Workbench #13: Leg Assemblies Complete

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Blog entry by HungryTermite posted 02-01-2012 07:56 AM 6543 reads 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 12: Laminating the Top Part 13 of Workbench series no next part

Now that I know what the actual width of the top will be (23 1/2 inches by the way) I was able to cut the short stretchers that connect the front and back legs:

I decided to try to drawbore the legs with 3/8” pegs since the short stretchers will be attached permanently. I had already drilled the holes in the legs so all that was left to do was to mark the location on the tenon so the holes could be drilled.

I couldn’t get the stretcher all the way into the mortise for some reason so I measured the gap at the shoulder and took that into account when I shifted the holes before drilling. The total shift was just over 1/8 inch. This seems excessive but the wood is soft and there was a gap that needed to be pulled out.

Next step is to make some pegs using a dowel plate. This was an interesting task and wasn’t quite as easy (for me) as everyone makes it look in the videos I tracked down on iTunes and youtube. Quartersawn white oak seems to be the peg material of choice and the conventional wisdom is to riv the wood along the grain to make the strongest pegs. Well, I apparently have no idea what that means because when I tried to do it I ended up with a mess:

I started off completely wrong. When I finally did manage to get a piece big enough for a peg I thought that by starting off with the largest hole in the plate and working my way down to 3/8 inch that I would be fine. This doesn’t work at all and it wasn’t even really possible to get the raw stock through the final hole. At this point I changed tactics to something a little less silly. I ripped the quartersawn oak to a hair over 3/8 inch wide. The stock was 1/2 inch thick so I planed it down to just over 3/8 inch thick. Now I had a square that was about 3/8×3/8. With my block plane I took the corners off until I had an octagon shape that was only slightly larger than the dowel I wanted:

I sharpened the end using a pencil sharpener for a carpenters pencil so it would start easily through the dowel plate:

The other thing I was doing wrong was that I was just trying to hold the dowel plate over a hole in one of the legs. This proved to be very difficult. The plate moved around a lot and it was hard to hold the peg material vertically. The obvious solution was to stop being lazy and come up with a mounting block for the plate and to drill a hole in the block that was just over 3/8 inch:

Now it was easy to load up a peg blank and whack at it with a hammer. The hole in the mounting block supported the pegs very well as they went through:

Since they were well supported I ended up with some very straight pegs:

I didn’t select the piece of oak I used very well. I think it was probably more rift sawn than quartersawn and the grain wasn’t all that straight. I knew when I was trying to make a dowel from the wrong section of the wood when the grain orientation caused the dowel to splinter while I was trying to drive it through the dowel plate. This happened on a few attempts:

Next it was time to throw some glue on the tenons and insert them in the legs and then glue and drive the dowels in. I was getting excited at this point and I actually forgot to put some glue on two of the dowels but I really don’t think the pegs are ever going to come out:

One leg assembly complete!

And two leg assemblies complete!

The dowels really did a good job of pulling the joints tight:

I probably should have picked up a flush cut saw before I got to this point but I will trim the dowels and plane them flush.

Somehow on one of the leg assemblies I ended up with either a crooked mortise or a crooked tenon because the back leg and the front leg are not quite parallel. The difference is slight and I can pull it into square when I mark the top and install the legs so I am not too worried about it, yet.

Next step is to adjust the fit of the long stretchers and complete the entire base assembly. Then I can mark the locations of the mortises on the top and figure out how the heck I am going to cut those out. I have to admit that at this point in the project I am really intimidated by the through dovetail/mortise joints. I have a few fallback plans in case things don’t go according to plan but I am hoping not to have to put them into action.

-- Good Judgement Comes From Experience. Experience Comes From Bad Judgement.

13 comments so far

View Maveric777's profile


2693 posts in 3311 days

#1 posted 02-01-2012 03:06 PM

Very cool! Nice to see projects like this coming to be and the ups & downs with their construction. I can see where certain parts can become a little intimidating, but that seems to be the parts I learn the most from personally. I got a feeling you are going to look back at this beauty with tons of fond memories for many… many years to come.

