Bowling Alley Workbench #9: The Top #1: Tip, Tap, Top

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 07-21-2009 04:13 PM 5031 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Recap - some mistakes, some saves, and a finished base. Part 9 of Bowling Alley Workbench series Part 10: The Top #2: Flat and Shine »

finally getting to work on the actual bowling alley part of the “bowling alley workbench”, although I really found Damian’s comment on a previous installment entertaining, and might refer to it from now as the “Alley Workbench”

The top as can be seen in the sketchup model is made of 6 different components: Main Slab (nails and all), Dog holes strip, buffer strip, 2 skirts (front and back) and a breadboard End Cap.

In reality this will change slightly as I decided to drop the rear skirt, but might add another end cap.

Up to this point I had cleaned and had the main slab roughly ready, and the dog hole strip:

I then hand planed the bottom of the main slab flat. I only planed the areas that will rest on the leg cross braces, as the rest really has no need to be flat.

I mortised 2 rectangular mortises to fit the tenons on the back legs. these mortises are slightly (1/8”) wider than the tenons to allow for seasonal movement.

The main slab now fit on the leg cross braces and is flush with the back legs. at this point I hand planed the bottom of the dog hole strip where it would rest on the legs, glued and clamped it to the main slab while keeping both pieces resting on the legs (they are not yet flush and flat on the top – that will be done later, right now the bottom is my reference):

Next is the buffer which helps keep the dog holes from running above the legs, and also gives some support on the front side of the wagon vise (once installed). I cleaned up some more strips of the maple, and laminated them together for the buffer strip (none is long enough for the entire length, so they are staggered shorter pieces):

Once that dried, I motrised rectangular mortises in the buffer strip to fit the front leg tenons. my mortises are getting better and better which I really like:

and this fits (still dry) together like this to give the main work surface of the top:

Next would be the end caps which will also allow me to install the wagon vise. followed by the front skirt.

the nice thing is that I am now already working on this semi functional bench, and it seems very stout and steady…. and starts to really shape up now.

Thanks for reading,

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

15 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35201 posts in 4906 days

#1 posted 07-21-2009 04:20 PM

It’s looking great. Nice job on the construction so far.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View a1Jim's profile


117721 posts in 4083 days

#2 posted 07-21-2009 04:21 PM

Hey Sharon
This is really a great bench a lot of hard work to get her done. Almost done.

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4259 days

#3 posted 07-21-2009 04:29 PM

Thats one nice looking Roubo you have there Sharon. You have this coming your way now. It is very nice to be able to use the bench even before it is done! Excited to see the finfish product!

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

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4605 days

#4 posted 07-21-2009 04:56 PM

That mortise looked really clean, I am impressed.

This has been fun to follow.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Jon3's profile


497 posts in 4611 days

#5 posted 07-21-2009 04:57 PM

Now that is starting to look pretty benchlike!

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4485 days

#6 posted 07-21-2009 05:01 PM

Hi Purplev;

I get tired just looking at this project!

Looks good though.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4154 days

#7 posted 07-21-2009 05:17 PM

Thanks everyone, I can feel the end is near… time to use that 3rd wind and push through.

Lee – you keep saying that… so come on over and help me finish this thing already! lol – Thanks.

Todd – Thanks. this bench is rewarding as a bench, but more over it has been an excellent opportunity to finesse (and the road is still long) some techniques, in different scales. for that alone, I’m very pleased that I chose to build my own.

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

View Cato's profile


701 posts in 3818 days

#8 posted 07-21-2009 06:00 PM

Hey PurpLev,
I’ve been following with interest. I am curious to see the leg vise and how that will be used. The mortise and tenons look great.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4327 days

#9 posted 07-21-2009 07:33 PM

This is looking really good. It makes me want to get started on one myself.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View blackcherry's profile


3343 posts in 4329 days

#10 posted 07-21-2009 07:47 PM

Houston the tools have landed!!!!!!!! Starting to look and feel like a very stout bench. All your hard work is almost behind you now, the light at the end is near. Thanks for sharing and enjoy ….Blkcherry

View ellen35's profile


2742 posts in 3938 days

#11 posted 07-21-2009 10:12 PM

This is one very nice bench. It will be worth every minute you spend on it.
If it doesn’t work out for you, you can always resort to bowling as a hobby ;-)

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4091 days

#12 posted 07-21-2009 10:17 PM

I think this will be awsome when finished, it definitely will last a few hundred years give or take a number of coats of finish during that time.A great looking project well done again Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4225 days

#13 posted 07-23-2009 05:36 AM

Nothing like that feeling when a plan comes together and you can start using a new workbench, Looking good.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View ryno101's profile


388 posts in 4170 days

#14 posted 07-27-2009 02:22 PM

Looking great, Sharon!

I have been closely following this… and you’ve been inspiring me!

I’ve got all my base pieces cut to finsihed length, and have marked all for the mortise/tenon cuts, even got mortises (first-ever!) cut for one of the leg assemblies…

Unfortunately, I’m too busy to blog all this, so I’ve been blogging vicariously through you, hope you don’t mind!

We should get together again soon, maybe sometime this month? I’ve got some 2×4 hard maple raw pieces with your name on them for turning into vise handles!

-- Ryno

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4154 days

#15 posted 07-27-2009 03:57 PM

sweet! Thanks Ryan. be my guest to ride on the blog train… my pleasure. we def. need to get together. if you want, I have the router sled to flatten the top that you can take.

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

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