Workbench #3: Base

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Blog entry by john2005 posted 03-12-2014 07:30 PM 1592 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Top assembly Part 3 of Workbench series Part 4: The Finale »

Been awhile since I updated this. Hard to find time with a 2yr old and another on the way. Always trying to balance the time. Then of course the holidays came where all I did was make Christmas gifts. I had hoped to have this all wrapped up by the first of the year and here it is march and I’m not done. Close though.

So the guy I got the birch from had already made 2 legs. They were 4” square and about 40” long. I was wanting to go with 5” legs but since 2 were already made, I decided to use them. I couldn’t think of anything else to use them on. I put them in the back and made 2 more for the front that were 5×4. I then shouldered the front legs so that the tenons would all look the same from the top. Not standard, but so far that’s the theme. I had decided to tackle the double through tenon which was easier then I thought for the tenon side. The mortise side put up a fight. It may have helped if I had some actual mortise chisels. All I have are a set of the Narex bench chisels. They are good enough chisels but they were in way over their head. I became real familiar with the water stones. The nice side was I had the larger set so when the 1” was dull I could just grab the 7/8”. I used some sizes I may not have otherwise just to avoid sharpening so much. The tenons were easily cut by hand with hand tools and cleaned up with a couple block planes. Cutting between the tenons was the hardest part there. Just got it close with the saws then pared with the chisels to depth.
One thing I did do I felt kinda smart on. Everybody is concerned about height. I have been using saw horses that are 34.5”. They feel a hair short as I am 6’3” and it’s all in the leg. So I made my bench legs 35.5”. Pretty tall right? But I did it in such a fashion that I can flip it over and cut a full inch off the bottom and still have my strechers 2.5”off the floor. 2.5 is an arbitrary number but it’s the minimum I feel looks right. If I never cut it, then it stays at 3.5” which I feel looks better. I needed to keep the strecher as low as possible as I plan to build a tool chest to go under the bench someday.

Legs and strechers roughed out


The mortises in the legs

The base assembled

Again with the mortises

First set of tenons

Weapons of choice

Strechers just after easing the edges. You can see from the ends that even this construction is nonconventional. I had a lot of narrow boards so they were used up un the middle like you see here. The top and legs are built the same. I was able to use up a lot of 1-2” material this way.

And all the legs ready to go

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

8 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile


9694 posts in 2445 days

#1 posted 03-12-2014 07:38 PM

Serious progress John, the tenons look great. Did you drill the mortises on the top, then pare or just chopped?

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View john2005's profile


1768 posts in 2172 days

#2 posted 03-12-2014 07:49 PM

Yes, drilled as close to size as possible then cleaned ip with the chisels. It was the end grain in the corners that gave me fits. I also did the drill half way from both sides method to keep as tight of fit as possible and prevent tne “slightly angled drill” problem. I would recommend that. Seemed to work pretty good. Just use better chisels and you will be money.

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

View Hammerthumb's profile


2844 posts in 1969 days

#3 posted 03-12-2014 07:52 PM

Very close to assembly time. Looking good!

-- Paul, Las Vegas

View CFrye's profile


10186 posts in 1834 days

#4 posted 03-13-2014 06:32 AM

You are sooo close! :-)

-- God bless, Candy

View CL810's profile


3784 posts in 2982 days

#5 posted 03-13-2014 01:39 PM

Smart, solid craftsmanship here John. This bench is looking really good.

So, I’m thinking “what’s he doing for vises?” Couldn’t remember. Reread the blog, no help. Is that one of the surprises? Or did I miss something?

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View john2005's profile


1768 posts in 2172 days

#6 posted 03-13-2014 07:48 PM

Nothin special, just a chain driven leg vise on the front, and a quick release tail vise. The surprise was the walnut wrap with giant half blind dovetails. I think I gave that away on the forum though.

Hoping to get another blog entry in today maybe as I’m home sick and not really doing much else. We’ll see.

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

View AnthonyReed's profile


9713 posts in 2434 days

#7 posted 03-17-2014 01:59 PM

Man o man, you are doing a great job. Your bench is looking friggin fantastic John.

-- ~Tony

View john2005's profile


1768 posts in 2172 days

#8 posted 03-17-2014 06:46 PM

Thanks man!

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

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