Small workbench based on shipbuilt's Short Block V8 (Workbench Challange) #2: The Tops

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Blog entry by brianb6603 posted 03-16-2015 12:55 AM 1835 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Concept and leg assembly Part 2 of Small workbench based on shipbuilt's Short Block V8 (Workbench Challange) series Part 3: Leg stretchers, assembly bolts and bottom shelf. »

Well, the tops have taken longer than I anticipated. But it has turned out nice. The original Short Block V8 designed with a Torsten box top but I wanted a solid top. After lots of consideration I decided that I wanted the top to be Baltic Birch laminated on edge for the top. This would be consistent with the leg construction and would make for a very solid top. However this presented an issue as Baltic Birch is not cheap (best price here in Oregon, USA is $55.00 for a 5×5’ sheet). So… I decided to make a core of MDF and surround it with Baltic Birch.

Also I wanted to make the dog holes square instead of the 3/4” round holes that shipwright used on the original Short Block V8 plan. In looking over ideas on how to do this without a massive amount of work. I found a post on the Benchcrafted blog on how they did it. They cut out the dog holes with a high end router bit from an oversized blank. From my point of view this is way to difficult, and I don’t have those high end router bits. I decided to cut the blocks out at one at a time and the use my bandsaw to cut the notches and my sander to cleanup the faces. I then glued the blocks to 3/4” Baltic Birch on both sides to finish out the dogs.

If you decide to do a top this way you need to be careful to watch your clamp tension. I managed to introduce a slight curve into both tops by clamping more on one side than the other. I was able to reduce the curve by making a router jig that took a perfectly flat 1/8” off the bottom where the tops sit on the legs. The rest will come out when I flatten the top at the end of the process.

The following photos and captions show the process

The Dog Hole and wagon section.

I wanted the dog holes to be more than 1” wide. The dog strip is some local Maple that has been sitting around in my shop for at least 35 years (it was in the shop when we bought the house 12 years ago). I cut the strips with my chop saw at 2° and sanded to smooth with my 6” belt sander, then I cut the notch at 30° with my table saw and cut the drop notch with the band saw.

I glued, pin nailed and clamped using my first dog as a spacing template.

Gluing on the second side.

I needed this section to be 1” wider overall so there would be room for the wagon, wedge and end stop block. So I added another layer of 1/2” BB to give me that space.

2 more 3/4” BB strips on each side to provide the support for the wagon vice assembly.

The solid top sections

The Baltic Birch part of these top sections is 8) 1.25” strips of BB glued together. At this point I decided that pin nails were going to be trouble so I started to add 2 Biscuits to each side to keep everything aligned.

The core is 3 layers of MDF.

The parts needed for a section.

Of course, letting the MDF show at the bench ends was not acceptable so I cut 1.25” sections off the ends, used biscuits and glued to build up the illusion and to hide the MDF.
I then added a full 3/4” BB to each side of the section (for some reason I don’t have any pictures of this).

Ready to glue together.

After gluing the 2 haves together I added the end cover. It is glued on all faces and has 4, 4” screws near the wagon slot and 3” on the other edge.

The wedges for the end block. The block itself is made from a scrap of Madrone from a wind downed tree in a coworkers yard (thanks Ralph, I’ll come get the rest of it soon).

Lots of sanding was done.

Starting to look like a bench.

Here you can see some of the bow between the top and leg assembly.

The solution was to make a jig that spanned the bow, allowing the router bit to cut a straight/flat path.

Jig in action.

Parallel slots.

Ready for leg stretchers.

That will be for next time. Thanks for looking.

-- Brian Brown, Eugene, OR

3 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


8453 posts in 3403 days

#1 posted 03-16-2015 04:16 PM

Looking good Brian. I notice you eliminated the “ears” from the wedge block. I’m sure that won’t cause trouble. I guess I included them because they are a traditional feature of the deck beam joint that inspired them. They are certainly necessary there but not so much here.
Very nice bench.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View brianb6603's profile


8 posts in 2207 days

#2 posted 03-16-2015 05:34 PM

Thanks for the kind comments, I’m not sure what the “ears” are… Maybe the shoulders that lake the side wedges thicker? The only boat building I have worked on is a strip kayak so I don’t know the terminology. but I love the way the assembly spreads the force so the end cannot blow out.

I have the stretchers done and will add the next blog post this week.

Thanks again, Brian

-- Brian Brown, Eugene, OR

View HTown's profile


114 posts in 1792 days

#3 posted 04-16-2015 02:34 AM

Your bench looks great. I was thinking of laminating BB strips for the top on my bench. Are you pleased with hiw ut is holding up? Any other lessons you want to share?

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