Workbench Challenge #4: Fitting "from the work" and cutting the notches

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 11-27-2013 05:22 AM 4622 reads 4 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Ripping the Pieces Without a Tablesaw Part 4 of Workbench Challenge series Part 5: Assembling the Top »

While I have given quite accurate dimensions in the plans, I would never recommend that you take any measurements as the final word in getting good fits. I always fit “from the work” using the measurements as a guide. I will explain this as we get into this segment.

To begin the half-lapping of the bench top framing, lay out the long pieces and clamp them as a unit. Then mark the half-lap notches on them. Mark one side of the notch from the dimensions but mark the second with a piece of your plywood as a spacer. The plywood is not actually 3/4” and you want a snug fit.

Here the first notch has been cut and a piece of plywood is fitted in it to lock the pieces together in alignment while the rest are cut. The next notch has had its edge cuts made, just inside the lines.

Then you make a few more cuts between the first two and pry the scrap out with a chisel. Follow this up by “planing” the bottom of the notch by moving the saw from side to side as you advance it through the cut. It is easier than it sounds.

This is what your fit should look like.

Here all the notches are cut.

Now begin laying out the cross pieces. There are some notches that are double width for the dog hole logs. Be sure to mark them with two pieces of plywood as a marking spacer.

Parts “R” and “O” now get a spacer, “P” on each side and then another notched in strip. Again, fit from the work. If you use measurements here the tiny differences in thickness will start to add up so use a piece of scrap to make the marks and then transfer those marks to cut the corresponding notches in part”O”.

With all these parts dry fitted, screw the corners together with some slim 2” screws. They won’t split the plywood and will hold well if you drill for them first.

Set this assembly aside and we will move on to the top and bottom of the torsion box table top.

...........but that will have to wait. I’m golfing tomorrow.

Thanks for looking in.


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

10 comments so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18308 posts in 3725 days

#1 posted 11-27-2013 06:45 AM

Interesting. How did you bore the holes? Wood auger? Just curious, I’ve never bored plywood on the edge.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3384 days

#2 posted 11-27-2013 08:33 AM

It’s progressing very quickly. A nice simple build with the helpful tips about accurate cutting and marking. Golf in November? You must have a nice climate there Paul.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View tinnman65's profile


1358 posts in 3463 days

#3 posted 11-27-2013 01:36 PM

Nice build Paul but do did you have to mention the part about golfing. You know some of us are having snow :(

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View justoneofme's profile


639 posts in 2529 days

#4 posted 11-27-2013 01:47 PM

I’m glad this tutorial doesn’t have any limitations for future viewing Paul! True to carpenter-challenged me, I started getting confused close to the beginning!! Not to worry though, because I know this wonderfully talented fellow who lives close to home (occasionally!), I could hire to build me the table of my dreams :)
I may be a tad confused, but I’m still avidly watching how magically you make everything fit together … hoping I’ll absorb some of this wonderful knowledge. Thanks Paul!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 3879 days

#5 posted 11-27-2013 01:58 PM

Making good progress here Paul, and great advice on fitting from the work! This is going to be a sturdy bench!

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View kiefer's profile


5619 posts in 2716 days

#6 posted 11-27-2013 02:28 PM

Moving right along and should be nice and study by looking at this .

-- Kiefer

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2588 days

#7 posted 11-27-2013 02:59 PM

Looks great Paul!

-- I never finish anyth

View shipwright's profile


8000 posts in 2847 days

#8 posted 11-27-2013 03:08 PM

Topamax, they are done with a router in an earlier segment of the blog.

Mike, I am in Az now you know. (Sorry Paul, it was a little mean).

Elaine, I will explain it all to you some day.

Thanks for the comments

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

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18308 posts in 3725 days

#9 posted 11-27-2013 04:14 PM

Sorry, Paul. I looked back one segment and didn’t see the holes, so I assumed….... ;-)

tinnman65, get a dark colored ball.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Schwieb's profile


1858 posts in 3511 days

#10 posted 11-28-2013 01:29 AM

I’ve never understood this golf thing. It holds no fascination for me and never has but I suppose it is a good diversion for some of us. I like how you are thinking here and as I see it evolve, I like it very much. You can do a lot with nominal and readily available materials if you think it through. I’ve always been intrigued by the moniker of “solid wood”. Does that imply only sawn material from a log? Obviously not. This looks pretty solid to me. Unit body construction. I like your thinking Paul. I was a budding engineer in one of my previous lives and came to appreciate the strength and economy of “engineered materials”. Where would we be without plywood?

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

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