Bowling Alley Workbench #8: Recap - some mistakes, some saves, and a finished base.

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 07-16-2009 09:22 PM 5965 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Moving forward at 0mph Part 8 of Bowling Alley Workbench series Part 9: The Top #1: Tip, Tap, Top »

After last week’s ongoing progress, it felt a bit slow this week (which it is), but I did have some things I wanted to share, and also was able to finish the base with 3 coats of BLO which is what I’m going to keep on it for conditioning the wood, and protecting it from moisture.

Mistake #1: Drawboring to the wrong side (cringe)
2 legs on each side of the base are connected together using 2 short rails. The top one is using a sliding dovetail, while the lower one uses M&T. I decided that I’ll have my try at drawboring the M&T as I’ve never done it before, plus – it’ll add a nice accent to the legs (2 visible pins for each tenon).

the idea is that you bore the holes in the leg where the mortise is, place the tenon in, mark the hole location, and then drill the hole in the tenon at a slight offset from the one in the mortise towards the shoulder of the tenon. once you put a pin through both sets of holes – it pulls the joint together tightly. so far so good.

I bored the pin holes in the mortise, placed the tenon in, marked hole location, but alas – my mind was in a different space – I marked the offset AWAY from the shoulder , which in effect would cause the pin to push the tenon out instead of pull it tightly in….

luckily I did a dry fit test, and noticed (really lukcily that I noticed it at that point) that the holes seem funny…something didn’t make sense to me.

Fix #1: at first I thought about abandoning the drawbore idea, and just glue the M&T, clamp it, and then plug the holes in the mortise for a faux-drawbore look… at which point I figured – if I can plug the mortise side – I can probably plug the tenon side. so I did. I used a 1/4” dowel, glued it into the wrong hole, and cut it flush with the cheeks of the tenon when it dried.. then marked the holes again – and drill the offset holes in the right location. worked like a charm!

Mistake #2 : Rail on the wrong side of the leg
while reviewing my last published blog installment, one of the pictures drew my attention. something didn’t seem right, but I couldn’t make it at first. looking more closely I found that in the picture it seemed like the short rail seems like it’s installed on the inside of the legs as opposed to the outside. when I built the legs, I ran out of Hemlock FIR material, and decided to keep the side rails at 2×4 as opposed to 4×4 (laminated), and in the future add the extra 2×4 from the outside to beef it up, and give it a more even look. I’m still not sure how it happened – but in fact I installed (Mortised) the short rails on the inside of the legs (facing the inside of the base) instead of the outside (which would make the “completed” rail flush with the outside of the base.

Fix #2: you guessed it – there is no real fix for this… I’ll just have to live with this knowing that my rails are inside out. I think I’ll be ok – maybe a session or 2 at the shrink, and I’ll forget all about it.

Other than that – the base is all finished with 3 coats of BLO to protect if from moisture. I didn’t really care to buff it up much as this is a workbench, and I am more concerned about it’s stability and longevity than it’s being a piece of fine woodworking (which it’s NOT).

here is the finished base:

now , I can stop worrying about the base, and focus solely on the top, followed by the vises.

Thanks for reading,

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

12 comments so far

View ryno101's profile


388 posts in 4785 days

#1 posted 07-16-2009 09:36 PM

Don’t kid yourself… that “inside out” rail is going to be the thing you think about every time you look at the base… but that’s OK. It’s the way we are, and that’s part of why we’re woodworkers, right?

Second point, it is most definitely a piece of fine woodworking, or at the least a fine piece of woodworking!

Third, man that thing is starting to shape up, I’m impressed with your progress on this, and that base looks fantastic!

-- Ryno

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 4812 days

#2 posted 07-16-2009 09:47 PM

Hi Mate

That base is looking mighty fine and yes we make mistakes but thats why we love woodwork because we make these little errors just to test us and think many years to come IF ONLY i did this or that LOL….


-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4502 days

#3 posted 07-16-2009 09:52 PM

I’m still not sure what you’re talking about with the rails. I think it’s looking great!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 5112 days

#4 posted 07-16-2009 10:15 PM

Looking great so far, I made the exact same mistake as you did regards the drawbores (and the same fix!)

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4769 days

#5 posted 07-16-2009 10:22 PM

Thanks everyone -

Ryan – you know I’ll be thinking about it, but can’t I fantasize about NOT having to? lol

Damian – I’ll quote you “Great minds think alike…” for better for worse…

I am very happy with the way things turned out so far. a recent post by Jon3 made me want to show some mistakes, how they can happen, and how to deal with them – some can be fixed, some become design elements, and some just stay there- and unless pointed out – would never be seen as a mistake. I thought it was a good idea suggested by Jon to also show what we have to deal with, and not only the “easy -look ma no hands” parts in our progress.

Gary – the short lower rails, are offset from the center – they were supposed to be offset in the other direction. really – no biggy, but a mistake nonetheless.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 4849 days

#6 posted 07-16-2009 10:48 PM

these sound like very typical mistakes that happen in my shop. I thought woodworking would teach me to slow down and avoid this type of mistake. Instead, it has taught me how to fix mistakes and how to apologize to my wife for being behind deadline.

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 5078 days

#7 posted 07-16-2009 11:15 PM

Hey Purp, don’t sweat it the base looks really nice. Like it has been said on here many times the measure of a good wood worker is how well he can hide his mistakes! Alas though Ryno is right…evry time I look at anything I have ever made my eye instantly goes right to the spot where I have a flaw/mistake…it’s the nature of us picky anal retentive perfectionists!

Hokie that is a good observation…I always seem to get into this mode where I’m in a hurry, and usually unnecessarily…and thats when I make mistakes!


View blackcherry's profile


3346 posts in 4943 days

#8 posted 07-16-2009 11:27 PM

All that work is starting to show a fine, strong and solid bench. I looking forward to see it completed as I know you are but enjoy the journey it a very special project. Your going to enjoy working on it I wish I would have made my years ago. Thank for the up date…Blkcherry

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4874 days

#9 posted 07-17-2009 03:38 AM

Man the bench is looking great. If you want it the flush look just cut yourself a couple of boards and glue them into the space. You said that though in you post.

WhooAhhh! Can’t wait to see this puppy together!

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4462 days

#10 posted 07-17-2009 04:06 AM

looks good from here ,
very solid ,
and a good addition to your shop.
you can use the rails to remember to check things out
better in the future .
as far as i can tell,
it is a good project ,
thanks for the share .
enjoy !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4698 days

#11 posted 07-17-2009 04:51 AM

Now thats a killer bench base great.


View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 4562 days

#12 posted 07-17-2009 03:34 PM

Really honest post there purp. It looks like it,s going to be a great workhorse for you when it,s done.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

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