Building The Holtzapffel Workbench #4: Update on the bench

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Blog entry by Mike Lingenfelter posted 03-07-2008 10:28 PM 4385 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Update on the base Part 4 of Building The Holtzapffel Workbench series Part 5: Gluing up the top »

There’s nothing like a pile of shavings on your shop floor.


I’ve been busy these last several weekends and haven’t had much time to work on the bench. This last weekend Dorje came by to help out. My plan was to start the glue-up of the top. After milling up the lumber and trying to cut around the knots, I wasn’t happy with how many knots were still showing through the top. I should have spent more time picking through the lumber the first time, lesson learned. At least the lumber is pretty cheap. It can be hard to find relatively clear lumber, when you are picking through 16’ boards, and trying to use construction grade lumber. It might have been easier if the lumber hard 8’ boards, but I guess there isn’t much call for 2×12x8’s. I just had them cut them to a manageable size. So Dorje and I went back and spent a little more time picking through the lumber and I think we found some good boards. I’m starting the milling process today. I’ll know how well we did by the end of the day.

We also spent time, last weekend, making the dowels for the mortise and tenons in the base. I didn’t take any pictures of this process, but if you look at my blog on the sharpening bench you will see how that was done. We made the dowels out of oak, which I had read was a wood use for draw boring. It has a straight grain, and can flex as it goes through the offset holes I used. We only had time to put one of the end assemblies together, before we were done for the day. So far it’s coming together pretty good.


We chamfered the edges to soften them and to keep them from splintering. We did this on the router table with a chamfer bit. I don’t have any dust collection set up for the router yet, but Dorje functioned as my dust collection buy holding the shopvac hose, and collected the dust. It was so effective, I really need to get that hooked up soon.

Here are some close-ups of the mortise and tenons with the dowels installed. I used draw bores on these joints to pull them together and to strengthen them. This is the second time I’ve used this technique and I just love it. I offset the holes on the tenons 3/32” towards the shoulder. I think I could have gone a full 1/8”, with the size of the mortise and tenons and the dowel, but 3/32” worked great. The dowels are 3/8” in diameter and about 2 ¾” long.


You can see how tight the pins pulled the joint together.


These joints are rock solid and are never going to move or come apart.

14 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4010 days

#1 posted 03-07-2008 11:05 PM

I miss Douglas Fir. All I get here is Southern Yello Pine.

Looks like you are making good progress. Keep us posted.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 4013 days

#2 posted 03-07-2008 11:27 PM

Looking really nice :) If I can get my jointer knives sorted out I’ll try and glue up my leg blanks this afternoon. The two vises from LV arrived this week too so I’m looking forward to getting this beast built :)

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3844 days

#3 posted 03-08-2008 12:03 AM

It looks like you are making very good progress on your bench. One of these is on my to do list (along with a lot of others) so I have been reading your posts with interest.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4136 days

#4 posted 03-08-2008 12:14 AM

I’ve been out in the shop milling up new lumber and it’s looking pretty good. I might still have to deal with a few small knots, but I may have a solution for the few that remain.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3984 days

#5 posted 03-08-2008 12:42 AM

draw bores work!! Good looking work.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4019 days

#6 posted 03-08-2008 12:55 AM

I’m a darn good dust collector! It’s really fun to see this bench go together…those joints are super. Seeing this in the flesh was really inspiring. And, having never made dowels before, that was a fun process too!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 4013 days

#7 posted 03-08-2008 01:09 AM

My question: Did you use Draw bore pins then hammer the dowels home or just the dowels?

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 4013 days

#8 posted 03-08-2008 01:11 AM


Looks like you have a great start. I was thinking I would start one of these benches out of Southern Yellow Pine.

I’m really looking forward to the glue-up of your top…..

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4136 days

#9 posted 03-08-2008 01:28 AM

Hey Dorje, I thought it would be funny and get a reaction out of you :).

Chris, yes I did use one of my draw bore pins to align and test the fit. I only have 1 that will work with the 3/8” hole I was using. I really need 2 or more to do it right. I guess I’ll have to make a couple more.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3790 days

#10 posted 03-08-2008 01:42 AM

those are very nice joints. just like you i don’t think those will ever come apart. can’t wait until the next installment.

View coolbreeze's profile


104 posts in 3757 days

#11 posted 03-08-2008 02:51 AM

Clean and strong. Nice looking bench so far.

-- Jason, AL

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 3956 days

#12 posted 03-08-2008 12:38 PM

I bet that bench is going to be rock-solid! Good looking joints.

-- Robb

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4073 days

#13 posted 03-08-2008 03:35 PM

That thing looks as solid as a rock.

-- Hope Never fails

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 3810 days

#14 posted 03-08-2008 08:11 PM

Great work, I love the draw bores and I really want to try this technique. Thanks for the link to the dowel making as well. Great stuff.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

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