Workbench Build - Splayed leg French Bench #19: Drawbore Assembly

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Blog entry by Mauricio posted 01-28-2013 09:15 PM 4901 reads 0 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 18: The Shelf Part 19 of Workbench Build - Splayed leg French Bench series Part 20: Final Top Prep and Tool Tray Assembly »

Hello again folks. Here I am in the home stretch. I say that but I know there are still a bunch of details left.

I decided to go with drawbored Mortise and Tenons with no glue. The splayed legs on this bench make it incredibly stable as is so it’s not necessary at all. I also won’t have to worry about glue not curing well in the cold weather. The idea of not watching the clock during glue up is pretty nice to, especially on an assembly his size.

The hole stress free thing is true in theory any way.

This assembly was pretty damn stressful since it was my first time drawboring anything. You’ll see the issues as we go through the pictures.

I think you are all aware of my venture into making drawbore pins.

So now that those are done I needed to smooth all surfaces and edges.

Then drill out the holes in the mortises.

Transfer the holes to the tenons with a little offset. This was one of the nerve wracking parts because I was really unsure of how much offset to use in oak. I ended up using around 3/32 or so I guess. Once I got a sense for it I just went by eye.

When I tested the fit on my fist couple (with only 1/16” offset) there was almost no offset and it wasn’t pulling the joint tight.

So I used a tip I saw on a Peter Follansbee blog. I glued dowels back into the hole then predrilled them with more offset.

Pretty easy and I only had to do that on 3 of the holes.

I had to adjust the fit on one or two shoulders that weren’t closing up tight on the outside face. The drawbore pin helps for checking these fits.

The #92 was the tool of choice for cleaning up the shoulders.

Next I cut some oak pegs.

Then whittled a point on the end of each.

So without further ado lets start driving some pegs. I’m almost shat myself on this part because I didn’t know what to expect. I just stopped thinking about and started pounding them in.

I was afraid my offset might be too much. Maybe the pegs wouldn’t go in? Maybe they would break off in the middle of pounding them in? I didn’t know.

I did read one tip about rubbing wax on the pegs to ease their navigation through the hole, so that’s what I did.

And I’m glad I did. Here goes the first one!

Went in perfectly!

I went through all the joints for the stretchers first. Besides some stray hammer blows (I’ll have to steam the dents out) everything went swimmingly.

But of course nothing ever goes perfectly right?. Here is my first and only FAIL.

Kind of looks like a surprised face ;-0
The peg broke off before I could drive the last inch in. So it did get all the way through the tenon and about 1/2” into the back wall of the mortise before it broke

Also, I guess this is the best place for this kind of failure because it will be covered up by leather for the vise chop.

So here is the assembled core of the bench. Or the wet dog as Roy Underhill called it.

It’s amazing how the pegs hold everything together. Its Rock Friggin’ Solid. Just an incredible bit of ancient technology. There is no give in the joints at all. I’m pretty excited!

Next up:
Flatten the top again
Chamfer dog holes
Glue and bolt on the tool tray (that will be tricky)
Final small details (removing dents and such)
Apply finish

So I’m almost done!

Comments and questions are always welcome.

Thanks for the watching and for all the encouragement!


-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

27 comments so far

View blackcherry's profile


3343 posts in 4366 days

#1 posted 01-28-2013 09:22 PM

Does the phrase labor of love fall into this project, this turn out great with your spot on craftsman ship well done!

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3495 days

#2 posted 01-28-2013 09:25 PM

Wow, I can’t believe you broke that dowel. You’re gonna have to scrap the whole project now. If only you had rived your wood and made the dowels from a dowel plate. ;-)

Looks great, Mauricio. I think you’ll have quite a bench to take pride in.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View stefang's profile


16827 posts in 3878 days

#3 posted 01-28-2013 09:29 PM

Looks really good Mauricio.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View ShaneA's profile


7084 posts in 3142 days

#4 posted 01-28-2013 09:35 PM

Really nice Mauricio. This is an inspirational piece. Between all these benches and tool cabinets I am seeing pop up on blogs and in projects, it puts a lot of pressure on a fella to get off the porch and run with the big dogs. Well done.

View John's profile


341 posts in 4341 days

#5 posted 01-28-2013 09:52 PM

that is a great,solid looking bench! thanks for the info on the drawbores, i’m about to drawbore mine (in the next weekend or so) and was wondering if 1/16” was enough

-- John - Central PA -

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3531 days

#6 posted 01-28-2013 10:16 PM

Great bench.
Thanks for sharing the progress pics.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Mauricio's profile


7163 posts in 3695 days

#7 posted 01-28-2013 10:18 PM

Thanks BC, definitely a labor a love I’ve been working on it for about a year and while I’m happy to almost be done I think I’ll miss the bench building journey.

Your right Brandon, I think I’ll get rid of it. You want it. Come get it….. Syke…

Thanks Stefang!

Shane, you have way more skills than me man, go make you one. It will probably only take you a week. 

Thanks John, I tried to do 1/16” but I found it to be too close to the first hole I poked with my auger bit. That’s what happened when I had that one tenon that wasn’t closing up. There was not enough offset to pull it tight. I had better luck with about 3/32 – 1/8”. Just play with it and see what works for you. And be sure to rub those pegs on a candle, that’s what I did and it worked great.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Brit's profile


7838 posts in 3386 days

#8 posted 01-28-2013 10:21 PM

Yippee! Another convert to drawboring. Looking good Mauricio.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Mauricio's profile


7163 posts in 3695 days

#9 posted 01-28-2013 10:28 PM

Thanks Smith!

Thanks Andy, yes sir, no glue or anything, I’m a convert. Cant wait to try it on furniture projects.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View AnthonyReed's profile


10108 posts in 2984 days

#10 posted 01-28-2013 10:34 PM

Yes!!! Nice work Mauricio.

-- ~Tony

View Mosquito's profile


9935 posts in 2836 days

#11 posted 01-28-2013 10:35 PM

So much awesome going on there Mauricio. Hope mine comes even half as good as yours does. I’d be happy with it.

Why not leave the battle scars in? I mean… it’s gonna happen sooner or later, right? ;-)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View LukieB's profile


966 posts in 2873 days

#12 posted 01-28-2013 10:36 PM

Looking good Maur…. like really good. I really like the drawboring, gonna have to try that

-- Lucas, "Someday woodworks will be my real job, until then, there's this"

View Don W's profile

Don W

19371 posts in 3111 days

#13 posted 01-28-2013 11:19 PM

Mauricio, I’d never have considered building a bench like this but I really love it. I’m still unsure how I’d like a bench with flush legs ( no overhang) but it looks great. You’ll enjoy it a long time. Thanks for sharing the journey.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 3146 days

#14 posted 01-29-2013 12:12 AM

Great stuff, I too agree those draw bores will hold more than fine. Great looking bench my friend, you will always remember making it and look back when your older and smile. Awesome!

-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16240 posts in 3162 days

#15 posted 01-29-2013 12:26 AM

Outstanding bench with near-flawless execution. Wow.

From the finished surfaces to the screws to the splayed leg design, you’ve done amazing work on this bench. You’ve built a shop partner that will last several lifetimes, without a doubt. A long way to come from your starting point: a couple of thick oak planks. :-) Congratulations, looking forward to the final project post!!!

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

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