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Maple Workbench Plans - Complete Sketchup

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Forum topic by OperoLignum posted 09-09-2015 12:02 PM 1409 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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OperoLignum

6 posts in 456 days


09-09-2015 12:02 PM

Topic tags/keywords: woodworking bench benchtop tail-vise front-vise workbench sketchup workbench design hard maple african padauk dog holes dog hole strip key through joinery mortise and tenon eclipse 10 vise lie-nielsen tail vise bench movement

Hi folks,
I’m working on a hard maple woodworking bench, using inspiration from The Workbench Book (1983) by Scott Landis. I would appreciate feedback on this project. All the major pieces have been cut and smoothed, although not all are cut to final length. I have not begun mortising the joints yet, nor have I created the dogholes or set the vises, so now’s the time for tweaking.
The benchtop is hard maple, 2 13/16 thick, with an African Padauk tail vise (Lie-Nielsen hardware). The doghole strip is American Oak, and the Apron is birdseye maple. The stretchers are figured maple with African Padauk keys for the key-through joints. The benchtop rests on the arms and is held in place by bullet dowels. Bullets at the front side of the bench are roughly to size whereas the bullets to the rear of the bench sit in holes that are oversize, to allow for movement of the bench away from the vises. Similarly, end caps will be glued for the first 1/3rd of the bench top but will remain free to allow for sliding of the bench away from the vises. The front vise is a Sheffield, England made Eclipse 10” vise modeled on Record’s famous 52 1/2D.
Modifications that I’ve made (from plans in Landis’s book) include setting the front legs so that a bit of the front right leg can be used for additional support when clamping a workpiece vertically in the tail vise. I almost goofed and originally put the leg too far under the tail vise so that work would hit the tenon and key, but I’ve rectified that error. I was also careful not to have doghole placement issues. The Lie-Nielsen vise instructions had a mislabled benchtop thickness of 3”, so due to that error in their installation guide I added blocking for the tail vise because the bench top was not thick enough (should have been 4”). I’m using 1×1 bench dogs using the spring design that Rob Cosman shows on his Swedish-style bench (look for it on Youtube).
I welcome questions, comments and critiques – particularly those that help me avoid errors before the build is complete! If you are not into the style of the bench (i.e. you’re a Roubo fan) I’m sorry but I’m not changing horses mid-stream :)

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8 replies so far

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BadJoints

103 posts in 554 days


#1 posted 09-09-2015 04:03 PM

First, Welcome to LJ!

Your bench design is very similar to the one I’m building.

I haven’t made a final determination on species yet, but it will be something softer than hard maple. I am a believer in denting the bench before the workpiece. Mine is currently spec’ed to come out right around 3”, so no real difference in thickness. Rather than dowels, I will be using tenons on the legs to join the top to the base. I don’t plan on gluing mine, so the bench can be disassembled if necessary. My endcaps are the same as yours, though I’m considering something a little more insane than a simple dovetail for the front detail.

I am using what I suspect is the exact same eclipse vise (EWWQR10-NA)? for the front of my bench. I chose to bury the rear jaw in the top/apron to allow seamless clamping along the front of the bench. To that end, I added a row of dog holes along the apron at the same height as the guide bars in the vise. This allows me to pop a dog in and support any length piece at the full vise height. Burying the vise did add a few challenges to fitting it to the top.

I went with the lee valley tail vise, and plan to use it as a wagon vise. The external block style you have works just fine I’m sure, it just doesn’t appeal to me aesthetically. I’m even planning to attempt to make a wheel style handle for mine out of hardwood.

Your idea of using a leg to support vertical pieces in the vise is spot on. It’s the exact reason leg vises came to be. I put the legs of my bench flush with the apron, so any vertical piece will be supported by the leg. To that end, I planned holdfast holes every 4” down the leg adjacent to the vise. This lets me add a holdfast if needed to stabilize a piece.

