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