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Bench Top Questions - Lap Joint w/ Dowels to Extend Boards?

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Forum topic by Thomas C. posted 01-11-2022 08:19 PM 736 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Thomas C.

8 posts in 171 days


01-11-2022 08:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bench top lap joint work bench question joining

Hi, new to LumberJocks but have been pursuing fine(ish) woodworking for a couple years in a small 8×8 shed with some limited successes. Just moved to a new house with a 16×10 room in the basement which is begging for a new workbench inside.

Prices for wood around me haven’t really dropped, following the plans for a Schwarz KD Nicholson puts me at almost $200 just in lumber alone, add a face vise, some holdfasts, hardware, and suddenly we’re approaching $400-450. Not really a big surprise but with a young family and new house costs I’m apprehensive to spend too much; even my wife is telling me to just buy the wood and stop worrying which is a twist I wasn’t expecting.

On the local buy and sell there are 3”x3”x50” nondescript hardwood boards for sale at $3 a pop (my eye says they’re maple but I could be wrong), apparently the seller gets it for free from work and just wants some pocket money.

Does anyone see glaring issues if I were to lap joint and dowel these boards together for a 72” bench top? Obviously I’d offset the joints to either end and avoid drilling dog holes into the joints.

Cheers!


7 replies so far

View Foghorn's profile

Foghorn

1535 posts in 880 days


#1 posted 01-11-2022 11:05 PM

Staggered and edge glued will be plenty strong. No need for lap joints or dowels.

-- Darrel

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Loren

11550 posts in 5141 days


#2 posted 01-12-2022 01:25 AM

My bench is made of scrap cherry I got (I think) for free at an estate sale and a salvaged maple sandwich shop cutting board, about 5’ long with “scrap” walnut end caps. I used doug fir construction lumber for the trestle base. It works fine and looks good though. The important thing is that it’s solid. If you’re like a lot of us you’ll occasionally do something dumb like sawing or drilling into the bench and spilling finishes and stains on it. Marks from flattening will pick up stain more and the bench will develop a spotted and mottled appearance. If you can make a hardwood bench with scrap you’ll be ahead of the game imo compared to the 2×4 benches that have become popular in recent years.

One tip is don’t thickness sand the bench to flatten it. It won’t stay flat anyway (mine is sway backed currently) and the sander will embed grit which will dull your plane irons when it comes time to flatten it again.

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HokieKen

22004 posts in 2632 days


#3 posted 01-12-2022 02:10 AM



Staggered and edge glued will be plenty strong. No need for lap joints or dowels.

- Foghorn


+1 In a bench top, the edge glue will hold the butt ends together. I’d glue the ends together during the glue up but wouldn’t worry with dowels or laps.

The exception may be the front and back pieces since they won’t be “sandwiched”. Lap joints may be a good idea on those faces.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

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Thomas C.

8 posts in 171 days


#4 posted 01-12-2022 01:56 PM

Thank you everyone for the quick replies, once I get some room I’ll start the fun.

The exception may be the front and back pieces since they won’t be “sandwiched”. Lap joints may be a good idea on those faces.

- HokieKen

Hokie I think I’ll use the laps for the outer boards like you suggested, it’ll just help keep things together and one less thing to fiddle with.

View Sylvain's profile

Sylvain

1684 posts in 3993 days


#5 posted 01-13-2022 10:35 AM



Staggered and edge glued will be plenty strong. No need for lap joints or dowels.

- Foghorn

I have done it like that for the two workbenches I have done.
Although I have full length boards at the front and back of the workbench-top.
I would have posted a picture but it is not really visible when flattened.
Just avoid but joints at the same place for two consecutive layers.

To have nice but joint, I have clamped the two boards one end against the other end and sawed between them (repeat as necessary if not nice enough after the first pass).

The workbench-tops were glued one layer at a time.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn (and that is nice)

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Lazyman

9776 posts in 2881 days


#6 posted 01-13-2022 10:30 PM

When including shorter boards in my workbench top glue up, the problem that I had was keeping ends butted together and preventing one or both from sagging slightly. I did this just just to keep them together during the glue up. There is not glue in the joint. The dowel is slightly oversized for the hole so that it pushesthe ends tighter together.

Not really necessary but made for a less stressful glue up and less planing later. Took me longer to get the proportions right than to cut by hand.

-- 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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Sylvain

1684 posts in 3993 days


#7 posted 01-14-2022 11:28 AM



Not really necessary but made for a less stressful glue up and less planing later.
- Lazyman

Gluing one layer at a time makes it non-stressing when gluing staggered boards.
It just needs a little bit more time (doing something else while the glue is curing) but as most of us have been procrastinating a long time before starting, where is the sudden hurry?

Chris Schwarz like to glue everything in one pass; I don’t see the necessity of it.
Furthermore it means one needs very strong/heavy clamps and straight boards.
Gluing one layer at a time means the next board is flexible enough to conform to what is already glued and one only needs light clamps. Of course I start with the straightest boards for the first layers. The only thing I do before gluing is ensure the gluing edges are clean, without cup or bow. The board don’t even have the same height. I only try to align what will be the top of the workbench-top.


view of the bottom before planing:
butt joints visible (due to inconsistant height, flush on the other side) in the 4th and 5th layer from the right

planing the bottom:

Butt joints are now hardly visible.
Brown lines are remains of stained rounded corner as those boards come from an upcycled pick-nic bench. Not important for the bottom.

Now, of course, if one’s boards a very near the desired bench-top thickness, one has to work more cautiously.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn (and that is nice)

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