Tenon size for the stretchers on my Holtzappfel workbench build?

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Forum topic by deeznutz posted 02-14-2011 03:44 PM 2001 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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33 posts in 2438 days

02-14-2011 03:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench

Hello all,

I’ve recently started building a Holtazappfel workbench based almost entirely on Chris Schwartz’s knockdown version. One thing I’ve changed though is the size of the stretchers. His plans called for 1.5” thick stock and I had the lumber to mill them to 2.5” stock. My question is how wide should I make my mortise/tenons? His plans call for 5/8” so I’m thinking either 3/4” or 1” as those are the size chisels I have. These two widths would leave 7/8” and 3/4” of meet left between the outside wall of the mortise and the outside edge of the legs respectively (I’m mounting the stretchers flush with the fronts/sides of the legs).

So, what do you think would provide the most strength? Any input would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance and I can’t wait to post a completed bench here!


3 replies so far

View HorizontalMike's profile


7063 posts in 2332 days

#1 posted 02-14-2011 05:34 PM

Since your post, I have looked at Chris Schwartz's Blip-TV video on this bench to see what you are talking about. I am currently building a modified version of Bob Lang's 21st Century workbench that has much the same utility. One thing that differs is that the legs on the 21st CW are laminated. This allows for installing through-tenons and locking them in place with wedges driven from the far side of the leg. The outer half of the leg is THEN blocked & glued in place, thus hiding the much stronger mortise-tenon joints from view. You might consider using through-tenons, as you would end with no visual difference and the stronger joints that you are seeking.

It also looks like Chris uses pens/bolts/dowels (through the tenons?) to anchor the top to the base (seen about 0:39sec into the video). You might consider using dowels on your other mortise-tenon joints as well. Just a thought…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View deeznutz's profile


33 posts in 2438 days

#2 posted 02-14-2011 05:42 PM


Thanks for the ideas. I had considered through tenons but in the end I’ve decided to go with standard MT joints. I do plan to peg them dowels though on the end assemblies. I’ll be making the long stretchers and top removable like Schwartz’s knock down version of this bench in the video. I live in an apartment so no doubt, this bench will have to move atleast once or twice!

Any insight into weather 3/4” or 1” tenons would be best given my application?

View Loren's profile


8158 posts in 3066 days

#3 posted 02-14-2011 06:28 PM

Having built a bench with the stretchers tensioned by threaded rods
I wouldn’t be inclined to do it any other way. The rods allow the bench
to be taken apart and reassembled and the whole structure can be
tuned to be totally tight at the joints with a socket wrench. No tenons
or mortises are necessary for this type of stretcher system. It works
with butt joints.

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