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mkat
28th Mar 2006, 08:20 PM
I've generously been given some wood, which I'll be making a workbench from (open base for now, but may add some storage). I have two leg assemblies (see the out of proportion pic below), top (two of 1800 x 280 x 40mm, I have another two similar pieces that I'll use to make the size to around 650mm wide). The timber doesn't look or feel like hardwood, looks like oregon (not pine) but is heavy. I've read the warnings about making a bench using oregon. However, since all this stuff has cost me nothing, I'm happy to make a go of it and attempt to reinforce it as much as possible. I've also read some info here and reference links to various workbench pages that have been helpful.

So, given the type of timber I'll be using and the leg assemblies I currently have, I have some questions since I'm still learning about all this stuff:

- What are the best options for the stretchers and to build or complete the base? I have 70 x 60mm long pieces of timber that I can glue one on top of the other if need be to make them wider. As far as I know I could use a through M & T joints or maybe a blind M & T joint with a bolt into the stretcher end grain, where the nut is adjustable through a hole in the side of the stretchers. Or maybe something better, but I don't know what. Although I'm thinking of an open base now, even if the stretchers are wider, there may still be enough room for some (very little...) storage

- I'm not sure of how to attach the top to the base once the base is complete, given the structure of the leg assemblies. I've read about using lag screws, but the top piece of the leg assembly is 90mm and the bench top timber is 40mm thick. So, maybe 40mm is not much wood for the screw to hang onto. An alternative is to use cleats, but I have no idea about them and how they could be used in this case. I suppose another option is to bolt the top to the base, but that will leave recessed holes in the top and since the top is 40mm the bolt will sit in 15 - 20mm into it

- I also have a Record vice to attach to it, but haven't really thought about how to do it yet. Maybe attach a thicker piece of timber on that side (under the bench top) to accommodate it because I'm thinking of attaching a thick piece of wood onto the outer jaw

- I suppose to further reinforce the base, another piece of timber attached somehow from the top of one leg assembly to the top of the other may help. I don't know, just brainstorming or brain exploding...

The bottom line is that I'm not fussy about how it looks, just that it should be as solid as possible and functional. So, any advice about design and reinforcing the structure would be much appreciated since I really, really need it...

http://users.bigpond.com/m.kat/html/woodwork/benchframe.jpg

fletty
28th Mar 2006, 09:23 PM
Hi Mkat, welcome to the journey! There are a lot of good books around on workbenches and, if "somewhere" is close to South West Sydney, you can borrow mine. The end frames look OK, the main thing is to make sure that the vertical members run continuously to the floor. Any cross timbers seem to stop the workbench from 'ringing' when you hammer something on it. There are as many ways to fix the top as there are woodies making benches! My bench top is laminated hardwood and has a single bolt into the top stretchers about 200mm in from the front edge. The rest of the top is then held by "Z" clips screwed under the bench top and fitted into a slot on the top stretcher. This allows the bench top to expand away from the front if it 'needs' to move but the bolts prevent the whole top from moving during vigorous hammmering and planing.
Fletty

Dion N
28th Mar 2006, 09:31 PM
I recently dismantled my 1st ever bench after 5 years and recycled it into an upgraded model. Originally it was similar to yours, ie open base with a single stretcher at the bottom of the legs. The top was two 300mm wide, 42mm thick boards. I didn't have top stretchers and the top was attached to the legs via metal shelf brackets. The two top boards were joined underneath by some cleats. Needless to say, this arrangement was not the most sturdy.

After rebuilding my bench, I would offer the following advice:

First, design the legs and stretchers as a frame that will support the top, but doesn't need the top to hold it all together and is capable of standing up by itself. By that, I mean have a top and bottom stretcher between the legs at the sides, and then add a single top rail running across the front and the back. This adds rigidity and, depending on how big you stretcher is, something to bolt you front vice to.

Secondly, the method of attaching the stretchers to the legs. I used bolts, nuts and washers with lap joints and glue. You can then always tighten up you bench. But to really add rigidity and prevent movement of the frame, I added some plywood sheeting across the back, and also on the sides of the frame. 6mm or 9mm works OK and prevents the frame racking out of square. It may not be "pretty", but it works. If you do decide to add in underbench storage at a later stage, you already have done have the work!

