Currently I am making a woodworking bench of my own design, currently
sawing and chiseling dog holes in the front apron boards. The top will be
around 2" thick, and am thinking of using four 3/4" allthreads from front to
back. I know I have yakked about it with this bench before, but "should I"
use them at all? There are plenty of these homemade benches that don't have
them as I've seen online and in the books, if I did I would have to drill 43
holes, or maybe half that if I drill after sectional glue-ups...
57" + 3/4" spline + 2" vise jaw apron " 2" outer jaw a" + screw handle ends
26" deep, 2" thick top, all hard maple.
Is the allthread really necassary?
Alex - "newbie_neander" woodworker
My bench is one project where I felt mechanical fasteners were
necessary. With the kind of abuse it gets, I couldn't convince myself that
glue alone would be sufficient to hold that monster together. The top is
approx. 90" x 32" x 2 1/4" thick and is held together by 5 pieces of 9/16"
all thread running front to back. The 2 1/4" x6" breadboard ends are pegged
in slotted holes AND lag bolted in slotted holes. I also double pegged the
mortices on the base. I have no doubts this bench will be in use long after
I am not!
I'd suggest using the allthread if this bench is going to be an
"heirloom". If it's just a temporary (only 1 lifetime or so!) bench then do
what is easiest for you. I do think that 3/4" allthread is a bit extreme
though. 4 pcs. of 1/2" to 5/8" would be adequate. Hey! post some pics!
I'd like to see what you've got together so far. --dave
Thanks Dave and MAN your bench is HUGE! With bread board ends it is TOO
I did save the images you posted last year and the recent ones, it is awesome.
I think the size
of my bench and how much drilling there is to do for the allthread, can't
justify it. Thanks
for the expert advise tho...
Alex - "newbie_neander" woodworker
(Good name, BTW!) The only place I have seen this used is to support a
shoulder vise (Frank Klausz bench), where there are significant forces
trying to pull the boards apart. And in my bench, I have predrilled
(except for the last 1/2" or so) to be able to add that in the future
if needed. So far, I haven't needed it even there. On other parts of a
bench have no such pulling-apart force that I can see. If your lumber
is relatively well seasoned, and you are not subjecting it to huge
humidity swings, I can't see what the allthread will add.
And 3/4" seems to be WAY overkill. I'm not an engineer, but what
forces could you possibly be dealing with that a 3/8" or 1/2" rod
Note: Like any other, this free advice may be worth what you paid for
it, so consider it only one guy's opinion.
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.
Thanks Alex that all makes a lot more sense. I think the Klausz bench is
a science project... in order to win a phd, that thing is 'so tech'. But where
I live is
known for "the best weather in the world" (as it were), the changes are mild. We
are on the US southern west coast as a mild desert with rain in the winter, NBD.
Alex - "newbie_neander" woodworker
If you're going to use "store bought" dogs, hopefully you have one to
as a pattern for the dogholes.
If you're going to make your own dogs then you can make them to fit
Either way, making a template and routing the dogholes on the inside
the bench frame is a lot easier, assuming the apron stock is thick
Two inch solide or two 1" layers glued together? The latter will let
you route dadoes in the bottom of the top layer and in the top in
the bottom layer - for All Thread. Lots easier than trying to drill
LONG holes through the bench top.
For the All Thread, if you go with a shoulder vise you really need
1/2" minimum All Thread through the "arm", it's spacer and
the front apron to tie them together.
The top is going to expand and contract - no matter what you do.
How you join the apron parts together is critical. Dovetails,without
an glue, will allow for movement on one axis, but not on the others.
This will allow for expansion and contraction where it's needed but
limit movement where it needs limiting.
If you're using splines to to aline the core to the apron - don't
any glue. That's where the All Thread through the apron and
bench top will hold them together.
Really think through the apron joinery and how the assembly
will go - because the splines complicate things a bit.
Rather than All Thread and holes of somesort throught the bench top,
barrel nuts and the bolts that go with them can be used to hold
the apron front and back to the bench core. Had to use one on
the end of my bench that has the shoulder vise because I couldn't
think of any other way to do it (bottom of this page - with a tip
on doing barrel nuts)
Yes, unless it requires drilling 24" long holes. In that case
consider barrel bolts to hold the apron to the bench core.
Really consider dovetails for the apron. They're strong and yet
another newbie a few steps ahead of you - my bench is done
Charlie, did you or did you not glue the dovetails? If you just glued the
front dovetails and the twin tennon allowing the side aprons a shift through
the unglued rear dovetails, this would allow you to glue the front and rear
aprons to the main benchtop , effectively making them part if the main top.
Had you considered this approach, and if so why did you not use it?
It seems to me that this approach would eliminate bolting of the front/rear
No glue on the dovetails.
Well that's not EXACTLY true. After I'd dry fit my original
arpon it became apparent thea the shoulder vise arm to the
end cap needed some beefing up. Added another piece of stock
to the end cap by glueing. That made the back end of the
end cap look like a half blind dovetail and doubled up the
thickness of the tail of the shoulder vise through dovetail.
