Hand tool workbench #4: Stretchers

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Blog entry by brianl posted 10-30-2010 03:00 PM 2836 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Finishing the End Assemblies Part 4 of Hand tool workbench series Part 5: Building the top »

Now that the end assemblies are finished, it’s time to see about getting the stretchers rigged up. They use a home-made bed bolt system that consists of a bolt that goes through the leg and into the stretcher where you make a mortise to receive a nut. In retrospect I should have just ordered bed bolts from Highland Woodworking. For more info on bed bolt joints, see this Fine Woodworking article.

Here you can see the mortises and the nuts that went into them. I used a forstner bit on my drill press to made the mortise. I thought about using my dedicated mortiser, but since I was working with a fairly shallow piece of wood (the stretchers are only 1.5 inches thick) I wanted the clean sides and bottom that a forstner creates.

I also recessed the bolt heads for a more finished look. Here you can see the completed joint.

Now, from the top where you can also see the pegged joints (before I trimmed the pegs).

After I got all of the joints assembled (it’s so easy to say that, but it took me days of after-work work to do it!), it was time to start thinking about the lower shelf. Had I been using a table saw, ripping a piece of stock would have been trivial. However, since I was trying to avoid power tools as much as possible, I broke out my ripping saw and got to work. My initial cuts were not perfectly straight so I ended up planing down the pieces. I created a register for the bottom shelf:

And for the top.

Finally, a shot of the lower shelving going in…

Next, on to the top!

-- Brian - Belmont, Massachusetts

3 comments so far

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3113 days

#1 posted 10-30-2010 05:03 PM

Nice looking bench, should be sturdy and be able to support a lot of work and enjoyment. Another method
of bolting would be to use a barrel nut, if you can not find the size you need, I have made them by cutting
the shank of a bolt and drilling and tapping the bolt hole. A hacksaw will make a nice slot in the end so you
can align the threaded hole with the bolt. May you have many happy hours in the workshop.

As ever, Gus the 71 yr young laborer, trying to become a carpenters apprentice.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View knotfree's profile


13 posts in 4307 days

#2 posted 10-30-2010 05:22 PM

Brian, I did mine the exact same way. The tenon keeps it aligned, and once you snug up the bolts, its rock solid. Nice job!

-- Pete

View DavidH's profile


519 posts in 3770 days

#3 posted 10-31-2010 02:05 AM

Base turned out good, what are you planning to make the top out of?

-- David - Houston, Texas. (

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