Moravian Workbench #9: A Shelf

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Tom posted 09-29-2019 03:05 PM 1548 reads 1 time favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Installing the drawer Part 9 of Moravian Workbench series Part 10: The Iron Planing Stop »

The Moravian workbench is really designed for use with hand tools. Having a shelf below the bench is helpful to set some tools and keep larger items out of the way. The original example at Old Salem had a simple shelf which was a board set on the stretchers.

I also want a shelf on my workbench but it needs to be removable to maintain the portability of the workbench. I designed my own shelf so that it can be easily removed and carried by one person. It is bracketed on three sides to help keep items from falling off when banging on the workbench. It has two battens on the bottom to help keep it flat and center it across the stretchers. The size is roughly 24” deep by 26” wide. The width was mostly determined by the bottom boards. I used 3/4” by 9” white pine boards for the bottom. I decided to tongue and groove the boards because I have a vintage Stanley swing arm T&G plane which is fun to use and it is a traditional glue joint for shelving. It’s a good idea to straighten and joint the boards before the tongue and grooving. I did that with a jack plane.

For the sides, I used a single dovetail on the corners to join the boards. The sides on mine are 2-1/2” tall.

I considered grooving the sides and rabbeting the bottom like I did on the tool tray, but that just seemed overkill. Also, the grain for the bottom boards runs front to back across the stretchers which creates a pretty wide area for wood movement. It seemed like a lot of expansion and contraction to accommodate in the sides. So I decided to just nail the sides on from under the bottom without any glue. I predrilled the nail holes for the back piece with some oversized to help accommodate wood movement in the bottom. For fun, I used traditional cut box nails. I think they hold better than wire nails also. Once it was nailed together, I planed off the extra on the sides and back of the bottom.

The last step was to add the battens to the bottom. I used an off cut of yellow pine from the tool tray. It is screwed to the underside of the bottom. The center screw is tight and the two end screws are in oversized (elongated) holes and they are not cinched down too tight so as to allow for some expansion in the bottom. I am told the pine does not move as much as other woods, but we’ll see. Really no big deal anyway considering it is a workbench shelf and it will get pretty beat up over time. It just needs to stay together.

That pretty much concludes the “storage” areas for my workbench. Now I have the tool tray, a drawer and a shelf to keep my tools organized and off the work surface.

Next up is a traditional planing stop for holding the work.

-- Tom

1 comment so far

View siggykc's profile


23 posts in 922 days

#1 posted 09-30-2019 08:13 AM

Hey Tom,
Yet again, another wonderful post. I am thoroughly enjoying this fabulous build. Such a striking bench and great display of thought and skill!

Best regards from Australia,

-- Siggy,

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics