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I agree with dkirtley about the 1/3 thing. Below is how I execute tough benches and worktables. I gave this advice to another person on another forum topic, I thought I would repeat the technique. Its based on using common dimensional lumber.

I buy Southern Yellow Pine at the Home Depot for benches. Its tough and it will harden over time till you almost can't put a nail into it. Technically although coniferous it's a hardwood. It also does quite well for the bench legs and stretchers, when laminated together.

I always used Faux mortise and tenons instead of milling them. For instance the legs. I would make a 5" x 5" leg. You take a 2" x 6" and rip to 5". Then laminate 3 of them for the leg. You leave gaps in the inside board that are exactly 5" wide. The gaps become mortises. Then when you make the rails you laminate 3 more boards the same way, except you make the middle board 10" longer than the outside…you then have an instant 5" tenon on each end of the board. They slip right into the mortises and I would usually just clamp them and drill a couple of holes for dowels. These are beautiful thru tenons. Disassemble, add some glue clamp them back up and drive in the dowels. My grand-father used this technique to build timber frame barns when I was a kid. It goes really, really fast and looks really cool.

Email me if my instructions were not clear and you want to try it.
 
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