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Forum topic by JohnnyBoy1981 posted 08-24-2017 09:42 PM 2700 views 0 times favorited 79 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JohnnyBoy1981

209 posts in 277 days


08-24-2017 09:42 PM

While I’m putting together dovetail joints, or practicing doing so, I’ve been struggling with having a decent space and vice to work with. I was wondering if you all thought a woodworking table is something I should be focusing on instead?

I wanted to keep it simple, made with 2×4’s and 4×4’s so I can transport the materials easily. Any thoughts on this?

-- Mistakes aren't mistakes if you still have all of your fingers!


79 replies so far

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StephenO

44 posts in 2385 days


#1 posted 08-24-2017 09:56 PM

The only woodworking procedure that doesn’t benefit greatly from the workpiece being securely immobilized is when you’re throwing it across the room in disgust. But for cutting, planing, paring, chopping, scraping, sanding, and anything else of that nature, a solid bench and vise make everything much, much easier.

-- -Steve, Seattle

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Loren

9638 posts in 3487 days


#2 posted 08-24-2017 10:07 PM

For dimensioning boards with hand planes
there is no substitute for a solid work bench.
The legs should be solid with substantial
stretchers between them on the long axis
to prevent the bench shaking while planing.
I used 1/4” threaded rod set in grooves in
my bench stretchers to join the legs together.
In addition to making disassembly easy
any wobbliness can be tuned out by tightening
the nuts on the ends of the rods.

A bench top can be as simple as a slab of
glued-up boards or a more complex affair
with skirts, end caps and a tool tray.

For cutting dovetails the same kind of lateral
forces are not at play, but a solid front vise
is very useful.

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jonah

1473 posts in 3138 days


#3 posted 08-24-2017 11:15 PM

Check out Paul Sellers’ youtube video series on making a workbench. A solid, heavy workbench is invaluable.

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JohnnyBoy1981

209 posts in 277 days


#4 posted 08-25-2017 01:37 AM

My garage, where I work, has an extremely uneven cement floor. Are there assistant feet or legs that can be used to make it all level, but still keep things from moving around while planing?

-- Mistakes aren't mistakes if you still have all of your fingers!

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rodneywt1180b

154 posts in 226 days


#5 posted 08-25-2017 02:20 AM

A good bench makes everything easier.
Check out some of Chris Schwarz’s books on work benches. You’ll get an idea of what you need. Don’t bother building your dream workbench just yet. Build a basic one and learn what you like and dislike first. Then build your dream bench.
I’d google “dovetail vise images” to get some ideas on a vise.
I recommend a solid top on your bench. It’s easier to clamp things to a top that is all one thickness.
How elaborate did you want to go with your levelers? I’d consider some angle iron brackets bolted to the legs and all thread with nuts for levelers. More elaborate but cleaner looking would be to bore the bottom of the legs, inset some coupler nuts then use bolts in the nuts to level the bench.

-- Rodney, Centralia, WA, USA www.etsy.com/shop/ASturdyStick

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Loren

9638 posts in 3487 days


#6 posted 08-25-2017 02:29 AM

While these are kind of spendy imo,
they look like they are easier to adjust than
some which install on the bottom of the
leg.

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JohnnyBoy1981

209 posts in 277 days


#7 posted 08-25-2017 02:40 AM



A good bench makes everything easier.
Check out some of Chris Schwarz s books on work benches. You ll get an idea of what you need. Don t bother building your dream workbench just yet. Build a basic one and learn what you like and dislike first. Then build your dream bench.
I d google “dovetail vise images” to get some ideas on a vise.
I recommend a solid top on your bench. It s easier to clamp things to a top that is all one thickness.
How elaborate did you want to go with your levelers? I d consider some angle iron brackets bolted to the legs and all thread with nuts for levelers. More elaborate but cleaner looking would be to bore the bottom of the legs, inset some coupler nuts then use bolts in the nuts to level the bench.

- rodneywt1180b

I watched the first of a series of Paul Seller’s videos on YouTube where he show’s how to build a workbench. I’ve got 2×4’s already that I was going to glue together as a tabletop. Connecting the top to a base is one thing I get stuck on because it seems there are numerous ways to combine them: S clips, legs through the tabletop, large dovetails, etc.

I’m looking less for an artisan touch and more utilitarian and sturdy!

-- Mistakes aren't mistakes if you still have all of your fingers!

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sawdustdad

335 posts in 725 days


#8 posted 08-25-2017 01:00 PM


Connecting the top to a base is one thing I get stuck on because it seems there are numerous ways to combine them: S clips, legs through the tabletop, large dovetails, etc.

I m looking less for an artisan touch and more utilitarian and sturdy!

- JohnnyBoy1981

If your base is rigid (braced properly) then attaching the top is much simpler. If you depend on the leg-to-top joint to keep the structure rigid, then that joint is more critical. I prefer to build a base that is braced so that it is a rigid structure to begin with, then attach the top. That said, I prefer legs through the top joints.

I have one workbench that I return to a lot. It was originally a food prep table—it has a 4 inch thick maple top over a welded 2 inch steel pipe base. It has a lower shelf that now holds a large storage cabinet. The assembly weighs well over 400 lbs. I put a vise on one end of it, dog holes through it, etc. It is absolutely rigid and immobile, if not quite as functional as a conventional woodworker’s bench.

