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
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
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
Thanks for reading!