Work Bench Build #4: The Base

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Blog entry by jmos posted 02-10-2012 07:51 PM 3876 reads 2 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Gluing Up the Top and Milling the Base Part 4 of Work Bench Build series Part 5: Twin Screw Endvise »

Since last time I’ve been working on the base. I used 4/4 red oak, so there was lots of milling and gluing up of stock. It was a bit tedious, but I think I’m finally getting the hang of using the jointer efficiently.

From the beginning I had planned to make this bench knock down in case I need to move it in the future. The original PWW bench was also knockdown, where the short and long stretchers were bolted on. I decided instead to make the two ends solid assemblies and bolt on the long stretchers, still movable, but a bit more strudy.

Before assembly I tried to do everything I could think I needed to do to the legs and stretchers. I drilled all the holes, mortises, and dadoes for the leg vise, drilled and counter bored the holes in the upper stretcher for the lag bolts to attach the top, cut the dadoes for the long stretchers, and relieved all the edges.

I also cut the 2 5/8” hole in the leg for the leg vise. I bought a hole cutting saw for this. Since it wouldn’t cut though 3” at a time, I had to drill out as much as the hole saw could handle, take the leg to the bench and chisel out the waste, then back to the drill press where I raised the table to drill out again. it took three iterations, but in the end it worked pretty well.

The legs are 3×5, and I attached the upper and lower short stretchers (which were about the same size) with mortise and tenon joints. The tenons were 1.5”x3.5”. I seriously thought about doing a double tenon, and I think it would have added strength (long grain glue surface) to the joint, but I finally decided this was not a great project to try this for the first time, so I went with a solid tenon and decided to try drawboring.

The drawboring did not go very well. I thought I might be in for trouble when I realized my benchtop drill press only has a little over 2” of travel, and I couldn’t drill the drawbore holes in one shot. I drilled out on half with the drill press and finished the holes with a hand drill. They weren’t as straight as they could have been. I think I also offset the holes in the tenon too much (~1/16th), at least given the overall length of the hole (5”). Anyway, I applied glue, fit everything up, and applied two clamps to close the joints tightly. As I started driving the pins I could get the pin through the leg and into the tenon, but they just were not going all the way through; they didn’t seem to want to make it out of the tenon and back into the leg. After cracking off a couple of pins, I drilled out the remaining holes again to widen the hole in the tenon and just pinned them. I figured pinning was better than nothing; the clamps are off and it is holding the joints tightly closed.

The end result is the assemblies are very sturdy, and everything is square and in one plane, so I’m pretty happy.

I used dadoes for the long stretchers into the legs and counter bored the holes for the 4” hex head bolts. The front stretcher has a 45deg point on the top for the deadman to ride on. I cut the 45 on the table saw along the entire length, then notched out the track around the leg.

Then I fastened the leg vise nut to the leg. I cut a dado in the leg for the nut. I figured I didn’t want to glue it in case I ever want to move it to another bench. Whatever method used to attach the nut won’t really see any forces; the dado will support the weight of the nut, and clamping will draw the nut agains the leg. Attaching it really just prevents the nut from sliding out of the dado if you push on the chop. I decided to cut a 1/4” deep by 1/4” wide groove in the block and use a strip of oak screwed into the leg to trap it. If I ever want to move it, I can pull out two screws and its done.

Tomorrow I can bolt together the base and check for square across the entire thing. Of course my shop floor is so out of level I’ll have to shim no matter what.

Next up is the twin screw end vise. I want to get that installed so I know exactly where to position the top on the base. At some point I want to get the scale out and weigh the components.

-- John

3 comments so far

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 4667 days

#1 posted 02-11-2012 07:38 AM

I see some good progress here, keep it up.
Thanks for giving us a look.

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View Angela's profile


205 posts in 4395 days

#2 posted 06-30-2012 02:36 PM

Thanks for blogging this. I recently blogged a project and it takes a lot of work and you have to remember to take photos as you go. I’m glad you posted a photos of the end pieces and legs, I just wish you had posted some photos of the long stretchers once they were attached at this stage.

-- - Helping other woodworker's

View jmos's profile


918 posts in 3869 days

#3 posted 06-30-2012 02:50 PM

Thanks Angela, take a look ahead a couple of posts and there are some pics. I used 2 bolts with lock washers. I countersunk the heads so I didn’t have to worry about a work piece getting scratched on a bolt head, or have any issues clamping something long against the leg.

If you had any specific question, fire away!

Also, looking at the text, I probably should have said the front stretcher has 2 45 degree cuts where the deadman rides, since those 2 cuts actually form a 90degree angle, not a 45 degree angle. I sure most were able to figure that out anyway.

-- John

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