First Workbench #4: Mortising the top, adding holding accessories, and final glue up

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Blog entry by NicholasS posted 11-22-2012 01:28 AM 5196 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: The Base Part 4 of First Workbench series no next part

When mortising the top I did not make a mortise going all the way through the top but only about 2 inches deep. I chopped out one of the mortises but drilled out the other three.

I think I might have gotten a slightly nicer looking mortise by just using a chisel, but it was much faster to drill out the waste and chisel out whatever was left.

Next, I installed the vise. I cut a recess into the front of the bench and the idea was that the back face of the vise would then be flush with the front of the bench but I cut too much out but it should still work ok.

Finally, I drilled some dog holes/holdfast holes in the front and back of the bench top, in the two front legs, and three holes aligned vertically with the vise dog.

The last step was to glue up the base and put the top on. I did not glue the top to the base to make it easier to transport. This bench took me a lot longer than I ever thought it would, but I finished it, and it was done almost entirely with hand tools.

6 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3649 days

#1 posted 11-22-2012 02:03 AM

very nice work!

those mortises in the top (and the entire bench) are HUGE, they don’t have to look too pretty as they are hidden (top) – as long as they provide enough friction to keep the workbench together they are perfect. drilling them is much faster, and with proper planning, you can drill out most material leaving enough left over to clean up with a chisel to still keep it nice and crisp…. practice makes perfect. so far this looks really good. how tall is this workbench? it looks somewhere around 36-40” from the picture but it could be deceiving…

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View NicholasS's profile


23 posts in 2355 days

#2 posted 11-22-2012 02:17 AM

It’s 36 inches tall. I read up a lot about how tall to make a hand tool work bench and heard lots of suggestions on how to come up with the hight but ended up making it a little taller than I thought I would need it. That way if it is too tall I can always cut the legs a little shorter. I didn’t want to make it too short and have no way of fixing it.

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3649 days

#3 posted 11-22-2012 02:22 AM

you can always raise a workbench up by placing blocks under each leg.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View MarkSr's profile


215 posts in 2051 days

#4 posted 11-22-2012 01:22 PM

NicholasS, great job, a lot of work with just hand tools but also twice the enjoyment and satisfaction.
Enjoy, you will never forget this, your first work bench.

Good Luck and happy wood working.

-- Mark, ”...NEWBEE: On the road to learning a lot; but; a lot more to learn…” ("My Granddad used to tell me, if you didn't learn something new today, it just wasn't worth getting out of bed")

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2147 days

#5 posted 11-23-2012 05:00 PM

Looks good. You might want to consider adding a face plate to the back of your vise to bring it flush with the bench edge. That will allow you to hold wide boards much easier. A wood block with a few rare earth magnets embedded would work fine.


View NicholasS's profile


23 posts in 2355 days

#6 posted 11-25-2012 02:40 AM

There are holes in the back of the vise to drill in a face plate and that was my original idea and will probably be what I will do.

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