Speaking of holdfast and dog holes, I’m making mine all 3/4” round holes. It allows me to switch back and forth from dogs to holdfasts as the situation dictates. I too am using wooden spring loaded dogs. I am making 4 of them(excessive) that will be stored in holes on the side of the other front leg.

So those are my thoughts and suggestions for your bench. Feel free to ignore it all. However, if you want, I can upload the sketchup of mine for a look see.

-- Producing furniture grade firewood since 1984

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OperoLignum

6 posts in 456 days


#2 posted 09-09-2015 04:37 PM

BadJoints, thanks for responding! Funny yours is similar – I guess great minds think alike. I’ve been on this forum a bit but never posted.

What minimum bench top thickness does the LV tail vise require? I like the wagon wheel vise for stability, but I was realizing if I utilized that, I’d have no place on the bench to really get some depth for clamping. Since neither you or I are building a shoulder vise, our ability to clamp a long vertical piece is limited, which is why I opted not to use a wagon wheel vise.

I’m not gluing my top to the arms either – I want to be able to disassemble also. I was considering a sliding dovetail for the end cap attachment, but it seems unnecessarily difficult and since it will be hidden, I’ll never see my hard work. I’m curious what your insanely difficult idea is?

I have some holdfast holes (also 3/4”) in the top; I’ll probably add more later but I thought I’d add them as needed. It is tricky to put dog holes anywhere near the front vise, as you’ll hit the guide rods if you’re not careful, I’ve found. For my 1” square dog holes, I’m planning on making a dog that has a 3/4” vertical hole drilled in it. I can then put this dog into a square dog hole and viola, it becomes a round dog hole. That “adapter” dog hole will only be the thickness of the bench top and will never sit above or below the bench top, so as not to stress the thin wood. I’m not sure what spring system I’ll use for it – not enough room to use Cosman’s design for that one, I think. I’m interested to see if this idea will work – if it does, I can switch back and forth between any instrument that needs a 3/4” dog hole.

How long are you making your four dogs? I figured the highest I’d put them up would be 3”, and since the doghole strip is 5 7/8”, I was shooting for about 8 7/8” tall for the dogs in the oak dog hole strip and 7” for the ones in the tail vise. Might be too tall. Maybe I should cut them down to 6”. Can always take away, I guess.

For the apron on the back of the bench, I was going to glue it to the bench top but not glue the dove tail joints, so that the bench can push away from the vises with the seasons. What are you doing on yours to solve this problem? Also, do you have a tool tray for yours?

I’d love to see your sketchup file. I couldn’t figure out how to upload that, but I didn’t try hard. I’ll upload if anyone wants.

Oh, one more thing – except for ripping, I’m building this bench sans power tools. Maybe I’m crazy. I figure this thing will last a few hundred years if it doesn’t burn. Felt it was the right thing to do. As I crosscut the hard maple top by hand, I rethink my commitment!

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OperoLignum

6 posts in 456 days


#3 posted 09-09-2015 05:56 PM

By the way, I think I now understand what you mean about dog holes at the same height as the guide rods – you mean you’re putting in some horizontal dogs so that you can set work on the apron between the front vise and the horizontal dog, right?

I considered that. In the end, though, I’m leaning toward using a bench slave and dogs that are sort of U-shaped for this application. The latter are featured in Landis’ book, and are a standard vertical dog that extends out over the front of the apron and down, creating a surface for clamping work onto the apron (for planing a board’s edge, for example). You can use them with the tail vise too. (If my description is unclear, let me know, I’ll try to upload a photo. Can’t find an image online at the moment).

Another solution I may use is drilling 3/4” horizontal holes through the apron and using a holdfast sideways, like in some Roubo applications.

