I'm about to start milling wood for a workbench but I have a couple of
ideas holding me up. The first is that a lot of benches I see have an
apron / trim around them that covers the end grain. I'm worried about
wood movement breaking apart the apron or causing the bench top to
bow. Is this something to be concerned with? How do people plan for
that? Is it OK not to cover the end grain for will I get more
movement in the top that way? I'm thinking about leaving the endgrain
exposed or adding an apron but securing it with bolts/oversized
I also can't decide on square holes vs. round. I lean towards
square. Has anyone had issues with round holes that have gotten out
of shape? Are they still useful after that?
If it matters, I'm recycling some rough cut 4x4 stock that has never
been pressure treated. It's all ash. I've also read group archives
but could use some fresh ideas. Especially about the apron.
The apron part is tricky and there are many schools of thought that
I'm sure have led to blows at times. I built my bench out of three
laminated 3/4 MDF and put red oak 2x4 all around it. With biscuits. It
has stayed pretty flat over the three years since it was built.
I put round holes in it. Afterwards, looking for something else, I
came across a chat session between a woodworking group and Frank
Klausz. He was asked "round or square" and emphatically stated
His dad didn't spend all that time with a chisel making square holes
in his benches for fun! "Round holes will cause an odd shaped piece to
pop out of the vise! I hope I do not hear any more questions on round
He sure typed it like he meant it.
So if you decide to go with round, don't tell Frank.
As for myself I have yet to find a piece so odd-shaped piece that it
pops out of the dogs when I work on it, but Frank probably runs more
board feet through his bench than I do.
I think what you mean by apron is a breadboard end. My bench has beadboard
ends. The end has a tougue and the top has a groove. The end is bolted to
the main top with two countersunk bolts and a captured nuts. *one* of the
two bolts has an elonggated hole to allow for crossgrain movement.
Seasonally, I see less than 1/8th inch of movement across a 24" width.
re: square vs. round:
Square holes, cut at a 2-degree (88?) angle dadoed into the main top
Best of luck.
No Apron. Breadboard ends floating on a tenon. Held on with machine
bolts (one fixed, one elongated slot). Use a forstner to drill a nut
hole in the bottom of the bench and either use a square nut or drill
and tap a bit of 1/8" steel as a nut. One can make the tenon on the
end of the bench with a router, likewise the mortice in the breadboard
ends. Use the same 16/4 stock. Recess the machine bolt head into
the breadboard ends.
If you use the 16/4 stock, the front and back of the bench will have a 3.5"
apron by default. A 3.5" thick ASH bench would be quite sturdy.
Well if you use "allthread" through the bench top to hold the front
rear aprons on - loose splined to the bench top to keep the tops of
everything aligned - the through dovetails for apron to ends allows
for expansion/contactions of the top while keeping the ends from
bottom of this page illustration should show you what I mean
Why not both - square in the apron and round "in the field" -
of course that you have an end vise to apply force to that end of the
Don't make the apron TOO tall - you often want to clamp something
down to the bench top and a wide apron can be a problem
There are all sorts of things to consider and problems to resolve
when designing and building a woodworker bench that works for
the type of thing YOU do, or want to do.
Here's my "genesis to completion" Das Bench you may find useful.
The bench links at the bottom of the page will fill in plenty of
ideas, approaches and methods of construction
Have fun designing YOUR bench.
ps - GET THE VISE HARDWARE BEFORE YOU START CUTTING WOOD.
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