Workbench Construction

I put a lot of thought into making a workbench that is very functional for traditional woodworking.  In doing so, I investigated various books and references on the topic and tried to combine as many of the features that I felt I needed into my design.  I wanted a beefy understructure for taking planing forces, dog holes that could double for holdfasts in the top and down at least one side, good quick-acting vises located for jointing and sawing, an overhang along one side for clamping, a beefy top for taking pounding, and knockdown assembly since it may need to be moved out of our basement someday.  I made a few layouts in AutoCAD but largely worked out the details as I went along.  The following images provide insight into the general construction process.

 Part 1, Understructure

Started with 4x6 and 4x4 spruce beams for the understructure.

First I rough cut the legs and chopped the mortises into them for the crossmembers and stringers.  Tenons were then cut into one end of each leg for mating with the base crossmembers.  Also, I added mortises in the base crossmembers for the leg tenons and cut tenons in the upper crossmembers for mating with the legs.  I relieved the center bottom regions of the base crossmembers so that the workbench would rest on "feet" to increase stability.

The two leg trusses were then assembled with adhesive.  You can see that the rear legs were pre-drilled with 3/4 inch round dog/holdfast holes.

Next the ends of the stringers were layed out, the wedge tenons were cut and work was started on the large tenons.  I purposely left a lot of material beyond the wedge tenons to ensure that shear out would not be a later be a problem.  I also wanted the stringer tenon shoulders to seat firmly against the legs to help prevent racking so left pronounced tenon shoulders all the way around.  Also oriented the 4x6 stringer beams such that they provided maximum resistance to racking.

The tenons were all cut with a rip-handsaw.  A finished stringer is shown in the background.

The tenons were cleaned up with shoulder planes and a Stanley 289.

This image shows the legs trusses assembled with the stringers using the wedges. The design allows removal of the stringers for easier moving.  Also, if necessary in the future the wedges can be further tightened as the joints loosen with time and hard workbench use.  I used reversed double wedges so that the wedge mortises could be cut with parallel sides.

Second view of the assembled understructure showing the "rear" which is set up with dog/holdfast holes to aid holding wide board and doors for jointing.  Not shown are two dowels that were installed in the top of the upper crossmembers very near the two "front" legs that locate the workbench top.  

To Part 2, Workbench Top

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