A Workbench's Progress #10: The Mother of Invention

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Blog entry by TheGravedigger posted 07-11-2007 09:18 PM 1987 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 9: Cutting Tenons the Old-Fashioned Way (sort of...) Part 10 of A Workbench's Progress series Part 11: The End's in Sight! »

Sometimes you can stare at a problem with a project for days (or longer) before a solution comes to you. In my case, the solution often comes at the oddest times and places. In this case, I was sitting at work performing a calculation when the light bulb went on.

I was having problems with drilling the mortises in my workbench legs. The legs were long and heavy and my drill press table is small. This was made worse by the fact that most of the mortises were located near the ends of the legs. This made holding the legs steady on the table difficult. I could clamp them in place, of course, but I needed to be able to slide them back and forth as I made the mortises. Help from the family was erratic at best, and I was stuck for a ready solution.

As I said, I was sitting at work calculating a dose when, out of the blue, the following design hit me:

Drill press helper.

A simple solution. Three 2×4 sections finish-nailed together in the shape of an “F”, and attached to a sawhorse with clamps. The extended horizontal piece allowed me to extend the support over the bench that the drill press rests on. Height and level were adjusted by loosening the clamps slightly and tapping with a mallet, and the leg had plenty of support while allowing for easy movement back and forth. This made even the middle legs easy to handle:

The support in use.

I realize that there are far better and more permanent solutions, but this simple arrangement got me over the hump of the moment. And, when I was through, the pieces would be recycled into cross-braces for the loft joists.

The point of this discourse on a crude project is that problems don’t necessarily have to be solved by a trip to the box store or an online order. Sometimes, a little scrap wood and imagination are all that’s necessary. Oh yes, it helps to keep a few 2×4’s handy!

All 26 mortises have now been drilled. The next step will be to square up the ends of the holes. I know some swear by rounding the tenons, but this way works better for me with a fixed tenon:

Ready for the chisel.

I guess I better sharpen my chisel and get busy.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

3 comments so far

View markrules's profile


146 posts in 4139 days

#1 posted 07-11-2007 09:29 PM

Square the mortices or round over the tenons… it’s work either way.

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1809 posts in 4110 days

#2 posted 07-12-2007 03:45 AM

I’m always slapping together helpers. I cut some small notches (3.5” wide) in the side of my wood rack. Each is located to be level with a particular table/tool combo. I can pull out a 3’ 2×4 and clamp it into the notch for a quick hand in holding unwieldy/long items.

Squaring the mortices is the fun part…:)

-- Bob

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4335 days

#3 posted 07-12-2007 10:46 PM

Nice solution to your problem and a simple one at that. Those are the best kind.

-- Jesus is Lord!

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