Veritas Workbench design alteration

I purchased the Veritas Basic Bench kit from Lee Valley, which includes the plans and hardware needed to build a bench that has two narrow slabs with a tool well in between. It also allows for side skirts with dog holes so I can clamp along the sides as well as on top.
Having used benches with tool wells before, I'd like to eliminate that feature, and instead have a continous slab across the width of the bench. The original design allows for each slab to expand and contract to/from the tool well. If I eliminate the well and use a single slab, how can allow for wood movement and still incorporate the side skirts?
What I'm thinking of doing is simply attaching the end skirts to the middle of the slab only, and leaving the side skirts unattached to the end skirts. Further out towards the edges of the end skirts I'll drill oversized holes to allow for movement. This way the slab (with side skirts permanently attached) can expand away from the center. Assuming the top will be 30" wide, that seasonal moisture content will fluctuate 8% here in the Northeast, and that I'll be using hard maple, it looks like the top may expand/contract up to over 3/4"! I suppose I can account for this in the length of the end skirts, so they don't push away the ends of the side skirts during the dry periods.
I don't know, I guess I'm just writing this to be sure I understand the forces involved and that I engineer around them. If anyone has an understanding of what I'm trying to do, and sees errors in my reasoning, or better alternatives to my proposed solutions, I welcome your feedback.
Thanks for reading! JP
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What you have described is classic breadboard construction.
My bench is also maple with "side skirts" (thicker long edges) and bolted "endskirts" (breadboard ends). Unlike your plan, mine is hard-fastened at the front and is "sloppy bolted" in the back so *all* of the seasonal movement shows up in the back. The movement that I have observed seasonally is only around 1/8" (over a 24" wide top). It's located in northern NY, and heated to about 55 in the winter time. No AC in summer. I suspect that you will see much (much) less than 3/4" of seasonal movement.
Also, I included a groove in the engrain of the field of the bench in which the end-skirts' tongues slide. This is to help keep the work surface aligned through seasonal changes. Just a sloppy bolt might not keep things flush.
-Steve

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Jay Pique wrote:

Might be better to fasten the end skirts to the side skirt on the front of the bench, and let it move at the back. That way you'll always be able to clamp a long board along the front of the bench.
Chris
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Thanks, Chris and Steve. I believe I'm going to incorporate both ideas - attaching the skirt at the "front" and the tongue & groove feature. Buckling was one of my concerns too.
Did either of you use the Veritas Twin Screw vise? That's what I've purchased, and from what I gather installation can be tricky. I'm sure I'll have questions!~ JP
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No. although if I ever did it again, I would be very tempted to install a VTSV. -Steve
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depending on how thick the top's core is, three routed grooves in the bottom for AllThread may be the answer. You can reinforce the areas where you routed the groove by gluing on pieces spanning the groove. With nuts on the ends, in countersunk holes in the apron, you can tighten and loosen things as need be.
And splines - ply splines - to keep the apron aligned with the top core.
Oh and dovetails on the aprons. If oriented correctly they will allow for wood movement while holding where they need to hold.
Have a look at the illustration at the bottom of this page http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/DasBench/CBbench28.html
You didn't say if you're going with the Veritas Twin Screw on the end. If you do, this might be useful to have a look at and maybe study a bit.
http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/DasBench/CBbench25.html
And if you're going to cut dogholes in the inside of the apron http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/DasBench/CBbench30.html
charlie b
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Yes to the VTSV and yes to the dogholes. Thanks for taking the time to document your process so well. I haven't yet milled the apron (actually, I haven't even acquired the lumber yet) but when I do I'll definitely be studying your schematics. JP
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