This bench has all the classic features but modern techniques make building it a snap

Woodworking shops have changed a lot over the years. But one shop fixture is just as essential today as it was a hundred years ago. A solid workbench is still the hub around which all shop activity revolves. I would have to say it's the most indispensable "tool" in my shop.

A good workbench has three attributes. First it's sturdy enough to take a pounding, literally. Second, the top provides enough worksurface to accommodate all the tools and materials needed for the job at hand. And finally, securing a workpiece on the bench is quick, easy, and foolproof.

This workbench passes this test and then some. To call it sturdy is a bit of an understatement. The massive mortise and tenon frame forms an extremely rigid foundation. The laminated top is a woodworker's dream—large, very solid, and with plenty of clamping options. The large front vise or the tail vise, both with opposing dog holes, will handle any job.

But don't take this to mean that building this workbench will be a big chore. Without cutting any corners, we simplified the construction to minimize the hard work and maximize the return.

A The large front vise can be paired up with bench dogs to secure a workpiece. A handy tail vise adds extra clamping options.

Woodsmith

Rigid Vise Caps

^ Glued-up stretchers simplify cutting joinery

Jaw block

Support collar

NOTE: See Sources on page 51 for more on bench hardware

Vise carriage

Splined end caps keep - top flat

Front vise

Top support — spacers

~~— Shelf rests on rails attached to stretchersr^s

Draw bolt key

Tail vise works with dog holes and bench dogs to secure workpiece qIiIüi

TOP VIEW

Tail vise built into top. Refer to page 30 for more

Heavy-duty vise screw

OVERALL DIMENSIONS: 84"Wx 39"D x 34V2"H (Includes vises)

Multiple dog holes provide a variety o f clamping options

Heavy duty benchtop laminated from solid edge-grain hardwood

Lag screw - fastening cap allows seasonal movement of top

Sturdy end frames joined with through mortise ana tenons

Support arm

Shelf — end cap hides end grain

Stout laminated legs make for a sturdy bench

^ Glued-up stretchers simplify cutting joinery

Draw bolts rigidly connect stretchers to end frame

NOTE: Bench can be disassembled for easy movement

Shelf between lower stretchers provides storage

Jaw block

NOTE: Bench can be built with optional MDF and hardboard top, see page 27 for details

Support collar

Through mortises in feet and support arms are cut before halves are glued together

NOTE: See Sources on page 51 for more on bench hardware

Vise carriage

NOTE: Cut tenons after gluing up leg blanks

NOTE: Cut tenons after gluing up leg blanks

Vs" chamfer on long edges

NOTE: Cut mortises and drill bolt holes before assembling leg frames

Vs" chamfer on long edges

Notches for mortises cut before foot is glued up

SIDE SECTION VIEW

Vi'-dia. hole with V-dia. counterbore

SIDE SECTION VIEW

Vi'-dia. hole with V-dia. counterbore

NOTE: Cut mortises and drill bolt holes before assembling leg frames

Vs" chamfer on all edges of feet

Notches for mortises cut before foot is glued up

NOTE:

Legs are glued up from 2 pieces of V/2"-thick hardwood ft/orf; Feet and support arms are glued up from two pieces of 13A"-thick hardwood

Vs" chamfer on all edges of feet

NOTE:

Legs are glued up from 2 pieces of V/2"-thick hardwood b.

FRONT SECTION

3/s"-dia. hole with V-dia. x %" deep counter-bore

3/s"-dia. hole with V-dia. x %" deep counter-bore

CROSS SECTION

26Va m

ft/orf; Feet and support arms are glued up from two pieces of 13A"-thick hardwood building the BASE

I started on the bench by building the sturdy base. This begins as a pair of end frames that will then be connected with two stretchers.

A QUICK LOOK. The end frames are very similar but not quite identical.

A Cutouts in the feet add stability to the base. You'll find an easy way to do the job on page 32.

However, the construction is the same. Each assembly consists of two stout legs that are tenoned into a long, heavy foot at the bottom and a support arm at the top. (A longer support arm braces the benchtop under the front vise.)

FEET AND SUPPORT ARMS. I like to cut my mortises first, then fit the tenons to them. So I started with the feet and support arms that are mortised to hold the leg tenons.

Both parts are glued up from two pieces of l3/4"-thick stock. But rather than glue up the blanks and then have to drill and chop the through mortises, I used a simple technique to "pre-cut" the mortises.

MORTISES. You start by cutting the two pieces for each blank to finished length and width. Then I used a dado blade on the table saw to cut wide notches (dadoes) in each piece corresponding to half of the mortise. When the two halves are glued together, you'll have a completed through mortise. The box at the bottom of the opposite page shows how to cut accurately sized and aligned notches. Note: You'll have to readjust the rip fence before cutting the front dadoes on the long support arm.

WAXED BLOCKS. Once the notches are cut, the two halves can be glued together. The challenge here is to keep the notches aligned until the glue dries. To do this, I inserted snug-fitting, waxed blocks in the mortises. Then all I had to do was make certain the top and bottom edges stayed flush.

SHAPING. When the clamps come off, you'll need to do a little shaping to complete these parts. First, each foot has a center cutout on the bottom edge to provide a more stable "footing" (photo at left). If you turn to page 32, you'll find some help in the form of a simple, step-by-step technique.

Next, the long support arm needs a notch cut into one end (detail 'a'). This provides clearance for the front vise hardware. A dado blade on the table saw will handle the job.

Finally, a bevel on each end, a pair of bolt holes for fastening down the top, and a chamfer on the outside edges completes the arms.

LEGS. The legs are up next. Here, you can simply start by gluing up four blanks and cutting them to width and length. Just note that the legs are glued up from two pieces of l1^"-thick stock.

