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What is the purpose of the joinery on the apron of this Nicholson bench?

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Forum topic by Tony Ennis posted 02-23-2019 02:27 AM 945 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Tony Ennis

132 posts in 3432 days


02-23-2019 02:27 AM

Just like the subject says. Look at the angled cut at the apron and leg intersection here:

https://www.theenglishwoodworker.com/the-english-tradition/

And look here:

http://www.workbenchdiary.com/2014/02/a-portable-nicholson-bench-from-scrap.html

top image. Look close and you can see the same joinery.

What is this for??

-- Tony


17 replies so far

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Woodknack

12631 posts in 2676 days


#1 posted 02-23-2019 03:34 AM

IMO there is no purpose other than someone is showing off their joinery skills. Theoretically there might be a benefit but practically there is none.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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CWWoodworking

301 posts in 475 days


#2 posted 02-23-2019 03:44 AM

Its actually not that good of design. Pushed in the right direction, and the joint has little strength. A dovetail would be much better.

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BFamous

299 posts in 417 days


#3 posted 02-23-2019 04:05 AM

It’s portable, so the angle let’s you know which side goes where…

Seriously though, IMHO, the joinery is to save a single or two cut per leg. The angle cut on the 4×4 is only as deep as the apron – not the entire depth of the 4×4. So the angles on both legs “lock” the apron in place, and by them being slanted only require two cuts of the apron instead of three per leg if you were going to do square cuts. I wouldn’t say they are to show off joinery skis since they are fairly simple. Though I would say they do also look fancier than square cuts.

-- Brian Famous :: Charlotte, NC :: http://www.FamousArtisan.com

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BFamous

299 posts in 417 days


#4 posted 02-23-2019 04:06 AM

It’s portable, so the angle let’s you know which side goes where…

Seriously though, IMHO, the joinery is to save a single or two cut per leg. The angle cut on the 4×4 is only as deep as the apron – not the entire depth of the 4×4. So the angles on both legs “lock” the apron in place, and by them being slanted only require two cuts of the apron instead of three per leg if you were going to do square cuts. I wouldn’t say they are to show off joinery skis since they are fairly simple. Though I would say they do also look fancier than square cuts.

-- Brian Famous :: Charlotte, NC :: http://www.FamousArtisan.com

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CWWoodworking

301 posts in 475 days


#5 posted 02-23-2019 04:16 AM


So the angles on both legs “lock” the apron in

- BFamous

Not really. If it were totally dependent on the angled joint, it would fold very easily if you pushed on one end of it. Obviously, there is more to the joint than the angle.

At any rate, if you want to copy a design like that, use a dovetail. much stronger.

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Lazyman

3064 posts in 1683 days


#6 posted 02-23-2019 04:24 AM

I’m with Brian. I think that it is just easier than cutting out a square notch. 2 cuts and a little clean up with the chisel instead of 2 or more cuts and chop out the waste and then clean up with the chisel.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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TraditionallySpeakin

11 posts in 37 days


#7 posted 02-23-2019 04:25 AM

I have to believe that the joint on that apron on Richard’s (English Woodworker) bench is to help with the racking stresses while pushing against the top while planing. I can’t imagine Richard would add anything to his bench builds that were purely for looks.

-- “If not for Roubo, the back of the U.S. nickle would be blank.” -Roy U.

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CWWoodworking

301 posts in 475 days


#8 posted 02-23-2019 04:32 AM



I have to believe that the joint on that apron on Richard’s (English Woodworker) bench is to help with the racking stresses while pushing against the top while planing. I can’t imagine Richard would add anything to his bench builds that were purely for looks.

- TraditionallySpeakin

The thing that doesn’t make sense is that if you are pushing in one direction, one set of joinery has very little strength. Now obviously there is a shoulder behind that angle that provides extra strength. But a dovetail + shoulder joint would be much more substantial, regardless of planeing direction.

Not that I really care, I wouldn’t hand plane wood if you paid me good moneys. :)

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TraditionallySpeakin

11 posts in 37 days


#9 posted 02-23-2019 04:37 AM

The thing that doesn t make sense is that if you are pushing in one direction, one set of joinery has very little strength. Now obviously there is a shoulder behind that angle that provides extra strength. But a dovetail + shoulder joint would be much more substantial, regardless of planeing direction.

Not that I really care, I wouldn t hand plane wood if you paid me good moneys. :)

- CWWoodworking

I guess the idea is that the pressure of the racking would sort of concentrate into that pointy end of the joinery on the opposite side of where you are standing (in the direction of the pushing)??

-- “If not for Roubo, the back of the U.S. nickle would be blank.” -Roy U.

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builtinbkyn

2905 posts in 1237 days


#10 posted 02-23-2019 04:55 AM

I would think the angle shoulder on the leg joint is to counter lateral wracking when planing. In order for the bench to move laterally, or in the direction of planing, it would also have to rise up. The weight of the bench and the downward force of working on the top would prevent that.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn & Steel City :)

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TraditionallySpeakin

11 posts in 37 days


#11 posted 02-23-2019 04:59 AM



it would also have to rise up.

- builtinbkyn

That sounds pretty good to me.

-- “If not for Roubo, the back of the U.S. nickle would be blank.” -Roy U.

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Lazyman

3064 posts in 1683 days


#12 posted 02-23-2019 05:04 AM

If you look at the second picture, you can see that the side boards have a dado that locks into the legs which would provide the lateral , anti-racking strength. He could have simply used a square shoulder with no notch at all and it would not go anywhere. I suppose that means that he wanted some sort of aesthetic joinery to make it look nice. In the other link, instead of a dado, it appears they used dowels or loose tenons so perhaps it simply aids in alignment and is easier to cut that a square notch.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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CWWoodworking

301 posts in 475 days


#13 posted 02-23-2019 05:07 AM



I would think the angle shoulder on the leg joint is to count lateral wracking when planing. In order for the bench to move laterally, or in the direction of planing, it would also have to rise up. The weight of the bench and the downward force of working on the top would prevent that.

- builtinbkyn

Build a bench with just the angle as the joinery. It will have very little strength. build same thing with a dovetail and it is has a lot of strength. Shoulder joint adds a ton of strength to either.

But it doesnt change the fact that a dovetail is much stronger. either direction.

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TraditionallySpeakin

11 posts in 37 days


#14 posted 02-23-2019 05:32 AM


Build a bench with just the angle as the joinery. It will have very little strength. build same thing with a dovetail and it is has a lot of strength. Shoulder joint adds a ton of strength to either.

But it doesnt change the fact that a dovetail is much stronger. either direction.

- CWWoodworking

Richard built that bench as a quick bench for beginners so this joinery is just more appropriate for the application is all.

-- “If not for Roubo, the back of the U.S. nickle would be blank.” -Roy U.

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CWWoodworking

301 posts in 475 days


#15 posted 02-23-2019 05:58 AM


Richard built that bench as a quick bench for beginners so this joinery is just more appropriate for the application is all.

- TraditionallySpeakin

It actually still makes no sense. As seen, there is one angle. A dovetail is also one angle, just reversed. Being that a dovetail is parallel to wood it is joining, one could argue a dovetail would be easier to teach. Vs the old angle shown.

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