans to the sizes specified by the Cutting List. Here are some possible exceptions: • It's a good idea to cut the two elements of the top core and the edge bands a bit oversized and trim them to fit during assembly.

• You may want to allow extra length in the legs, which can be trimmed away after the bottom tenon is cut. (Sec Step 5 on the opposite page.)

• If you are altering the height of the bench, adjust the lengths of the legs and the cross-braces.

gin by gluing the two plywood core elements face-to-facc. Use regular carpenter's glue, and clamp the lamination with hand screws. C-clamps, and/or quick clamps. If your plywood has any bow to it. glue the uiowned faces togedier to cancel out the bow.

While the glue sets, prepare the edge banding. Assuming the stock is surfaced, plow a ^-inch-wide by '/¿-inch-deep groove in each piece. (See the chapter "Dadoing and Grooving" for details on this procedure.) Be sure you cut the groove in the broader face.

After the clamps are off the core, run it through the table saw to square the long edges, reducing the width to about 71/' inches. With the crosscut saw of your choice, do the same for the ends. Form the tongue that fits into the groove in the edge banding by cutting a '/¡-inch-wide by Mt-inch-deep rabbet around the top and bottom edges. (Sec the chapter "Rabbeting" for details on this procedure.) It's a good idea to test cut a short section of the core and Pit a grooved scrap of the banding in place, to ensure that you get a good mechanical fit.

Fit the edge banding in place, piece by piece, marking and cutting it to fit. The corners, of course, arc mitered. Glue and clamp the band ing to the core.

Because the top core is 1 Vi inches thick, and the banding is \V* inches thick, you have to trim the banding flush lo the core surface. I fitted a laminate trimmer with a custom flush-trimming base, chucked a '/¿-inch straight bit in the collet, and trimmed the banding on both the top and bottom surfaces. (See the chapter "Surfacingwith the Router" (or more details.)

Finally, I ripped and crosscut the bench top one last time to mte the edges. I took about V\ inch off each edge, bringing the bench top to its final 9-inch by 73-inch dimensions.

3. Make the feet. Each loot is formed by face-gluing two pieces of oak together. Before the glue-up, cut a 5-inch-wide by Vinnch-deep recess (or lap) across the center of each piece. When the parts are face-glued, these laps will form the through mortises for the leg.

To cut the laps, attach a custom baseplate to your router. (See the chapter "Lap Joints" for details.) It must be about 12 inches wide, wide enough to support the router as you cut the lap. You can minimize setup by clamping the four foot elements edge to edge and cutting them all at the same time. Attach a stop strip at each end of the work to control the width of the cut. (Since you arc working the faces that will be glued together, you can screw the stops in place, rather than clamping them.)

Glue the foot elements together, forming the two feet. Use carpenter's glue, and clamp the feet with hand screws. C-clamps. and/or quick clamps.

After the glue has set and the clamps are oil. lay out the shape of the foot, us shown in the Foot Detail. on each blank, then cut them on the band saw. Sand the cut edges with a belt sander.

4. Make the legs. The legs should he 1. inches shorter than the finished height of the router bench. If you plan to cut the bottom tenon with a hand-held router, you need to allow an extra inch or so of length when you rough out the leg.

The top tenon is Yt inch thick, 6 inches wide, and V> inch long. It can Ix- formed by cutting two rabbets across the top end of the leg. Cut the rabbets Vi inch wide by V* inch deep. Leave the tenon the full width of the leg.

The bottom tenon is '/•» inch thick. 5 inches wide, and 3'/2 inches long. Since the mortise into which this tenon fits is already completed, you should make some test cuts on scraps of the working stock to ensure the tenons will fit.

Cut the tenons on the router table, if you can. (See the chapter "Mortise-and-Tenon Joints" for details on how to do this.) Use a large-diameter straight bit or hinge-mortising bit. Position the fence to control the shoulder cut—when the butt end of the leg is riding the fence, the bit is cutting the shoulder. Cut the shoulder, then slide the leg back and forth, removing the rest of the stock. The '/-»-inch-deep cut is not too much to do in a single pass.

If you must do the tenon with a hand-held router, use the same custom base you did when making the feet. Use the extra leg length to support the base; that is. measure from the leg top to mark the bottom tenon shoulder. Lay out the tenon like a 3'/>inch-widc lap, and leave the excess length at full thickness for thi- base to rest on as you sweep the rojtei back and forth, hogging out the waste.

In either case, use a band saw to trim the tenon to its final width.

Take Vi inch from each side of the tenon, reducing it to the neccssary 5-inch width.

5. Cut the leg mortises in the top. The mortises into which the legs fit arc stopped dadoes—easy to cut with a router. (See the chapter "Dadoing and Grooving" for details on cutting these.) Lay out the cen-tcrlineof the mortises, and mark the ends of the cut very clearly. From thecenterline, mark the position for a guide (the distance equals the radius of your router's base). Clamp the guide to the bench lop, position the router, turn it on, plunge the bit, and make the cut. (With a fixed-base router, drill a hole the size of the bit at one end of the mortise: position the router with the bit in the hole, then switch it on and make the cut.)

To complete die fit. you can either round the ends of the tenon with a file, or square the ends of the mortise with a chisel. I did the latter.

6. Assemble the leg units.

Assembly of the leg units is a simple matter of gluing the leg tenon into the foot mortise. Before you spread any glue, finish sand the pans. If you want to embellish the edges, now is the time. I used a rabbetting bit to cut a shallow rabbet—about Y« inch deep—along the leg and foot edges.

After machining the edges and sanding the parts, glue the legs to the feet.

7. Cut the cross-brace joinery. The cross-braces interlock in a cross-lap joint and join the top and legs in mortisc-and-tcnon joints. They adjoin both the top and legs at 45-dcgree angles- Unless you are duplicating the dimensions of my bench, you'll have to calculate the length of the braces using the I^ihag-gorcan theorem, which you learned in high school math class. (Okay, so you forgot. Cheek "Shop Math" at right.)

Cut 45-degrec miters on each end of the braccs. With a rabbeting bit, form the tenons on each end by cutting Va-inch-wide by 'A-inch-deep rabbets across each face. On the band saw, trim the width of the tenon to Wi inches, as shown in the Cross-Brace Tenon Detail.

With the tenons cut, lay out and cut the mortises next. Test fit the legs and bench top; I set the legs on edge across a workbench, then "hung" the bench top on the tenons. Square the legs to the top. Label each tenon on the braccs. Set one brace in position against the edges of the top and leg. Scribe along the tenon edges; then, with a square, extend the lines across the inside of the leg and the underside of the top. These lines delineate the ends of the mortises; since you want them centered on the picces, it is easy to lay out the sides. Label each mortise for the tenon it is to take.

Repeat the proccss to lay out (and label) the mortises for the second brace. Set both braces in position, lining them up—as well as possible—with the marks on the edges of the legs and top. Now scribe along each brace onto the other. This is where you need to lap them together.

The mortises can be cut in the same way you did those for the legs. The laps can be cut as you did previous laps.

8. Assemble the bench. Assuming you want no be able to disassemble the bench for storage or transport, you don't want to glue the joints

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The Complete Guide To Wood Finishing

The Complete Guide To Wood Finishing

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