Remind me once again about the material you are using. It is all construction grade lumber right? Think that is what has impressed me the most about your handy work here. You are shaping this into one fine bench and giving me a ton of inspiration to get off my butt and try one myself… Thank you for that…

Look forward to seeing more down the line.

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View DIYaholic's profile


19738 posts in 2909 days

#2 posted 02-01-2012 03:37 PM

Fantastic build! Great job documenting ALL the steps. It is very motivating. I need to make a work table, I don’t have the confidence, or the time to make a proper “Woodworking Bench”. But this gives me the “Kick in the A$$” that I so desperately need, perhaps I need to “slow down” and at least build a suitable bench.

Thanks, for taking the time to photograph & document your progress.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Ken90712's profile


17614 posts in 3423 days

#3 posted 02-01-2012 07:44 PM

Great job on the progress and overcoming the challenage’s in any project. I wish i had room for a proper work bench inmy shop. Keep up the great work bud!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 3946 days

#4 posted 02-01-2012 08:10 PM

nice. I’ve had some difficulty in making oak pegs off of the same dowel plate as you. Sometimes Oak isn’t exactly the grain you were expecting.

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

View HungryTermite's profile


90 posts in 3284 days

#5 posted 02-02-2012 06:49 AM

Thanks everyone for the encouragement!

@Maveric777: It’s all 4×6 and 6×6 Douglas Fir from Lowes or Home Depot (See Part 5 of the series)

-- Good Judgement Comes From Experience. Experience Comes From Bad Judgement.

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

267 posts in 3423 days

#6 posted 02-02-2012 10:49 PM

Very interesting. Is it typical to glue drawbore pegs? My (possibly incorrect) understanding was that the mechanical tension was sufficient.

View HungryTermite's profile


90 posts in 3284 days

#7 posted 02-03-2012 08:52 PM

I’m not sure what is typical Scott. It just seemed like a good idea at the time. On the two that I didnt put glue on, I doubt I could ever get them out unless I drilled them out.

-- Good Judgement Comes From Experience. Experience Comes From Bad Judgement.

View JerseyEngineer's profile


5 posts in 1379 days

#8 posted 04-08-2015 04:45 PM

This is unbelievable. I wanted to see if you would be kind enough to share your CAD model with those of us who don’t want to “reinvent the wheel”!

View HungryTermite's profile


90 posts in 3284 days

#9 posted 04-10-2015 03:28 AM

Ugh… This reminds me that I am still not finished with it! Life has interrupted this project for a while but I am working on a garage remodel that will hopefully let me get up and running.

JerseyEngineer, if you PM me your email address or a drop box location I can send you a STEP file of my model.

-- Good Judgement Comes From Experience. Experience Comes From Bad Judgement.

View JerseyEngineer's profile


5 posts in 1379 days

#10 posted 04-10-2015 04:46 PM

HungryTermite – I cannot actually send a private message in this board unless I post five times… This is number two.

View JerseyEngineer's profile


5 posts in 1379 days

#11 posted 04-10-2015 04:49 PM

hungryTermite – Number three – I am not sure if I’ve ever used a step file… I had a laser scan done of an existing building once and I vaguely recall it being done in Katia (SP) and potentially being a step file. I have auto cad /014, sketch up make 2015 and navisworks manage 2015.

View JerseyEngineer's profile


5 posts in 1379 days

#12 posted 04-10-2015 04:50 PM

HungryTermite – number four – my intent is to take your model, slightly modify dimensions for my use and make fab drawings that I can build from

View JerseyEngineer's profile


5 posts in 1379 days

#13 posted 04-10-2015 04:51 PM

HungryTermite – number five – I will PM you my email address now…. Sorry for trolling your page

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