V8 Degree wedge powered workbench #3: Building the Plywood Bench Top

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 09-03-2012 11:22 PM 12039 reads 14 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Building the Wagon Vices. Part 3 of V8 Degree wedge powered workbench series Part 4: Fitting the top edges and ends »

NOTE: Most of this page can be avoided if you want to just drill your dog holes in the layered plywood. The inserts are the “Cadillac version”.

Part of the plan for this bench from the start was that is was to use interlaid layers of plywood to make a solid monolithic structure that was absolutely rigid without using any fancy or difficult joinery. Another part was to hide and protect the edge plywood wherever possible for looks, strength and utility. The resulting strategy was to make “dog hole inserts” and lock them into the plywood layers. In order to do this without having to individually cut out 80 separate square holes with a jig saw I set up the first of the inter-lay assemblies.

This photo shows two stacks of 3/4” PW that represent the two halves of the bench top. Each stack is divided into two widths at a distance in from the outer edge equal to the distance in of either the inside or the outside of the square dog holes. This will become clearer as we go on. Each half top will be made up of two layers from each stack.

The pieces clamped up here represent the wider pieces from the stack on the left above and the narrower pieces from the stack on the right. Set up like this we can cut all the square dog holes with a skilsaw in very short time. (note: yes I know it’s a Porter Cable but it’s like xerox… right?)

Step #1) Lay out the dog holes on the top and front of the stack.

Step #2) Set the depth of the skilsaw and make several cuts.

Step #3) Clean it out roughly with a chisel.

Step#4) When you get to about here…..

... go back to the skilsaw and work slowly through the rebate with a sideways motion left to right and back to “plane” out the bottom.

When they’re all done it should look like this. Wasn’t that easier than cutting 80 square holes with a jigsaw?

Now we can inter-lay the pieces for the two half tops like this. The stack on the left is left loose to illustrate the inter-lay better. In each layer the dog hole is entirely cut in one side.

I made up the dog hole inserts in a long piece and then chopped them off. It’s a quick way to get it done.

Cutting the last two rebates.

Next the bottom layer is made up. It is 1/4” bigger all around to fit in a rebate in the edge and end boards.
It also has cutouts in it to locate the tops of the legs and a hole for one of the leg members to lock in at the leg vice corner.

At this point we’re ready for glue-up. If you’re sure everything is perfectly fitted you can install the dog hole inserts and vices and glue them in as you go. I purposely made my vice holes a little sloppy and epoxied them in later for the very best possible grip and fit. The dog holes fit very snugly but I opted to pull them out after glue-up and re-set them later. I was keeping my options open. If I did it again I’d leave them in. Assembly here was liquid hide glue (Old Brown Glue) and air staples but 1 1/2” nails would work just fine.

And here we have two very solid, very flat 12” x 72” half bench tops, ready to go.

Sorry this was so long to get so little done but I wanted to be as clear as possible. The work doesn’t take as long as the describing. :-)

Next up: fitting the top frame joints and assembling the top.

Thanks for dropping in.

Questions, comments and critiques are always welcome.


-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

16 comments so far

View gbear's profile


512 posts in 4121 days

#1 posted 09-03-2012 11:55 PM

Your techniques are great…experience is such a wonderful teacher!

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View Sodabowski's profile


2374 posts in 2854 days

#2 posted 09-04-2012 12:03 AM

> follows the series with interest <

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3182 days

#3 posted 09-04-2012 12:08 AM

Paul, This certainly is a fascinating build. It reminds me of the woodgears bandmill. Clever with the stop blocks for planing with the Skil saw. I actually have my dad’s old 6” ‘Skil’ saw. It’s seen a LOT of use. It is all metal, and is heavy.

I assume you used the LHG due to the longer ‘Open Time’.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 2487 days

#4 posted 09-04-2012 12:42 AM

Not a long post at all, fly’s by when reading it, and very nicely done. I am always amazed at your craftsmanship, you have a gift that I certainly envy!


-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10115 posts in 4074 days

#5 posted 09-04-2012 12:59 AM

It’s really nice & FUN watching your “poetry in motion”!

Great job!

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2294 days

#6 posted 09-04-2012 01:04 AM


The adrenaline is starting to flow, and visions of ‘sugar plums’ are dancing in the distance.

I’m going to repalce my old stand by work bench, this winter, and was all but decided to build the ‘New Fangled Workbench’, because of it’s simplicity and practicality.

I’ve been wrestling with your latest contributions, the Wedge Vices, and they just negate the entire concept of the New Fangled Workbench, so in order to utilize the Wedge Vises, I’m going to build the entire ‘Shipwright’ Bench.

P.M. me with a location to forward a monitery donation / contribution (even if only to your favorite Charity) for the use of this design.

Regards – Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View shipwright's profile


7992 posts in 2819 days

#7 posted 09-04-2012 01:42 AM

Thanks Len.
I get my reward when someone makes use of my ideas.
That’s all the payment I could ever ask for.
But If you do build it keep me posted and ask any time you run into a snag.
I’ll be here.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2711 days

#8 posted 09-04-2012 02:20 AM

Not only are you a great craftsman, but a world class thinker. The technique for doing the dog holes was simply brilliant. Not sure I could ‘plane’ with my skilsaw though. I don’t even need a new bench but I’m following along to try to learn more skills.Thanks for posting this.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Schwieb's profile


1858 posts in 3483 days

#9 posted 09-04-2012 02:48 AM

Your work here is extremely good and the documentation the same. Way to go Paul. Dissecting down the bench into readily available materials. Not everyone has access to nice 4×4 or bigger solid stock. I understand the skil saw planing technique. All this time I thought I was cheating or lazy.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2696 days

#10 posted 09-04-2012 03:04 AM

Ingenious!!! Innovative!!! Inspiring!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3173 days

#11 posted 09-04-2012 03:52 AM

Wow this is so different than any bench I’ve ever seen. I’m learning a lot watching your blog.

I wish I had known and bought stock in whatever glue you used. I bet you’ve used a couple of gallons at least!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View shipwright's profile


7992 posts in 2819 days

#12 posted 09-04-2012 04:41 AM

Mauricio, Actually I only used the one bottle of Old Brown Glue for this glue-up and about a pound or two of granulated Milligan and Higgins 192 lb hide glue for everything else except the epoxy parts.

I used it to lock in the wagon vices and to glue down the thin hardwood top and those used about a pint of combined components.
The thing is that with this type of joint there is so much surface area that if you have enough glue to keep the parts from moving on each other the fastenings will never be stressed and they will do the holding. That said I got a lot more than “just enough” glue in the joints.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2825 days

#13 posted 09-04-2012 11:43 AM

Not long at all Paul. Appreciate every aspect of what you do

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View DocSavage45's profile


8587 posts in 2864 days

#14 posted 09-04-2012 03:02 PM


Your blog is direct and informative. You make it look simple. Helps me think “I can do it. You should have a workshop for potential woodworkers in your area?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2696 days

#15 posted 09-04-2012 09:39 PM

Learning tons from your blog. It is not too short, it is not too long, it is just right, shipwright that is!!!

Sign me up for the “Potential Woodworker Workshop”. I’ve been told that I have alot of potential!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

showing 1 through 15 of 16 comments

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