Building my Workbench #11: Still Plugging Along

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Blog entry by HokieKen posted 07-05-2017 01:09 PM 2161 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: Home Stretch Baby! Part 11 of Building my Workbench series Part 12: Leg Vise »

Well, it’s been a bit and most of my shop time the past several weeks has been spent working on Father’s Day gifts and my contribution to the current LumberJocks Tool Swap. Those are both wrapped up and out of the house though and I had a long weekend with some pretty good shop time so I got quite a bit done. In fact… I AM ALMOST DONE!

First thing I did since the last entry was to finish up all the M&T joints for the long stretchers. Here is the final dry-fit of the whole big beautiful baby :-)

After getting this far, I was so excited to get it flipped over that I almost neglected to cut the through mortise for the parallel guide for my leg vise. Thankfully I thought about it and hogged out the waste on the drill press and cleaned it up with a chisel before I got too far. I could have chopped it out after the bench was assembled but it would have been a MUCH bigger PITA. As luck would have it, I got some blowout on the front side of the mortise ;-( No biggie though, the chop will hide it most of the time and it’s not enough to affect function.

After that, I thought the best way to go about it would be to drawbore the short stretchers into the legs while it was assembled dry and leave the long stretchers free. This way I have 2 independent leg assemblies which will make it easier to take everything apart and re-assemble it right side up.

I had decided I definitely wanted my drawbore pegs to have good contrast with the oak. I was going to use a stick of Ironwood I have squirreled away but I’ve never worked with it and I was afraid it would be too brittle. So instead, I chose a chunk of Purpleheart that was the right length and that should provide all of the pegs I need. I sawed it into several blanks just over 1/2” square and turned the pegs on the lathe.

This was the first time I’ve used drawbored joints and I was surprised at how firmly it really locks the joints down! I have no glue in there at all and I don’t have any fear of the joints being able to rack or twist at all. I was also pleasantly surprised at how well the pegs drove home. I had one that exploded but it was already driven in far enough that the joint was firmly locked down so hurray!

I’m very pleased with how the Purpleheart pegs look in the oak too. I’m not taking any precautions against UV so it won’t stay purple long but even the dark brown that it goes to when exposed to light will still be visually pleasing in the oak. I left them all slightly proud and I’ll go back with a flush cut saw and chisel and trim them all once the final assembly is done.

I didn’t go into detail on drawboring. But if anyone is curious, look up Chris Schwarz’s blogs on it or look at his workbench books. I know he details it in at least one if not both of them.

My process for the drawbored joints was:

  1. Drill 1/2” holes through the mortises going at least 2” through the back side.
  2. Fit the tenons in and use a transfer punch to mark the hole center.
  3. Remove the tenon and drill 1/2” hole through ~3/32” closer to the shoulder than the transfer punch center mark.
  4. Turn pegs to 1/2” and taper last 1 or 1.5” down to about 5/16” diameter.
  5. Rub a block of paraffin wax on all but the last 1” or so before driving peg in. Alternatively, used wood glue instead of wax if desired.
  6. Drive pegs home.

Not difficult at all but sure results in a rock-solid joint.

I didn’t take any pics yet so I’ll save it for the next blog but I’m currently working on the leg vise. I got the chop roughed out yesterday and made the parallel guide. I installed the guide in the chop and clamped it up to the leg. I was in the process of boring through both for the screw when I ran out of time. So, that’s where I’m at now…

I’ll do another post on the leg vise when I get it finished up. Thanks for checking in!

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

13 comments so far

View jeffswildwood's profile


5159 posts in 3472 days

#1 posted 07-05-2017 01:26 PM

Ken you have put a massive amount of work in on this and it is looking good. This is going to be a great bench!

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View KelleyCrafts's profile


5359 posts in 2233 days

#2 posted 07-05-2017 01:38 PM

Looks great buddy. Finish that beast!

-- Dave - - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

10503 posts in 2076 days

#3 posted 07-05-2017 01:56 PM

My first drawbored joint was putting a handle on a cane. And yeah, they pull together rock solid. If you have drawbore pins of the appropriate diameter, you don’t need to taper the pegs very much, either. But it is another tool you have to have on hand. ;-)

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View HokieKen's profile


22004 posts in 2633 days

#4 posted 07-05-2017 02:05 PM

Thanks fellas.

Dave, I was going to make a drawbore pin but thought I’d try it without first to see if it was necessary. It wasn’t. But yeah, if I was using pre-made dowels, it might be faster to use a pin rather than making the taper.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17833 posts in 4113 days

#5 posted 07-05-2017 02:13 PM

Very nice, congrats on the progress!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View theoldfart's profile


13157 posts in 3945 days

#6 posted 07-05-2017 04:38 PM

Like the purple heart pins, nice touch. Your almost there Kenny.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Northwest29's profile


1721 posts in 3985 days

#7 posted 07-05-2017 05:31 PM

Oh my gosh Ken that is a beast. Looking good your commitment to completing it is really paying off.

-- Ron, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View mirock's profile


196 posts in 4126 days

#8 posted 07-06-2017 03:12 PM

Very cool.

...when I will do my own?...

-- Dad, husband and everythingmaker

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4361 days

#9 posted 07-06-2017 03:16 PM

This workbench is looking good.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View GR8HUNTER's profile


9698 posts in 2207 days

#10 posted 07-06-2017 03:24 PM

your NOT done till the final photo of you posing on it LIKE fridge did LMAO :<))
im loving the peg choice fancy….... GREAT JOB :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View HokieKen's profile


22004 posts in 2633 days

#11 posted 07-06-2017 03:59 PM

Thanks guys. I don’t think anyone can pose like Fridge did though Tony :-))

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View SpaceAgePlane's profile


32 posts in 1928 days

#12 posted 07-07-2017 11:32 PM

Very Nice! Don’t be afraid of working with Ironwood. It’s actually not bad and as long as you don’t have a piece that was close to the “sapwood”(if there is such a thing on Ironwood) it’s very tight and easy to work. Sharp tools make it compliant. Can’t wait to see more!

-- Paul @ Space Age Plane Co.

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4298 days

#13 posted 07-10-2017 02:14 PM

Going along nicely

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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