My concern with your approach is won’t you need a fairly wide (i.e. deep) front apron? My apron ends just below the guide rods, so if I made dog holes level with the guide rods they would probably break through on the bottom. If you have a foot wide apron, this is probably not a problem. Also, how thick is your apron? Mine is only 3/4” (it’s a piece of birdseye maple, to make the front look good, but I wasn’t going to pay to have it be thick enough to be my dog hole strip too). I would think you’d want a good 2 inches thick to support those horizontal dogs or they will wiggle in their holes over time and enlarge the holes.

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OperoLignum

6 posts in 456 days


#4 posted 09-10-2015 05:22 PM

Couldn’t find any pictures online of the bench dog that I mentioned that’s featured in Landis’s book. I whipped up a crude sketchup of it – the one in the book was leather or masonite lined.

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BadJoints

103 posts in 554 days


#5 posted 09-20-2015 12:08 PM

I realize I am very late getting this posted for you, but here is my working sketchup model. It’s not 100%, I still have some adjustments to make around the tail vise block, and a few other details I am not nailed down on yet. I’m still undecided on what I am going to do with the middle of the benchtop. Leave that gap for clamping? removeable tray? flippable section for a planing stop?

-- Producing furniture grade firewood since 1984

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OperoLignum

6 posts in 456 days


#6 posted 09-22-2015 04:24 AM

Wow, what a great sketchup! Where to start! I love your design, you’ve obviously put a lot of thought into it. Beefy bench! Not going anywhere anytime soon. I like the arched stretchers – nice touch. I see you’re a lefty. “GP 4, 2015” what’s the GP 4 stand for? Your initials? Have you considered putting your doghole strip and tail vise closer to the edge of the bench? I’d be concerned the strip was too far in for certain applications. I like how you have an interior strip behind the front apron – I may have to do that to hold in my dogs. I also like your center gap for clamping, I think it’s spot-on. Glue-up’s going to be a bear, I bet. Going to use anything to hold the top in place? Biscuits? Splines?

Sketchup – did you detail out the Eclipse vise or did you download it? Either way, I hope you don’t mind, I’ll try to grab it and replace my crude one. Will check your specs of course.

Also – how did you find other wood textures? Download those too?

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BadJoints

103 posts in 554 days


#7 posted 09-23-2015 06:46 PM

I’ve updated the sketchup file in the link above. Mostly corrections, refinements and some visuals of how parts are intended to be used.

Yes, those are my initials. The MMXV will most likely end up with an extra I at the end when I actually get to finish it.

The dog holes were originally one strip closer to the edge, but had to be moved back due to leg/front dog conflicts. I’ve looked at it, and can’t forsee a situation where it will hamper me. Time will tell I suppose.

No plan to use biscuits or the like, I plan on gluing it up in 2 sections and then join them. Then a ton of working with a #7 to get it flat. I’ve added stretchers below the top in the latest sketchup, out of concern for sagging with the middle unsupported. It should help keep the top a little flatter as well. The stretcher joinery at the top is a puzzle I haven’t figured out yet, they would conflict with the tenons on top of the legs.

The eclipse vise, I downloaded a different vise and then remodeled sections of it to match the one I have. Since I am 7500 miles from my vise, I went with the size specs on the original model. I will be updating it when I get home.

The wood textures, I googled each wood I wanted and downloaded the pictures I wanted for a texture. I actually added two copies of each texture to sketchup, one normal and one rotated 90 degrees. Sketchup has a texture rotate feature, but it is a serious pain to use.

How is your bench coming?

-- Producing furniture grade firewood since 1984

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OperoLignum

6 posts in 456 days


#8 posted 09-25-2015 07:19 PM

These are shots of flattening the top and sides of the bench top pieces. It will need another go once it’s glued up but I took a stab pre-glue-up to make my life easier. There’s also a shot of the ripped legs, arms, feet and vise. In general I’m not using power, but I’m drawing the line at ripping. I should take some shots of the stretchers and African Padauk tail vise. I haven’t begun to mortise it yet. The Padauk is the most difficult wood to work with in the project; a lot of tear-out, despite my low-angle jack freshly-sharpened to 8000.

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