Holtzapffel workbench project #4: question about the mortise and tenon joinery

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Blog entry by martin007 posted 09-09-2008 03:46 PM 2530 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: top assembled- now resuming work on the base Part 4 of Holtzapffel workbench project series Part 5: base joinery »


I am getting ready to make the joinery for the legs and stretchers. I wonder if I should build the joint tight or leave some space for wood movement. The stretchers (tenon) are 5 inch in width by one inch tick. In the book, they call for a tight joint. I wonder what will happen when that 5 inch wide tenon expend in width.

the legs are pretty beefy 3 by 5 inch


-- Martin, Gatineau, Québec

3 comments so far

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4924 days

#1 posted 09-09-2008 05:45 PM

I left mine a little loose in width. There will be a little bit movement but not a lot. I also drawbored my pins, to pull the joints nice and tight and to hold them in place.

View martin007's profile


142 posts in 4585 days

#2 posted 09-09-2008 08:15 PM

thanks Mike, I wanted to two shoulder tenons, but since I will leave some room for wood movement, I wonder If I should use four shoulder tenon instead to prevent for seeing the gap in dry season.

Have you put any finish on your bench?

Your bench looks very nice, specially with the wooden screw. I still have not made any decision yet on the type of vise I will use. But the wooden screw are very tempting, my other options would be the veritas twin screw.

-- Martin, Gatineau, Québec

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4924 days

#3 posted 09-10-2008 01:54 AM

I didn’t notice or understand you were only doing two shoulders. You don’t need a very large shoulder to hide the gap, if you go that route. Also, 5” won’t see a lot of movement. You will probably be fine if you decide to stay with the 2-shoulder tenon.

I used a simple Danish Oil finish on my bench. Also, Christopher Schwarz did a nice article in Woodworking Magazine, about workbench finishes if you have that magazine.

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