Bowling Alley Workbench #5: Rain Rain go Away - Rail Rail Done Today

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 07-03-2009 10:58 PM 4946 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Look at them Legs... Part 5 of Bowling Alley Workbench series Part 6: There is more than 1 way to skin a cat - not so with bowling alley floors though - finally success »

July, and it was pouring rain here in Boston, MA. for the past week. go figure. (although today it cleared out which is really nice). but enough about the weather (as if this will stop us).

After completing the basic construction for the leg ends last installment. It was now the time to connect those with rails. The rails are 45” long with 2 1/2” tenon sticking on each side (to a total length of 50” – do the math). They are made of 2 2×4 that were jointed/planed as little as possible (to keep as much material, but get it flat) laminated together. All the tenons in this table are rounded off with chisels since I was too lazy to square off the mortises, and since there wasn’t really any visual need to square them, I kept it all round – fresh off the drill press.

As you can see, the front rail is extended with a 45 degree tongue that will hold a sliding vise later on (and perhaps a sliding deadman sooner).

the tenons were cut oversized with the bandsaw, and fitted with a block plane and chisels. last time I did this I felt like It would have been easier if I had a shoulder plane – but this time around it seems that using a block plane with a wide blade, makes more sense, and easier to overlap the strokes as opposed to a narrow shoulder blade- the only thing I’m left with at the end is a narrow strip near the shoulder that is easily cleaned with a chisel.

Now that the rails fit in the legs, it’s time to bore them for the bolts as I would like to be able to take this apart one day when I need to move it elsewhere.

I bored a 3/8” hole in the middle of the leg mortise and counter bored it from the outside (to conceal the bolt head). I then placed the rail in the mortise, and using a 1’ long, 3/8” drill bit bored the rail while maintaining alignment with the hole in the leg:

I haven’t seen anyone post anything online regarding this method of boring holes for leg bolts, so I figured I’d shed some light on the way I’m doing it. I’m using long drill bits for this purpose. these can be found in electric supplier, or might even be at the box-office-stores in the electric isle. these are specialty bits designed to drill inside walls between floors without having to break open the sheetrock. they come in length from 1’ to 6’, some more flexible, some less. for boring leg bolts, I use the shorter type (1 foot) and make sure they are not flexible so that they’ll keep a straight aligned line with the leg hole, and not flex sideways:

Once the legs were bored to take the bolts, I used to drill press to bore a perpendicular pocket hole to take the nut, and a washer. I didn’t really care much for the look of this hole as eventually it’ll be hidden under a shelf, so I didn’t put too much time into making it pretty- the only things that were looked for were functionality – keeping the shoulder of the hole flat and square to the rail (where the washer will be), and making sure the hole is small enough so it doesn’t take too much material off, but yet large enough to take the washer, and have some room to reach the nut. I actually made it large enough for future possibility of putting cross grain piece of wood in there if the washer is not enough. but for now – the washer is all I’m going to place in there:

I must say that the Drill press, and the Table I made for it played a major role in this project, and both performed really well and made things go smoothly and repeatedly, both on the horizontal plane, and on the vertical as well.

After all of that was done, I did some cleaning (scraping). I added masonite layer to the bottom of each leg (since I’m not too excited about having end-grain sitting on the concrete floor here), and chamfered the edges. put it all together for dry fitting, and since I really couldn’t resist – I man handled the bowling alley behemoth onto the legs.

I was able to use the floor and the legs as pivot points to lift the top on the legs, but there’s absolutely no way I can lift this thing up in the air – not even 1/8” off the floor… I’m not really sure how I’ll take this thing off to finish the legs as they are not glued yet, and I still need to mount the vise hardware in the right leg assembly. but for now – I couldn’t resist the chance to get a glimpse of how this thing will eventually look. to be honest, I didn’t realize how big this thing is going to be (80”x30”)... this is some major real estate to work on compared to my current 60”x24” workbench (which works great). I’ll just have to use some temporary staging while I take each separate leg end to work on… no worries.

oh well… time to get some rest as I conjure how to tackle the next step – getting those nails out… so not looking forward to this.

