Hand tool workbench #6: Tool rail and Leveling

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Blog entry by brianl posted 12-26-2010 11:52 PM 4155 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Building the top Part 6 of Hand tool workbench series Part 7: Front Vise & Shelving »

Since I got the top basically put together, it was time to worry about attaching a tool rail and leveling the bench.

I constructed the levelers from four hockey pucks. I drilled a recess in them and epoxied in a bolt by the head. I then drilled a matching recess in each leg and epoxied a nut in each leg. By spinning the hockey puck the bolt will move in and out, helping to level the bench.

To add stability to the system I also added a washer to the bolt head and epoxied that to the puck as well. Hopefully it will distribute the weight of the bench more.

I also decided to go ahead and attach the tool rail to the bench. I crosscut another piece of douglas fir to 48”. I then created the spacers by ripping a 1/2” wide strip with my hand saw, cutting it into 6 4” chunks, smoothing it with a number 4 plane, and then attaching it to the previously mentioned piece. Doing so established a 1/2” slot along one side for me to rest chisels, saws, squares, etc… in while I worked. Very handy.

Finally, I also took this time to bore the bench dog holes. I did so with a 3/4” auger bit and a hand brace. I learned that I had to clamp a scrap piece of wood to the bottom while doing this, otherwise the bit would make a mess when it punched through to the other side.

I did the boring while the bench top was still not quite smooth. If there was any tearout I wanted to clean it up when I smoothed out the top. For most of the top I put the dog holes 4” apart from each other. I only placed them where I thought they would be useful. I can always come back later and add more holes – it’s kind of hard to remove unnecessary ones though. I placed a series of them right where the shoulder vise and the front vise are. I figure those should get the majority of the use.

Up next, finishing up the leveling of the top and starting to attach the vises!

-- Brian - Belmont, Massachusetts

7 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3677 days

#1 posted 12-27-2010 12:17 AM

looking good. Don’t forget after the benchtop is flat and smooth to chamfer all those bench holes – the sharp edge can really do damage while planing to your hands (don’t ask me how I know)

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

View DrewM's profile


176 posts in 3028 days

#2 posted 12-27-2010 12:39 AM

I like the tool rail, might have to add something like that to mine

-- Drew, Delaware

View Marc5's profile


304 posts in 3371 days

#3 posted 12-27-2010 01:34 AM

I put a 24” tool rail on my bench and it is handy. The bench is looking great. I hope you post pics of it finished.

-- Marc

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 2865 days

#4 posted 12-27-2010 02:43 AM

Inspiring man. I am rethinking my workbench for the sake of improved clamping/planing, sawing…

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View brianl's profile


108 posts in 3110 days

#5 posted 12-27-2010 03:32 AM

Thanks guys, I’m glad you all enjoyed it. I’ll make sure to post some photos once it is done.


Thanks for the tip! I’ll make sure to do that.

-- Brian - Belmont, Massachusetts

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

267 posts in 3217 days

#6 posted 12-27-2010 05:20 PM

Adding a tool rail was one of the best things I’ve done to my bench. I can’t understand why it isn’t “standard” in every bench design!

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 3464 days

#7 posted 01-12-2011 07:55 AM

I love that chisel or “tool rail” Thats a great idea, now the scharp tools do not bang against one another! This is one of the most innovative ideas for tool holding on the bench that I have yet seen!

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

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