Lastly, attaching the top. By building a frame with stretchers running around the perimeter, you can attach the top by screwing/nailing from underneath up into the top (with glue for additional security). Depending on the thickness of the stretchers, you might need to recess the screw heads to get the necessary depth of thread into the bench top

Almost forgot. On the bottom of one set of "end" legs, add a stretcher to the outside of the legs and cut so that the outer face is on an angle to the vertical. Fix a couple of non-swivel wheels to it. When the bench is level, the wheels are off the floor, because of the angle. Once you tip up the opposite end of the bench, the wheels make contact with the floor and you can wheel it around the shed.

mkat
29th Mar 2006, 05:30 PM
Some good ideas there.

Fletty, thanks for the book offer. I'm actually looking to buy one so no need to part with your copy. Which do you recommend? There is one by Scott Landis ('The Workbench Book' I think). Also, are the Z clips you refer to cleats or are they something else altogether?

Dion, I actully prefer putting the stretchers at the top as you say. However, the problem I see with adding the side stretchers at the top is that there is a M & T joints on top of the leg assemblies (see the pic). Maybe further down a bit, but then there is still the issue of the top not being fastened to the side top stretchers so how can I get around that one? The lap joint and ply idea sounds good for reinforcement so I'll go with that, as it will close up the base a bit and I can work on how much storage is possible (more so with top and bottom stretchers). The single top rail that you mentioned, do you mean it should run from one leg assembly to the other attached in the middle of the top pieces?

Dion N
29th Mar 2006, 06:36 PM
Sorry I wasn't too clear regarding the stretchers connecting the two "end frames". What I meant was two stretchers, one at the front and one at the back, that connect the two end frames together. When you look at it from above (without the benchtop on) you would see four stretchers that form a rectangle you can attach the top to.

I can post a pic if my description's not clear enough...

fletty
29th Mar 2006, 07:41 PM
I certainly recommend the Scott Landis book and I also used a number of articles from (mainly) American magazines. The Z clips are pressed steel but bent at 90degrees. One leg is screwed into the undersurface of the bench top and tho other end fits into a slot cut on the stretchers. I have also used wooden "buttons" to achieve the same effect. If you search the forum under "workbench" etc you will find many examples, Fletty

mkat
29th Mar 2006, 08:10 PM
Sorry I wasn't too clear regarding the stretchers connecting the two "end frames". What I meant was two stretchers, one at the front and one at the back, that connect the two end frames together. When you look at it from above (without the benchtop on) you would see four stretchers that form a rectangle you can attach the top to.

I can post a pic if my description's not clear enough...

Hi Dion,

Ok, I get it. As I said before, I'm not sure how to actually physically connect the stretchers to the end frames though because the end frames have m & t joints where the stretchers would be connected to - if I understand you correctly. Maybe it is a good idea to post the pic to ensure I really understand.

Regards,

Michael

Dion N
29th Mar 2006, 08:58 PM
OK, pics att

I haven't used MT joints. I made the front and back as frames and then joined them with short stretchers at the ends. To do this, I joined the front and back stretcher to the legs with lap joints (see underbench photo). The top stretcher on the ends is simply butt joined between the two legs with screws and glue. Not the strongest joint, but the ply panels make up for any tendency to move.

The end photo shows how I made two stretchers at the bottom of the legs. This was to reduce an tendency for the legs to spread and also because the underbench cabinets rest on the inner bottom stretchers (they act like a rail so I can slide the cabinets in and out when I want to move the bench)

The wheels photo shows the setup to make your bench mobile when needed but stable when in use.

If the pics are too small, send me a PM and I'll email you the larger versions

mkat
29th Mar 2006, 09:55 PM
Good stuff Dion. The pics are fine and I can clearly see what you were talking about. The mobility can be handy.

I'll make a couple of sketches and post some options I have, given the end legs are already assembled.

Sprog
29th Mar 2006, 10:43 PM
Attach front and rear, top and bottom rails with blind M&T.
Fit corner braces.
If the top is heavy enough you only need cleats attached to the bottom of the top to stop sideways movement.

mkat
30th Mar 2006, 12:00 AM
Sprog, thanks for the pic and the suggestion. Since I don't know much, I didn't think off attaching the stretchers this way. How deep does the blind m & t need to be to be effective?