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

15 comments so far

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3458 days

#1 posted 07-03-2009 11:07 PM

Coming right along, Sharon. It is a great blog!
Love watching your progress as you wrestle with this.
I’m sure it will be a treasure…and outlive us all!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3699 days

#2 posted 07-03-2009 11:15 PM

Looks good so far.

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 3407 days

#3 posted 07-03-2009 11:16 PM

Now that’s starting to look like a bench!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3674 days

#4 posted 07-03-2009 11:40 PM

Thanks everyone… had some time to get a cup of coffee, and rest my palms and fingers from all the scraping, that was a LOT of scraping.

pat- I’m somewhat tall (5’11”) and have long arms. I designed the size based on how far I can easily reach without over-reaching , and rounded the number off to get 30”. currently my 24” bench works well, but when things start to accumulate on it- I’m not left with much room for the actual piece I’m working on. I figured ,I’ll have it a bit wider than what I have now, this way I can have the tools in the back, while I work on the piece in the front.

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

View Rog's profile


59 posts in 3784 days

#5 posted 07-03-2009 11:57 PM

Nice work and I like the fact that you use Dewalt Tools. some don’t like them but they make a big difference in my ability to work with wood and don’t kill my pocket book. Keep up the good work. Rog

-- I get out to the shop when Ryan lets me. Arggggggggggg

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 3717 days

#6 posted 07-03-2009 11:57 PM

Sharon thats looking to cool mate what are you using for your sides


-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 3780 days

#7 posted 07-04-2009 12:10 AM

Those are some good looking stems you made there! Man you really got it coming your way. Keep up the work and you will soon have one awesome bench!

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 3352 days

#8 posted 07-04-2009 12:23 AM

Nah…looks like to much. You need to have me come by and haul it away for Seriously…that is one nice bench….one for the grandkids to use some day !!!

-- Don S.E. OK

View a1Jim's profile


117119 posts in 3603 days

#9 posted 07-04-2009 04:52 AM

very cool

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View ryno101's profile


388 posts in 3690 days

#10 posted 07-04-2009 03:00 PM

Wow, that’s coming together quickly!!! Nice looking bench, and Ellen’s right, it will outlive us all!

Let me know when the final assembly’s happening, I’ll give a hand getting that ridiculously heavy chunk of lumber lifted.

-- Ryno

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3965 days

#11 posted 07-04-2009 03:27 PM

I have been following your work on this all along, but have not really commented because there’s very little I can say beyond, “Good Work”. Watching this come together is great.

-- Working at Woodworking

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3674 days

#12 posted 07-04-2009 05:07 PM

Thanks Guys :) I had some time this past week, so things moved along (mostly) as planned.

Pommy – the endcaps might be maple or walnut, or some other piece of yet to be identified lumber that I have lying around. the skirt is going to be maple.

Don – if you can lift it – be my guest… lol

Ryan – It’ll definitely outlive us all, I just hope then when we move it won’t decide to outlive us all and stay in it’s current location lol. as for final assembly – I’m not sure I’m going to be taking this top off, I might end up continuing all work with it on top of the legs. but I’ll let you know if I need help with it – Thanks!

Russel – Thanks. sometimes just acknowledging something is all the comment one needs ;)

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

View Jon3's profile


497 posts in 4131 days

#13 posted 07-04-2009 09:22 PM

Winchester is like right next door. I can come over and help you knock that off the legs.

View Jon3's profile


497 posts in 4131 days

#14 posted 07-04-2009 09:23 PM

Also, did you see the wedge technique I used to get my legs out? Do you have some sawhorses?

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3674 days

#15 posted 07-05-2009 07:16 AM

Thanks Jon – I appreciate it. right now there are no mortises in the top yet, it just sits on the legs tenons – so no need for wedges to pry it apart – but It’s a great method, and I may use it in the future when in need. I don’t have sawhorses (well, I do – but they are plastic , and in no way can support this 400+lbs top.) but I do have some 4×4 douglas fir that I’ll use as temporary legs while I take each leg for final treatments, and glueup.

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

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