Workbench #11: Assembling the Base

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Blog entry by Dan Wolfgang posted 05-25-2017 01:18 AM 2057 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: Leg vise Part 11 of Workbench series Part 12: Adding the Shelf »

At this point I had the base components complete and had dry-fitted several times, but I didn’t want to assemble it until the leg vise was complete. Now that the leg vise was done, I could get everything assembled.

Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I can assemble the base I needed to make the shelf ledgers that would fit into the base stretchers. A groove in the stretcher would support the pressure from the ledgers.

Ok, now that the ledgers were made and the dadoes planed into the stretchers, I could get things assembled!

I wanted to drawbore the mortise and tenon joints for the end assemblies. I had never tried drawboring before and I was really surprised how tightly it locked everything together! My mortise and tenons were nice and tight but the 3/8” ash drawbore pins really made the joints rock solid!

Drilling the holes for the pins was a little disappointing in that I don’t have the right tool/bit: the only bit I have that was able to enter cleanly is a 3/8” forstner bit. A little bit of wobble while I used my cordless drill and some slightly-under 3/8” dowels leave a tiny gap when the pins were inserted. I’m sure practice would help more than anything, but I wonder if a drill press and/or a slightly undersized bit (11/32”?) would have helped make a cleaner-looking joint.

With both ends of the base assembled it’s time to get the stretchers and hardware in place. I decided to use some ratchet tie-downs as clamps to help pull the stretcher mortise and tenons together so that I could drill for the hardware.

I am using the Benchcrafted bolt and barrel nut to pull the stretchers together to make a strong base that can be taken apart. This hardware is big.

I drill a 1” hole in the stretcher for the barrel nut and an 8” long hole for the bolt. Without a drill press handy I was left to align this by eye. I was pretty close but needed to rasp things a bit—lets just say I’m glad the barrel nuts can’t be seen!

I’m thrilled to see I did a good job of building a square base, and saying it’s “strong and sturdy” is an amazing understatement! I cut the mortises in the table top and bolted the top to the base with the Spax lag bolts—again, so I can take it apart should I ever need to.

And I have no photo at this stage to share. All I can say is that I was so excited to have something that looked like a workbench, I couldn’t wait to just use it!

3 comments so far

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1248 days

#1 posted 05-25-2017 09:59 PM

Lookin’ good, Dan! Good job on the ledgers. Your drawboring looks nice and snug. You are going to cry when this bench gets dinged up!

View Dan Wolfgang's profile

Dan Wolfgang

176 posts in 1408 days

#2 posted 05-26-2017 01:58 AM

Thanks, Ron, I am quite pleased with it overall. The top is already dinged up quite a bit! The soft fir 2×4s get dented so easily that I wonder if I will, at some point in the future after quite a bit of use, need to replace the top because it’s simply too damaged to continue using.

View FoundSheep's profile


196 posts in 1056 days

#3 posted 05-26-2017 09:52 PM

Congrats Dan, that is a nice looking bench, and more importantly it looks supremely functional. Can’t wait to see it right side up and getting use!

-- -Will, FoundSheep Designs

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