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

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jonah

1473 posts in 3138 days


#9 posted 08-25-2017 02:01 PM

A glue up of edge grain won’t move much laterally in either direction (the direction of expansion is up and down since the boards are on their sides), so you don’t need to get fancy with attaching the top. Some cleats or angle brackets and screws will do fine. There’s minimal stress on the joint.

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builtinbkyn

1924 posts in 780 days


#10 posted 08-25-2017 02:12 PM

I understand the thoughts behind a utilitarian bench which could probably be executed more quickly, but building a bench with more traditional joinery will not only provide a solid work surface, it’s an exercise in woodworking that will continue to work your skills much like cutting DTs. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated or use expensive lumber. I made mine with Douglas Fir and some other materials I had on hand. Once made, you have a good working surface for a long time. Oh and it’s a project just for you ;)

Click for details

Oh I wanted to add, the floor in my shop is quite uneven too. I use some wedges tacked to the leg bottoms to level it off. Those adjustable legs work, but aren’t necessary.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn & Steel City :)

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JohnnyBoy1981

209 posts in 277 days


#11 posted 08-31-2017 02:17 PM

Bill,
That’s a beautiful table!

I’ve been looking at some simple workbench plans online. FWW has one that uses an MDF top and metal rods to keep the legs stable. I’m not sure if I want to use an MDF top: wouldn’t something like bench dogs under lateral stress weaken the holes? And isn’t MDF fairly unhealthy to be drilling into and sanding down? I know it’s heavy and flat but would that be a long lasting surface?

I have a bunch of 2×4’s that I was going to laminate for a tabletop, and then use 4×4’s for the legs. I wanted to cut tenons on top of the 4×4’s to go through mortises in the tabletop. I’ve never created this type of joinery, but I’m willing to try.

I only want the tabletop to be about 6’ x 2’.

-- Mistakes aren't mistakes if you still have all of your fingers!

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SignWave

440 posts in 2875 days


#12 posted 08-31-2017 02:37 PM

https://www.woodsmithplans.com/plan/heavy-duty-workbench/
I built a variation of this as my first “real” workbench and I think it works well for someone that is just starting out and wants something sturdy and functional, at a low cost, and not requiring advanced skills. The base is quite rigid on it’s own due to the panels between the legs, so it does not depend on the attachment of the top to add rigidity. The plans call for a top that is built up from sheet goods, but I made mine with laminated 2x lumber.

I see the merit in Paul Sellers’ workbench as well, but his came along after I built mine.

I also read Christopher Schwarz’s book later, which gives me ideas for my next workbench. I think it’s a worthwhile read.

BTW, 2’ x 6’ is a good size. I can see going a bit longer, only if you are working on large pieces, but not any wider.

-- Barry, http://BarrysWorkshop.com/

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JayT

5455 posts in 2051 days


#13 posted 08-31-2017 02:46 PM

If you aren’t ready to tackle chopping mortise and tenon joints, yet, you could make the bench leg to top connection using a laminated joint with 2×4’s that would have the same strength and effect as a M&T that is chopped out. The leg would need to be three boards, with the center one being 3-1/2 inches longer than the outside two. Then you build the top with a gap in the lamination to fit the leg. Here’s a visual.

For process, glue up the top without the outside two 2×4’s on each side. Cut the short pieces that go outside the legs and the center piece to go between the legs and glue those in. Then, with the legs in place, glue on a full length piece on the outside. That piece is not shown in the rendering above.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View Bluenote38's profile

Bluenote38

219 posts in 228 days


#14 posted 08-31-2017 03:08 PM

I have a bunch of 2×4 s that I was going to laminate for a tabletop, and then use 4×4 s for the legs. I wanted to cut tenons on top of the 4×4 s to go through mortises in the tabletop. I ve never created this type of joinery, but I m willing to try.

I only want the tabletop to be about 6 x 2 .

- JohnnyBoy1981

My latest bench is a 2×4 lam with Cedar 4×4’s for the base. I did mortise the legs in to sled feet and mortised them into an upper “sled” that the bench top rests on. Top is two pc 3-1/8” thick 12” wide front section, a 3” gap then a 10” back section 6’ long. The top is lagged to the upper “sleds” and bench bolts hold the two lower 2×6 cross pieces tight for lateral stability. Solid, heavy, and cheap – plus it is easy to disassemble and transport. I use shims under the foot sleds to level as needed. A Wilton 10” for a face vise on the left and I built a wagon vise on the right using a 13’ shoulder vise screw complete the bench. It all works for me and the mix of hand and power tools I use.

Best of luck in your final decisions

-- Bill - Rochester MI

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PPK

870 posts in 649 days


#15 posted 08-31-2017 04:05 PM



My garage, where I work, has an extremely uneven cement floor. Are there assistant feet or legs that can be used to make it all level, but still keep things from moving around while planing?

- JohnnyBoy1981

Same story with my garage… easily solved by throwing a shim or two under one foot. It’s faster/easier/cheaper than buying leveling hardware, in my opinion. I’d rather nudge a shim in with my toe than get down and twist and lock a screw-type leveler…

-- Pete

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