Workbench #14: The Sliding Deadman

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Blog entry by Dan Wolfgang posted 06-20-2017 01:46 AM 2350 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 13: The Gapstop Part 14 of Workbench series Part 15: Odds and Ends »

The last notable piece of my bench build left is the sliding deadman. I had bought a cut-off scrap of ash to use to make the rail the deadman would slide on, but as I measured what I needed I realized the scrap was far bigger than I needed. I grabbed some smaller scraps of red oak to make the rail. When I brought them into better light I realized one piece was red oak and one was white oak. Well, good enough—I got these pieces cleaned up, glued together, and shaped.

And once shaped I glued it to the bench stretcher.

On to the deadman itself: a beefy piece of 8/4 sapele. The two shorter pieces would be used for the top and bottom of the deadman. I cut a mortise in each of these short pieces and tenons in each end of the long piece to build it.

In one of the shorter pieces I cut a groove to run in the rail.

At the top of the deadman is a… well, I guess it’s a rabbet. A giant rabbet, about 2” long, to fit into the groove on the underside of the front slab.

I decided to drawbore the mortise and tenon joint together with a piece of walnut. Unfortunately, I had no luck drilling clean holes. I just don’t have any bits that drill cleanly at this size. (Actually, I don’t have bits that drill cleanly at many sizes! They’re a priority tool upgrade, I think.)

In the end, it looks pretty good, though!

And this is where I stopped. By the Benchcrafted plans, I should drill 3/4” dog holes in the deadman now. But I’m not sure what to do—I don’t have a clamp to use in the deadman right now, such as a Veritas Surface Clamp. A Stanley #203 looks good, too, but would require 1” dog holes and “a bit of work if I’ve already got 3/4 holes drilled. But I also wonder if I couldn’t make a clamp of some sort myself. And, for now, any other clamp I have could suffice.

Wood review—the bench now includes:

  • Burrill “white fir”
  • Cherry
  • Soft maple
  • Hard maple
  • Red oak
  • White oak
  • Birch
  • Makore
  • Sapele
  • Walnut

2 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16344 posts in 3228 days

#1 posted 06-20-2017 01:54 AM

“A Stanley #203 looks good, too, but would require 1” dog holes and a bit of work if I’ve already got 3/4 holes drilled.”

#203s won’t work in a deadman that is 2” thick. The ‘hook’ portion is only about 1” away from the main body of the clamp. I redrilled every other hole and thinned the deadman itself, as thickness isn’t really needed.

So before 1” holes are drilled, keep this in mind (if you weren’t aware).

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Dan Wolfgang's profile

Dan Wolfgang

176 posts in 1418 days

#2 posted 06-21-2017 01:27 AM

Yep, that’s part of the dilemma. I wanted to use the 2” sapele I had because I figured it’s size would help make something that slides more easily, but it would obviously require some further milling to fit something like the 203.

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