Advice on attaching a workbench top

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Forum topic by groland posted 03-03-2009 08:47 AM 7905 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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202 posts in 3557 days

03-03-2009 08:47 AM

I am building a workbench and am hoping to get some advice on attaching its top. The workbench supports are red oak ca. 3.5” square. The top is laminated ash 2 5/8 thick, finger-jointed boards. I am thinking, on what will be a very heavy bench, to use four sturdy bolts, 3/8” – 1/2” diam. recessed into the top. I could use square ended bolts in a chiseled out square recess or hex head bolts and washers recessed in a forstner-bored hole. Any thoughts on what kind of bolts to use?

Another concern is allowing for wood movement. Since both the top and oak members are laminated I’m hoping wood movement won’t be too much, but if I bore the bolt holes larger than the bolts to allow for some movement, how much larger should they be?


George Roland

3 replies so far

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 4069 days

#1 posted 03-03-2009 11:14 AM

I’m building one too with a heavy base and top and will be using lag screws up through the two pieces supporting the top. I’ll use three 3/8” bolts on each end comming up into the laminated top so bolt end is 1/2 – 3/4” from the surface of the bench top (my top is about 4”thick so there is a lot to bolt into). The center of the three 3/8” bolts will be run through a 3/8” hole in the cross support member and the one’s on either side will be in a 1/2” hole to allow for benchtop wood expansion. This method saves having to make and plug any fancy holes in the top which I like.

View azwoodman's profile


132 posts in 3526 days

#2 posted 03-03-2009 12:19 PM

Ive been doing some research on workbench design and have found that there are some pretty good resources out there. One idea that caught my attention about how to attach the top was by drilling a few shallow holes in the bottom surface of the top and having corresponding pegs in the base for the top to “lock” into. This would not only allow for expansion but whenever you need to move the bench you can take it apart easily.

I have heard that one of the best books about building workbenches is :

Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use
– By Christopher Schwarz

-- Spencer, Gilbert Az (

View Vjeko's profile


135 posts in 3559 days

#3 posted 03-05-2009 10:29 AM

I can only tell you how it’s done on the old heavy beech workbench I bought
from a woodworking school -looks something like :

The bench is made in two parts – the bench top
and the leg support.

The leg support parts are 6,5cm 7 cm for legs,leg top support (going across the top
of two legs) and leg base support(on the floor underneath both legs).
The pieces between the leg pairs (along the length of the bench)are 13 cm
4cm with bolts through
legs into these pieces.

All that’s keeping the bench top and leg support together are
- a big fat dowel in each leg top support pinned into a bench cross piece
(I’ll call it that for want of better words – it’s a piece of wood across the width
of the bottom of the bench which then sits on the leg support top)
- The front of the bench is thicker than the rest of the bench. The leg top support
which goes in front of the vise which sits on the width of the bench has a dado in this
thicker part of the bench. Just to additionally stabilize things.
-Other than the two points above, the top of the bench cross pieces sit on the
tops of the leg supports and that’s it – weight does the rest.

The table sits as solid as a rock but very simple to pull apart and transport
and a good solution for wood movement.

Sorry can’t give more details as I haven’t got anyone to help me
pick up the top (but I have “fond memories” of moving it , so I also
remeber some of the details well ;)

-- Vjeko Balas - Croatia

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