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Anarchist Workbench Build #5: All About that Base

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Blog entry by Lazyman posted 01-14-2022 04:28 AM 548 reads 0 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Hovarter Wagon Vise installed Part 5 of Anarchist Workbench Build series no next part

I guess I need to give an update. I took a little time off to spend it with family during the holidays but got back to it over the last couple of weeks. One of my design choices compared to the Anarchist’s Workbench is to make the legs slightly thinner. Chris Schwartz’s design has 5×5” legs but since I was able to mill my lumber slightly thicker than he does ( 1-3/8 vs 1-1/4”) my legs would have been considerably thicker had I gone with laminating 4 boards. With 3, my legs are just over 5×4 though that also means that the tenon is only one board thick instead of 2.

I did part of the mortise for the short stretcher on my CNC prior to glue up.

I also cut the mortise for the long stretcher prior to glue up and masked off the checks of the mortise and the tenon to make it easy to avoid getting glue on them.


Used even more clamps for the legs than I did when gluing up the top.

With the legs glued up, I finished cutting the mortises for the short stretchers to full depth with a combination of mortise chisels and router. I didn’t take any pictures of that.

Next up, I used my CNC to cut the cut the groove and holes for the leg vise into one leg. This is about as thick of a piece that I can mill on my machine and my normal work holding won’t work on anything this thick so I applied painters tape to the bed and the leg and stuck them together with CA.

I didn’t actually cut the through hole all the way through. The partial hole will act as a pilot hole later.

The stretchers were simpler to make by gluing a long and short piece together to form the tenon and shoulder and then a test fit.

I drilled the drawbores to hold the base together. Here a picture showing the offset between the hole in the leg mortise and the hole in the stretcher tenon

I made 6’ of cherry dowels for the locking pegs.

and then assembled the base upside down on the underside of the top with the pegs partially driven in to pull everything tight and square so I could layout the mortise location.


Then came 4 days of chopping.


These 3+ inch deep mortises were quite a workout. I finally got to really use the mortising chisels that I bought about 35 years ago when I first decided I wanted to get into woodworking. Each mortise took about 3 hours on average. It was hard work but actually quite fun to do this way. Several times along the way I contemplated getting the router out or hogging them out with a drill but I stuck to it.

And that brings the build up to date.

Next up will be to drill the drawbores through the mortises in the top and then reassemble the base and make sure that all 4 legs slide into their mortises with the stretchers attached. Hopefully only minor tweaks required and then I’ll mark the locations for the drawbores on the tenons and disassemble one more time.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.



26 comments so far

View Rich's profile

Rich

7755 posts in 1930 days


#1 posted 01-14-2022 04:48 AM

Looking good, Nathan. Thanks for sharing.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

5028 posts in 3689 days


#2 posted 01-14-2022 12:51 PM

I guess I need to get my butt in gear and post an update too.

I looked at a dowel maker at one point and decided it was a bit too spendy for the few times I would use it. Still, it is an interesting contraption.

The Benchcrafted plans call for the second board from the front to be a dog strip. As things have progressed on my build I think your approach is better, where the holes are drilled after the top is finished. There have been a number of issues that resulted from the dog strip being installed before the tail vise and the deadman slot.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

9389 posts in 1923 days


#3 posted 01-14-2022 01:22 PM

Looks like it’s coming along, Nathan.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View recycle1943's profile

recycle1943

6258 posts in 2963 days


#4 posted 01-14-2022 01:35 PM

with all the labor involved, I sure hope you’ll be satisfied with the end result

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View HokieKen's profile (online now)

HokieKen

20728 posts in 2479 days


#5 posted 01-14-2022 01:51 PM

Awesome work Nathan! I notice you pulled the stretchers when you dry fit the legs in the mortises. Did you leave them to make sure they don’t pull anything a-whack?

For pinning the top to the legs, I didn’t drawbore my pins. You certainly can if you want but the reason for drawboring the stretchers into the legs is to remove any racking or instability of the base. So since the base is rigid and the top is a single piece, drawboring is kinda like belt and suspenders ;-) It certainly won’t hurt anything, I’m just thinking about what a pain it would be to drill the top, set the top on the legs, mark the hole location on the legs, remove the top, drill the legs, put the top back on the legs, and finally drive the pins. Lotta lifting for little benefit that I can see at least.

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

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

5028 posts in 3689 days


#6 posted 01-14-2022 02:17 PM

As an alternative to trying to drawbore the legs into the top, the benchcraft plans use a side rail mounted flush with the leg tenon shoulders that have 2 holes drilled through them top-to-bottom for 4” Spax style screws that will hold the top in place.

You could also make the leg tenons a bit longer and cut the mortises thru the top and make them wedged tenons. Of course, the bench top would be a bit lower.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

17683 posts in 3959 days


#7 posted 01-14-2022 02:24 PM

Very cool. And extra Galoot Index points for using the No.77!

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

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

8861 posts in 2728 days


#8 posted 01-14-2022 03:15 PM


I guess I need to get my butt in gear and post an update too.