Anyway, I've attached a pic (sorry don't know how to do thumbnails yet, but I've managed to keep the pic size small) of some other options below. Which one do you think would be the strongest, including Sprog's design above? I suppose there are further options based on these, so any suggestions are most welcome.

http://users.bigpond.com/m.kat/html/woodwork/base_options.jpg

Shedhand
30th Mar 2006, 12:28 AM
My solution.
http://www.woodworkforums.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=21186
Cheers:)

Mirboo
30th Mar 2006, 03:52 AM
This website might give you some ideas.

http://www.workbenchdesign.net/index.html

Regards,
Mirboo.

mkat
30th Mar 2006, 07:12 PM
Shedhand, thanks for a close up of the stretcher. Is that a #6 sitting in the pic inconspicuously, you did a good job restoring it?

Mirboo, a lot of really helpful links there which will keep me busy.

Thanks again all for the info you've provided. There's enough there to take me through the building process. Looking forward to picking up more skills and learning from my mistakes through this...

Shedhand
30th Mar 2006, 08:18 PM
Shedhand, thanks for a close up of the stretcher. Is that a #6 sitting in the pic inconspicuously, you did a good job restoring it?

Mirboo, a lot of really helpful links there which will keep me busy.

Thanks again all for the info you've provided. There's enough there to take me through the building process. Looking forward to picking up more skills and learning from my mistakes through this...:D The #6 is for scale....I used it to shoot a proud knot off one of the stretchers.
Cheers

Dion N
30th Mar 2006, 10:30 PM
Mike

looking at options 1 and 3, you aren't limited to M/T joints here. You could still use a lap joint.

If you are going to put in underbench shelving at a later stage, twin stretchers running across the bottom might be better than a single central stretcher? Personnally, I think option 1 "looks" the best, but all three would be sturdy.

Dion

mkat
31st Mar 2006, 03:28 PM
Mike

looking at options 1 and 3, you aren't limited to M/T joints here. You could still use a lap joint.

If you are going to put in underbench shelving at a later stage, twin stretchers running across the bottom might be better than a single central stretcher? Personnally, I think option 1 "looks" the best, but all three would be sturdy.

Dion Dion,

That's exactly the kind of feedback I was after following that post, so I thank you. No, I'm not limited to M & T joints and lap joints should be fine. However, I'm not sure if they'll work well for option 1 though unless it's a T lap (maybe reinforced with a bolt and or glue?) and the each top stretcher is close to the end (left and right) of the leg assemblies.

I did actually think of having two stretchers on the bottom, but didn't want to draw another pic. How about two on the bottom and two on the top. This way, I can ensure that the bench top can be secured around the perimeter of the base top.

mkat
16th Apr 2006, 09:08 PM
I've finally started on the bench after cleaning up some of the wood. I've decided on top and bottom stretchers. The bottom stretchers are wider than the top ones, but I've extended them slightly by gluing a block below them to make the tenon wider (like Kirby's bench in the Scott Landis book). I've done this on one side only because I'm not sure whether the length of the stretchers is ok.

Anyway, I have a question about the stretcher length. I've cut them to 1500mm, but but are they too long? I suppose that the length of the tenon and thickness of the timber play a part in the stability over the length. The stretchers are 115mm wide across the length and around 160mm at the ends (ie. for the m & t joint). So, is 1500mm ok or should I cut them shorter?

BTW, I noticed in the Landis book, that some benches have stretchers that range from around 1200mm to 1370mm (ie. Kirby bench).

NewLou
16th Apr 2006, 09:20 PM
Gidday Mkat:D

Would be good to get a Pic of you design to see what you are doing?

1500 should be fine...............the stretchers on my Bench are longer. I can't see how it would be a problem as long as you use solid joinery???

Good luck with it and keep us posted on your progress

Regards Lou:)

mkat
16th Apr 2006, 10:35 PM
Gidday Mkat:D

Would be good to get a Pic of you design to see what you are doing?

1500 should be fine...............the stretchers on my Bench are longer. I can't see how it would be a problem as long as you use solid joinery???

Good luck with it and keep us posted on your progress

Regards Lou:)
Hey Lou,

Thanks for that, I'll post a design pic when I get a chance. I'm new at joinery and things, but things are moving ok so far. It's just a simple bench, but something that will help me a great deal with the work I'm doing. I'm enjoying the work and using hand tools to complete it. Well, I'll be using the drill press with the mortising too...