TENONS. Now you have more work for the dado blade. The ends of the legs need tenons to fit the mortises in the feet and arms. The tenons are all the same thickness and width, but those at the tops of the legs are shorter than those at the bottom. And to prevent the tenons from ever protruding, I stopped them a bit short of the ends of the mortises (detail 'c/ opposite).

ADVANCE WORK. Before gluing up the frames, you have one more chore to complete. The stretchers are joined to the legs using draw bolts for strength and a shallow mortise and tenon to help with alignment. So each leg needs a

Attach spacer

LONG MOUNTING SPACER

Attach spacer

Pdl Shallow Mounting Block Spacer

LONG MOUNTING SPACER

Complete bolt hole through spacer block

Complete bolt hole through spacer block mortise and a counterbored bolt hole, as in detail Tb,' opposite.

I made the mortises by drilling out the waste, then squaring them up with a chisel. The drill press will handle the bolt holes.

ASSEMBLY. After chamfering the long edges of the legs, you can get out the glue and clamps. The key here is to make certain the joints are tight and everything is square.

b. „

2

f—5% —^

V-dia. x

SIDE

X

Vi'-dia.s thru hole

Vi" deep counterbore

SECTION VIEW

J

SPACER BLOCKS. After one more addition to the end frames, you can move on. The top of each frame needs a spacer block to provide support to the center of the bench-top. These are simply cut to size, beveled, and screwed in place, as shown above. But before installing them permanently, I located and extended the holes for attaching the top through the two spacers.

How-To: Mortise and Tenon

The key to accurately sizing and aligning the notches that form the mortises is to use the rip fence along with a spacer to guide the cuts (photo at right). The spacer is positioned in front of the blade to allow you to reference both shoulders of the notch with one setup

(left drawings below). The spacer I cut (1%" wide) was sized to work with a %"-wide dado blade.

TENONS. The four-shoulder tenons on the legs can be cut using a wide dado blade. For a more in-depth discussion of this technique, see the article on page 38.

CROSS SECTION

Cut outside shoulder using END spacer for reference VIEW

Auxiliary fence

4Vt m dado 1 blade 1

Cut inside shoulder of notch CROSS using fence for reference

SECTION

Nibble away (A) waste

Cut inside shoulder of notch CROSS using fence for reference

SECTION

Nibble away (A) waste

Wide Notches. For the outside cut, the spacer is used to position the workpiece (top). The inside cut is made with the workpiece snug to the rip fence (bottom).

FIRST: Cut cheeks

CROSS SECTION

Make first cheek cut at shoulder

SECOND: Cut edges r

Make first cut at end

Make final cut at shoulder using fence as reference

NOTE: Readjust blade height for these cuts ®

CROSS SECTION

Wide Notches. For the outside cut, the spacer is used to position the workpiece (top). The inside cut is made with the workpiece snug to the rip fence (bottom).

Leg Tenons. Use a wide dado blade to cut the tenons on the legs. First cut the cheeks and long shoulders (top), then the edges and short shoulders (bottom).

Stub Tenons And Bolts

NOTE:

Stub tenons cut after stretchers are glued up chamfer on long edges

57V2" (shoulder to shoulder)

Dadoes near ends of stretcher pieces form slots

SIDE

SECTION

VIEW

overall length.

NOTE: Bolt pulls stretcher tight into leg

STRETCHER

chamfer on both ends of key

STRETCHER KEY

NOTE: Cut dadoes and grooves before gluing up stretchers

Grooves form— bolt holes

NOTE:

^ Notch

STRETCHER KEY

(SV2* long) ,.r installed through the leg, stretcher, and key and theaded into the nut, everything is pulled tightly together. A mortise and stub tenon

DETAILS. Now there are just a couple of minor details to take care of.

Tightening the draw bolt pulls the stretcher snugly against the leg to create a rigid connection.

Now you can start work on connecting the end frames with a pair of sturdy stretchers. The joinery you'll use to do this is the really interesting feature here.

DRAW BOLT JOINERY. The stretchers are fastened between the legs using drawbolt joinery. Take a look at detail 'a' above and I'll add a brief explanation. The stretcher has a vertical slot or through mortise near each end that captures a hardwood key. The key is slotted to hold a hex nut. When a bolt is helps keep the joint aligned.

THE JOINERY. To simplify making this joinery, each stretcher is glued up from two 3/4"-thick pieces of stock. This lets you create the slots for the keys with the same technique used to make the mortises on the end frames.

The box at the bottom of the opposite page takes you through the joinery steps. After cutting the stretcher pieces to length and width, you'll cut the dadoes that form the mortises (detail 'b'). Next you'll need to cut a narrow groove down the center of each piece (detail 'c'). This is just an easy way to create the "bolt holes" in the stretchers. And at this point, I glued the two halves together, using waxed spacers in the slots for alignment.

After removing the clamps, you can cut the short tenons on the ends of the stretchers at the table saw, as shown at right. I used some outboard support to help with this.

First, I made a decorative cutout on the lower edge of each stretcher. (See Shop Notebook on page 32.) Once this is done, a chamfer on all the long edges is the last chore.

THE KEYS. Before assembling the base, you'll need to make keys to fit the slots in the stretchers. The keys should be sized to fit snugly in the mortises. The chamfered ends of the keys stand 14" proud of the stretchers at the top and bottom. To complete each key, I cut a centered notch across one narrow face, then drilled a bolt hole through the notch. A look at detail 'd' above will give you the details.

ASSEMBLY. Finally, you can pull the pieces together. First I inserted a "nutted" key in each mortise. Then before trying to assemble anything, I inserted a bolt into the ^^ end of the stretcher to test the posi- I

tion of the nut. When everything checked out, I bolted the stretchers between the two end frames.

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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