Joining Large Slabs For Workbench Top

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Forum topic by qball posted 12-17-2013 08:36 PM 4458 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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49 posts in 4210 days

12-17-2013 08:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: joining slabs workbench

I am currently designing and building a new workbench. The design is based on the Holzapfel style bench form Chris Schwarz Workbenches book, however I will be using the Benchcrafted crisscross leg vice verses the twin screw face vice as shown in the book. The leg’s and aprons are made up from ash and I’m planning on using 2 – 3” thick 12” wide slabs of sapele for the top. Fortunately I have a buddy who has a 12” wide jointer and an monster planner that is willing to help me mill the slabs square and flat. I am pretty sure I will be able to get a minimum 2 ¾” thick top after the milling process. I am wondering the best method of joining the 2 large slabs for ultimate durability. I have considered using 2 – ½” splines ½” from the top and from the bottom to join the two slabs together, but I have also wondering if this is overkill as you always hear that the glue is stronger than the wood itself. So should I just glue them up, use the splines, cut them up and laminate them, or something totally different. Just looking for a second opinion.

8 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17325 posts in 3702 days

#1 posted 12-17-2013 08:46 PM

From what I’ve read (and concur with too, BTW), there’s NO additional strength to be gained by doing this BUT I’d use biscuits 1) because I have the machine that cuts for them, and 2) to align the two pieces for glue-up.

Having those pieces slide around would be a colossal pain.

I have a bench that’s a single slab, just under 3” thick, and I used 3x material front and back to deal with a ‘live edge’ issue the material had. I used biscuits to align the glue-up.

Based on what you’ve considered, one spline would be enough and I’d use it from the bottom to give yourself a lifetime of benchtop material to flatten and abuse.

EDIT: Added the word ‘no’ above.

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

View UpstateNYdude's profile


965 posts in 3067 days

#2 posted 12-17-2013 08:49 PM

I never understood why everyone likes to use expensive woods for workbench tops but I digress, why not rip the two into thinner pieces so it’s easier to edge glue up rather then using two large pieces, I realize you’ll lose wood to the kerf but just seems way easier then trying to dick around with a weird joining method that may or may not work.

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

View Texcaster's profile


1293 posts in 2758 days

#3 posted 12-17-2013 09:27 PM

When I made my last bench I started with 8in & 9in plain sawn euro beech. I cut them in half and alternated the grain to help with stability. It doesn’t look as flash but it works.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View TaybulSawz's profile


186 posts in 2766 days

#4 posted 12-17-2013 09:35 PM

I’d center cut a 1” deep x 23/32” (that’s how thick 3/4” ply wood is today) wide dado and use a 3/4” (23/32) x 2” piece of plywood as the spline. I’d use epoxy for the joint. That’s my 2¢!!

-- Still got all my Fingers!!!

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 3445 days

#5 posted 12-17-2013 09:42 PM

Gee, if you think they’re gonna come apart, why not set loose 1” threaded rod, epoxied across the joint every four inches!

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View shampeon's profile


2167 posts in 3267 days

#6 posted 12-17-2013 09:46 PM

The splines or biscuits would only be for alignment, which is still a good idea. Jointing the edge is hard, but doable if you know what you’re doing. Hopefully your buddy does.

I didn’t use a power jointer to laminate my top, which uses a slab in the middle and surrounded by other boards. I used my Millers Falls 24 jointer plane, and some chalk to find the high spots. Find the parts with chalk, plane them down a bit. Repeat until the joint line is tight.

If I were you, I’d only get it marginally flat until the tops are laminated. You’re going to lose some thickness removing cups or high spots. Then use a hand plane to do a final flattening.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Woodendeavor's profile


276 posts in 3690 days

#7 posted 12-17-2013 09:50 PM

Sounds like the perfect excuse to get a Festool Domino XL to me…

View qball's profile


49 posts in 4210 days

#8 posted 12-17-2013 10:26 PM

Yea I would love to get a Domino but that’s not happening anytime soon. I may just go with the biscuits for alignment and call it a day. Thanks for the advice.

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