THAT required that I deepen the pin socket on the end of
the shoulder vise arm. Since everything is dry fit and the
All Threads hold the apron to the benchtop core, I was
able to correct this oversite relatively easily.
Some people can foresee ALL the potential shortcomings
of their design. Unlike the Pope, who is infammable
(malprop an attempt a humor), I'm not. If there's a
way to screw up - I'll find it. Which is why I try to
leave myself some options. Traditional joinery does
that for me. I can dry fit things, see if they work
and take them apart to fix unforeseen problems. Sort
of nice to have an "undo" option.
Well yes - and no.
The bench top core is two layers of rock maple.
The apron is beech.
It moves more acrossed the grain than it does
with the grain.
The length of the maple and the beech will change
but maybe not by the same amount.
Why tempt fate? (see note about re: If there's
a way to screw up - I'll find it)
I used ply splines to align the bench core top
to the apron top (and the end caps). The dadoes/
grooves they fit in are a little longer than the
splines. Gave me a little horizontal slop which
facilitated assembly. I only needed vertical
control - horizontal control wasn't important.
Basically I'm saying
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.
I have enough "challenges" getting the
critical things right. When I get to where
I can get the critical stuff right consisently
THEN I'll work on the non-critical stuff.
Once again - yes - and no.
Now that I've used this bench for a while I'm
considering splitting the top into two pieces
lengthwise to permit clamping down the center
of the top like a can at the aprons.
I could cut a series of slots down the middle,
wide enough to accomodate a clamp head - but
the core is 3" thick - rock maple. Would be
a LOT easier to take things apart, rip the core
then rip half of the desired gap width off each
of the two sides. Glue in some spacers and
put the thing back together.
OR I could get some of the clamps that go
through holes n the bench top
See what I mean about leaving room for
options? Glue doesn't leave much room
for options. I use it when I need to
and don't when I don't.
see response above re: rock maple core and beech
Not sure where the "secured only at one point" point is
If the apron is secured to the bench top core only at one
point - say at the center of the length spline - ever have
a board twist, bow or crook (see first illustation on this
Think of the All Thread as insurance - you only need it
when you need it. If going with All Thread isn't a major
hassle to do - why not have the insurance? Paint the
washer and bolt if you don't want to see shiny metal.
I only wanted to go through the Agony and Ecstacy (sp?)of
making a real woodworking bench once. But I knew and
know enough to know that there's a lot I don't know. As a
result, I try not to burn many bridges behind me. (Why
anyone, going anywhere, would even think about burning
a bridge, let alone take the time to actually do it - bridges
are hard to get lit - is beyond me. OK - maybe in a war
it might make sense during a "strategic advance to the
rear" - but explosives are far easier and quicker)
Just think about it - OK?
Yeah they will be wood, too classic to me, I couldn't help it. Lignum Vitae
with white oak springs.
The tail vise will be a double ended John Nyquist, 8/4 maple splined to
the front, 47" or 48" long. The right end acts as a left jaw. It's dog holes
will be 1" square, each edge 4" apart, the bench is for small work.
Not like boards are laminated one on top of the other, but rather standing up
faces glued side to side. For reasons of others in this small thread I have
decided no allthread. The bench is too small, and not a radical level of
changes occur here. I am using a Shark fine cut Ryoba, a few chisels and a
Stanley 71. I do it this way to create a little tradition for myself in learning
As above. But it is a tail vise, not a shoulder vise. It's actually "L-ed"
into an end vise with one large dovetail using two LV bench screws
The front apron is all hard maple, so the spline will be the same wood. For
that I will use the dado set on the table saw. If I have a #45 I would use that
instead. I really cannot figure out what you mean by dovetails without glue...?
In California? Not much humidity here. It only effects "white pine" door jambs.
Can't find them big enough. I like the idea though, and I can picture it. You
do mean steel cross dowels, right? Machine screws would go to them in the
main core of the top? That's a bit hard to work though. For "me" that is.
Okay I will, where can I gat a good look at such an assembly?
Re: Barrel nuts for holding apron to core
The unglued splines will align the top of the apron
to the top of the bench core - assuming you made
them so they do that. So the apron will be fixed
To hold the apron to the core I suggested barrell
nuts in vertical hole from the underside of the
bench so they won't show and the bolt into them
through the apron and accessible from the face
of the apron. They don't need to be big beefy
ones - they're just holding the apron to the core,
if you dovetail join the end caps to the aprons
Look at the Apron Assembly Order illustration.
Because you're not going with a shoulder vise,
the left end cap can have dovetail pins on both
ends, just like the other end cap. The dovetail
joint will prevent the apron from moving when
clamping using dogs in the vise's moveable jaw
and a dog in the bench apron. Theoretically
you wouldn't even need the bench core other
than to support whatever you're clamping -
except to act as a back side wall for the dog
So, if the aprons are barrel nut sand bolts
attached to the core the apron can't move
away from the core. By having the tails of
the dovetails on the apron, if the core expands
or contracts, the aprons can move with the
core AND maintain the dovetails strenghth
Look at Tip #2040A at the bottom of this
Flip the illustration over and imagine the barrel
nut is in the core and the bolt goes through the
apron. The bolt only needs to be maybe 3 inches
long - 1" for half of the apron's 2" thickness,
plus an inch in from the side of the bench core
plus the diameter of the barrel nut plus a
quarter to a half and inch. Note that the hole
for the bolt extends beyond the barrel bolt.
