I'm a new woodworking enthusiast (yet to call myself a real
woodworker, though I have built a couple things), and now that my dad
has given me many of my great grandfather's hand tools (he was a
carpenter), I am interested in going "unplugged" as much as possible.
I'm planning a workbench, and have read a lot on the web. Here are my
1. I want the bench to be easily broken-down, so I'm looking to go
mostly glue-free, with the exception of the table top and the legs.
Are pinned or tusk mortise-and-tenon joints sufficient to render the
bench solid and stable? And would single 2x4s be good enough as bottom
rails, or would I need to double them up?
2. To attach the table top to the legs, I've been considering an idea
which I've yet to read about (which violates a rule I read about not
messing with traditional, tried-and-true plans). My idea is to tenon
the entire leg into the table top (which would be 2x4's on end). I
figure I could create the mortises before glue-up, going about 2
inches deep. That would still leave an inch of table above the leg. If
I can make clean and tight mortise-and-tenons, and drop the legs up
into them, would the table still wobble without rails up top? Or
should I make the mortises smaller and cut real tenons into the tops
of the legs?
3. Is attaching a vise a pain if the depth (height?) of the vise is
different from the thickness of the table top?
All for now. Thanks for any tips you might have!
Take a look at the workbench from the Woodwright's Shop ->
It doesn't use any glue so you can easily take it apart. It looks pretty
sturdy. Mortise-and-tenon joints should be plenty strong.
As to your idea for attaching the table top, it seems wrong but I can't
quite put my finger on it. Maybe because you're blurring the line
between frame and top.
I don't see why a different heights would be a problem. Just remember
that the only effective clamping area you have is the narrower of the
vice and the tabletop.
The only tip I have is not to try and make this workbench perfect. Build
something good, not too big or complicated. You'll find out what you
like and don't like about your design - and then apply that in the next
Why not bolt shoulders to the 2x4s? Okay ... you don't have to use bolts
... but they are probably easier than through tenons with wedges.
In fact, you could use 2x4 runners alongside the 2x4 legs as the table
support and pin the top to the runners.
Do make sure that your legs are either secured at three or more points
(top, bottom and some other reasonable distance(s)) or cross-braced to
But I've got to agree with the earlier poster who urged you to simply
make a bench that works to start with and build from there. FWW has a
pretty nice set of drawings (no dimensions given -- you're on your own)
for one based on pipe clamps for work-holding that I have on my list of
"neat things I'd like to do if I could find the time." No reason why you
couldn't make it with knock-down joints that I can see. I'm still using
my table saw top for an assembly bench and that is starting to get old.
I'm not not at the above address.
Get yourself to a local library that has Popular Woodworking, preferably
over the last three to five years. One of the editors, Chris Schwarz, has
been making various workbenches, or all sorts of heritages, and documenting
the hows and whys of their building and use, for all to see. He writes
well, and works mainly in handtools, except where the power offers
significant advantage. And he has a book coming out this fall on the
Also, from the same folks. Woodworking Magazine has some really nice plans,
What you described with the leg trestle to top connection has been tried,
with some reported success.
Me, I did things pretty simply, with Borg construction lumber and cabinet
grade plywood. But I haven't moved it more than 10-12 feet since
construction finished. Works pretty well for me, but won't be confused for
a dining table or a journeyman's piece.
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