Workbench mortises and lamination question

  • Advertise with us

« back to Focus on the Workspace forum

Forum topic by notdan posted 09-30-2014 02:37 AM 1293 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View notdan's profile


24 posts in 1410 days

09-30-2014 02:37 AM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench

I’m going to be building a workbench soon and I thought of a shortcut for the mortises. I wanted to see if it would work or if it is for some reason a bad idea. I’ll be using standard 1 1/2” thick lumber for the top, legs, and stretchers. The legs will be 3 boards laminated, the stretchers will be 2 boards laminated, etc. So I was thinking, rather than gluing it all together, then chopping out the mortises, could I cut the mortices first (easily with a handsaw) out of the middle piece before gluing it all together? It would be like cutting a large notch out of the board. So on the top, the 2nd and 2nd to last boards would get cut. For the legs, it would be the middle piece that got the notch. I’m thinking the main trick would be making sure the boards are the same thickness but seems easier than chiseling large mortises. Does that sound like it would work?

I hope that makes sense. I have a sketch to help explain what I mean:

8 replies so far

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 1962 days

#1 posted 09-30-2014 02:39 AM

Yes, that will work fine. You’re right about it being way easier too.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3318 days

#2 posted 09-30-2014 02:41 AM

That will work, you just have to:

1. Remember not to put glue on the face of the uncut piece where it forms the wall of the mortise when you laminate the pieces.
2. Have a way to clean the glue squeezeout out of the mortises.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View bigblockyeti's profile


5140 posts in 1748 days

#3 posted 09-30-2014 02:54 AM

I’m trying to size up how big of a bench I’ll be able to build when I get a bunch of stuff out of my shop and I’m planning on pre-cutting the mortises just like you’ve describe for mine.

View Wally331's profile


350 posts in 2052 days

#4 posted 09-30-2014 02:56 AM

thats basically how i did mine. you can dry fit and then tune the tenon to perfect width or thickness by just clamping that front piece on. A lot easier to do before you glue it up.

View Lucasd2002's profile


124 posts in 1379 days

#5 posted 09-30-2014 12:51 PM

If you’re laminating boards for the legs and stretchers, the tenon can be an entire board, which eliminates all cutting for the tenon.

Also, see link below for tip about packaging tape for the mortise during glue-up.

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2949 days

#6 posted 09-30-2014 01:32 PM

I built mine that way, using the entire width of the board as the tenon. So, for example, the stretcher is two short boards sandwiching one long board. The legs are two long boards sandwiching two short pieces. The top piece starts a board height below the top, and ends where the lower stretcher starts. A short piece starts below where the lower stretcher starts and the bottom of the leg. The top stretcher drops in from the top of the legs so the stretcher is flush with the top of the legs. The bottom stretcher has to be inserted in the leg mortices. The legs do need a classic drill & chop mortice for the long mortices, because they go through the faces of the boards, but the long stretchers are made up the same way as the short ones. I chose to screw my top (laminated 2×4s) to the top stretcher, but I considered making the center of the leg stick up to become a through tenon to a top mortice, where I would have made the top lamination have openings for those tenons.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2396 days

#7 posted 09-30-2014 01:45 PM

I haven’t done that on a workbench, but I have done it when I lamintaed legs for a bed. I used a dado blade to notch out the middle piece, then glued up the 3. Way easier and cleaner drilling and chiseling. Just be sure to leave the mortise a hair deeper than the tenon. For through mortises, you can glue pieces to one side of the lamination, using your tenon clamped in place as a space, then attach the other side of the lamination.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View notdan's profile


24 posts in 1410 days

#8 posted 10-01-2014 02:01 AM

Thanks so much for the advice. I wouldn’t have even thought about the glue, haha, I’m sure I would have smeared it all over. I’ll post updates with how it goes.

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