That gives you some slop for the location of
the barrel nut.
Barrel nut and bolt layout and accurate drilling
are critical. The center of the barrel cut
MUST be directly in line with the centerline
of the hole for the bolt. and BOTH holes must
be square to the faces into which the holes will
be drilled. You can make the bolt hole a little
oversized to provide for a LITTLE adjustment
The magnet trick will make getting the nut
aligned with the bolt. easier. It's still
tricky getting the nut to the right height
AND the hole aiming the right way
Why go through the aggravation?
Options. If you want to make the bench
shorted later - you can cut new dovetail
tails on one end of the apron and put the
end cap back on. If you want to replace
an apron with a taller one - you can. If
you want to widen the bench - you can.
You'd have to make new end caps but . . .
If you want to change and end vise - maybe
to a Veritas Twin Screw - you can.
The thing about glue is that it's permanent.
Change your mind a month or a year from
now and you're screwed.
No matter how certain you are that your
bench design will meet all of your needs,
after you use it for three or four projects
you probably will come up with at least
one "If only I'd . . . when I built this
thing I could've . . ."
The screw on my shoulder vise is too long
and gets in may way at times. Because
my aprons and end caps aren't glued
together or glued to the bench core I can,
when I get around to it, shorted the
vise screw and either add on to its
moveable jaw (the easy method) or
cut it down, take some wood off it's
spacer and shorted the left end cap of
Unless someone who wants to kill you
is chasing you - don't burn bridges
Charlie, those are some incredibly good ideas. The first thing I pictured
for barrel nuts was slots sawed in for the bolts to lay in, and screw into
the barrel nuts. But drilled holes for that would allow the top to remain
stronger indeed. I would have to do it on a drill press.
I WAS going to just glue-spline the apron into the front, or what you call
'the core of the top'. But I guess there will still have to be a spline, glued
into either the front of the core or into the apron, the apron obviously.
In order to lengthen the bench top in the future, I would have to make a
whole new apron, which incidentally is also the first dog hole strip.
That would also include a longer breadboard end. A whole lot of work.
Not trying to discourage myself, just a consideration.
But Charlie, if I did all gluing instead of your idea, do you really think
it would be bad in the case of wood movement through the seasons of
differences in humidity? I mean, it's all the same maple, including any
splines... here in California we really don't have that problem drastically.
Alex - "newbie_neander" woodworker
If the core, the apron and the splines are all the
same wood, with the grain running in the same
direction then wood movement will not be a problem.
Me, I like to have options. Say I should have enough
rosewood or black walnut to replace the front and
back aprons bestowed upon me . . .
OH - this is probably obvious but I'll point it
The dogs in the apron point towards the end/
The dog in the moveable jaw of the end/tail vise
points towards the bench.
I ALMOST cut them all in the same direction.
If you have a face vise, either use the arpon as
the inside jaw, or if you go with a separate wood
for the inside jaw inset it so the outside face
lines up with the outside face of the apron.
Some round dogholes in the face of the apron,
two or three threaded, come in real handy
for face clamping, board support for planing,
a place to hold stock for sawing dovetails,....
OK thanks. It's merely a first bench built as a learning experience, even
as my it being own design, a learning experience. I held this as a valuable
principle. I don't need to go too far with it but it will have everything I
can muster into it. It's just for small work.
Yes I understand. Just tonight I was sawing and chiseling, and "71-ing"
half dog holes into the inside piece, or half, of the front apron. I did get
them in the "right" direction. But as screw-ups go, I had already done
this with every half hole in both pieces, they came out terribly badly. So
I decided (as someone else suggested) to go with the 1" x 1" size and do
it neatly as possible. By paying attention carefully, I only got three halves
done in three hours.
Yeah the inside 'wood jaw' will be the front face of the apron! The inside
'iron jaw' will be incorporated somehow, I am cofused as to how deep it
should be, the iron is about 3/8" thick, maybe a touch more. Standard US
quick action type 7" x 4". It also must be spaced downwards 'til the tops
are flush, or lower than that to make it deeper by at least 1"-2", and wider
by 4" definitely, maybe 6".
I think Das Bench is is a great one, and man you are into some dogs there!
I like the same idea and I will make differet kinds. Though you and Ken
Vaughn use threaded pegs for another kind of front vise for face clamping,
I like the hanging dog idea which works with the tail vise for clamping the
sides of any given board to the front of the bench. It's in one of the bench
books, I think the Schliening one. I do like the idea of holdfasts as well so
I have two T-type steel dogs for those holes. There will be peg holes in the
Thanks for the great help and encouragement! Seriously!
Alex - "newbie_neander" woodworker
With the notable exception of securing a shoulder vise,
I can't see why it's necessary. There is just no way that you are going to
be able to point apart a lamination that is somehing like 2" by 6' of glue
Assuming that your side aprons are allowed to move (tightly secured in only
at one point), there is no crossgrain seasonal forces to split the top.
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