I looked at a dowel maker at one point and decided it was a bit too spendy for the few times I would use it. Still, it is an interesting contraption.

The Benchcrafted plans call for the second board from the front to be a dog strip. As things have progressed on my build I think your approach is better, where the holes are drilled after the top is finished. There have been a number of issues that resulted from the dog strip being installed before the tail vise and the deadman slot.

- EarlS

I would not have bought that doweling machine normally either but it popped up on eBay with a buy it now price I could not pass up. I came in handy for this project but frankly, I suspect that it really won’t see that much use.

My original plan was to have the dog strip right at the front too. Hovarter’s examples have them there as well but it was going to interfere with the mortises for the legs so decided to move it in one board.

BTW, how far in did or are you putting the deadman slot?

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Notw's profile

Notw

1178 posts in 3094 days


#9 posted 01-14-2022 03:17 PM

Looking great so far, can you tell me more about the dowel maker you have, that looks awesome

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

8861 posts in 2728 days


#10 posted 01-14-2022 03:18 PM

Thanks Dave. Thanks Smitty. I don’t normally go so Galoot (you saw the CNC) but it was finally a reason to use that #77 and after a little fiddling made some pretty nice dowels too.

And I sure hope so too, Dick!

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

8861 posts in 2728 days


#11 posted 01-14-2022 03:38 PM



Awesome work Nathan! I notice you pulled the stretchers when you dry fit the legs in the mortises. Did you leave them to make sure they don t pull anything a-whack?

Thanks. I fit each leg individually and the next step will be to reassemble with the stretchers and fine tune in caseI twisted any of them. Hopefully not because it may be a PITA figuring out where or at least the best place to tweak the fit. That was hard enough for me even when fitting one leg at a time.


For pinning the top to the legs, I didn t drawbore my pins. You certainly can if you want but the reason for drawboring the stretchers into the legs is to remove any racking or instability of the base. So since the base is rigid and the top is a single piece, drawboring is kinda like belt and suspenders ;-) It certainly won t hurt anything, I m just thinking about what a pain it would be to drill the top, set the top on the legs, mark the hole location on the legs, remove the top, drill the legs, put the top back on the legs, and finally drive the pins. Lotta lifting for little benefit that I can see at least.

- HokieKen

Interesting point. The legs do fit fairly tightly so perhaps once I get the base fit again it might not need drawbores. That will certainly make it easier to take it apart to move it should I ever need to. One concern I have is that, as you can see from the last picture, because of the wagon vise requires about 16”, I had to move the base way closer to the far end. I am a little concerned that if I don’t at at least pin them, even if not drawbored, I might at some point cause it to pivot upward if I put too much weight on the end with the wagon vise. I am sort of planning on the extra weight from the base helping to prevent that problem. One the other hand with the tenons as long as they probably cannot come off unless I lift the top straight up. If it is needed a cleat as Earl mentioned might be easier too.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View MikeB_UK's profile (online now)

MikeB_UK

844 posts in 2376 days


#12 posted 01-14-2022 04:14 PM

Coming together nicely Nathan.

-- Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

View HokieKen's profile (online now)

HokieKen

20728 posts in 2479 days


#13 posted 01-14-2022 04:42 PM



...

I am a little concerned that if I don t at at least pin them, even if not drawbored, I might at some point cause it to pivot upward if I put too much weight on the end with the wagon vise. I am sort of planning on the extra weight from the base helping to prevent that problem. One the other hand with the tenons as long as they probably cannot come off unless I lift the top straight up. If it is needed a cleat as Earl mentioned might be easier too.

- Lazyman

Yeah, I would pin them, just not drawbore them. Once I had my top on mine, I just drilled through the mortise and tenon in one shot and drove pins in. Just no drawboring. That way if I do decide to move one day, I can just drill those pins out to pull the top off. I only pinned my front legs because I wanted leave the rear ones unpinned to allow for movement in the top. But with the orientation of the boards in your top, you shouldn’t need to worry about movement front-to-back.

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

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

5028 posts in 3689 days


#14 posted 01-14-2022 05:21 PM


BTW, how far in did or are you putting the deadman slot?

- Lazyman

It is a 3/4” slot, 1-1/2” deep, set back 3/4” from the front edge that runs from one leg mortise to the other. That makes it about 3/8” from the dog holes, which is why I wish I had realized it would be an issue and moved them back one board.

If you want a removeable pin, you could go with a knock down bolt approach and put the threaded end nut in the tenon.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

8861 posts in 2728 days


#15 posted 01-14-2022 08:34 PM

You know, the Moravian benches don’t even have mortise and tenons They usually only have 4 dowels about inch long that just prevents the bench from sliding on its knockdown base. Two of them are usually elongated holes for movement. With 3” long tenons sticking into the top, I am probably good to go. I can always poke some dowels in later if I need them.

BTW, my mortises are actually slightly wider than the tenons, no doubt due to my mortising technique. That may actually accommodate a little bit of lateral wood movement but I chose boards and oriented the grain to minimize it as much as possible.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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