First Woodworing bench -Joiner Question

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by jebbylawless posted 04-18-2010 05:26 PM 2461 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jebbylawless's profile


6 posts in 2965 days

04-18-2010 05:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question workbench hand tools woodworking bench joinery tenons

I am eager to build my first woodworking bench. It’ll be used for hand-tool woodworking. I bought a bunch of Fir yesterday for a really good deal. But I am still undecided about the specific design. I want it to be very sturdy so I am making the legs out of 6”x6” stock. The top will be 2 slabs of 10”x3.5” (I may add a 3rd slab). The width will be 54” due to the small space available.

Any opinions on general structure? I’m torn between creating a trestle style bench where the legs rest on a rail or a more stand style where the 4 legs rest directly on the floor. Is there a structural reason to go in one or the other direction?

Also, I really want to make this a knock-down bench so I’d like the joinery to be dry. My favorite style would style would be to use tusked tenons that I could adjust over time to tighten the fit. To fit through my 6” legs I’d need to cut to tenons about 8” or 9” long. I’m not sure how to do this with my tenon saw which doesn’t have that much clearance (and I don’t have power tools). Would I need to cut these tenons with chisels?

The next option might be to make standard tenons but these would still be 6” long. Or possibly attaching the stretchers to the legs with giant dovetail joints.

The final option might be to just attach the stretchers to the legs using lag screws. This may be the quickest path to actually completing the workbench and getting to some real projects but I really would like for this to be practice for some joinery techniques.

Any wisdom about planning what style of joinery to use?


6 replies so far

View IrishWoodworker's profile


159 posts in 4075 days

#1 posted 04-18-2010 05:35 PM

You can make a knock down base by using bolts I did that with my bench. There are lots of different designs out there. Just find what fancies you and then modify it to what you like. Do you have any power tools? I know that a bench can be made by using hand tools but it takes a little longer.

-- Dont just dream it, get up and live it!

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3661 days

#2 posted 04-18-2010 05:48 PM

Lag screws would be my last choice.

I built a douglas fir workbench about a year ago (see: and ) ... it gets a lot of use, and is solid as a rock.

I used 2×12 stock for the top … ripped into 3.5” strips, jointed and planed to 1.5” thick, then laminated to form a top that is 3.5” thick and 22” wide. The end stretchers have mortise & tenon joints that are draw-bored and pinned with 3/8” oak dowels. The long stretchers are mortise & tenon and have bench bolts and brass cylinder nuts so it can be disassembled.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View CL810's profile


3785 posts in 2986 days

#3 posted 04-18-2010 10:03 PM

Check out Christopher Schwartz’s book on Workbenches. His book will address all your questions as he is a hand tool man as well.

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

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 3786 days

#4 posted 04-19-2010 10:35 PM

I’m going to second the suggestion to check out Chris Schwarz’s book. It covers many of the specific woodworking tasks and the work holding methods that work best. You should take a close look at the work you do and want to do and make sure you can handle of the work holding. Essentially your bench is your most valuable tool when it comes to hand tool work and it should act like a giant clamp. You should be able to secure your work quickly and easily and not have the bench move on you. Nothing is more frustrating than planing or chiseling on a wobbly bench. I have worked on a few trestle style benches and I was not happy as they were too spindly and wobbled. Granted the joinery was a little loose so I can say what a properly built trestle would act like. I built a 4 legged bench with 5”x5” legs in the Roubo style and it is a beast. You could design it to be knockdown but remember that it needs to be rock solid with the joints are locked in place. If you go with 4 legs then make them flush with the edges of your benchtop as this makes for great clamping ability. Also, if you add a 3 slab to the top I would not exceed more than 25 or 26” in top depth. If you cannot reach across the top easily it will become a hindrance. You will also want to be able to set a standard carcase on the top and be able to clamp from both sides. So pick up the Schwarz book, it will be invaluable to your build. You can watch my entire bench build on my own site if you are interested. Follow the link in my signature and let me know if you have any additional questions.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View jebbylawless's profile


6 posts in 2965 days

#5 posted 04-20-2010 03:27 AM

Thanks! Your bench is MASSIVE! I love it. Thanks for the tips. Looks like I do need to get that book by Schwarz.

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3671 days

#6 posted 04-20-2010 03:29 AM

Even if you don’t go for the Roubo style look at that bench and understand the benefits of having everything flush (legs and top) and massive.

Vise setup and types can be specific to what you do but ease of use and flexibility come from those 2 features.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics