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Thread: workbench: full width dovetailed end caps...how?

  1. #1

    workbench: full width dovetailed end caps...how?

    I'm finishing my workbench and am thinking of adding end caps dovetailed across the full width. My thought is a tight dovetail over the full width will allow me to not have to glue or bolt anything while still providing stability for the top. The top is about 4" thick by 28" wide and hard maple. My question is how? The end cap will be relatively easy, but how do I cut this dovetail on my top? It seems like a circular saw on its side won't be very precise. Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    I did this on my top as well- a butterfly dovetail cut into the top and cap both. I used a large dovetail bit with router and edge guide, as mine is about 1 1/4-1 1/2" deep x about the same width in both halves. It is easier to hog out waste up to layout lines with a 1/2" straight bit, then last pass with dovetail bit. I glued it in the cap piece, but not the benchtop. It is difficult to slide a dovetail that big into a slot that long and tight, have patience.
    Peter

  3. #3
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    Ben,

    You'd get the most precise fit with least effort if you use the same bit to cut both halves of the dovetail joint; with the tail on the bench and the pin side on the cap, and you can approach final fit in the cap in minute increments on a router table or shaper. Cutting the dovetail on the bench will require some gymnastics on your part, of course.

    Easiest assembly, though, would be with a tapered dovetail, so that the joint goes together with no friction until the final fit right at the end. A bit trickier to lay out and do, though.
    Last edited by Frank Drew; 06-01-2013 at 10:15 AM.

  4. #4
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    Something like this? This is my bench I'm working on. These are semi hand cut but don't go from end to end. The area between is a M&T joint. The DT's are only about 1-1/2 deep.

    Last edited by Bill Wyko; 06-01-2013 at 7:19 PM.
    What you listen to is your business....what you hear is ours.

  5. #5
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    Doing large sliding dovetails over that kind of width would be a challenge and a challenge to assemble. Assuming you've assembled the top, how about doing something like this?


    A tenon over most of the width will help to keep the bench flat.


    The end cap will slip on and slide over to engage the dovetails on both front and back edges.

  6. #6
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    That is exactly the way my bench ends are done but my skirt is 6" tall & my bench is 2-1/2 thick.
    Last edited by Bill Wyko; 06-01-2013 at 7:34 PM.
    What you listen to is your business....what you hear is ours.

  7. #7
    Thanks for all the suggestions. Instead of having the 3 pins like the couple shown here, I was thinking of just having a single monster pin on the bench. The cap will be much more easy to manuever so I'll do the fine tuning on that. Once its snug I'll pound it into place. I'm thinking that having only a single dovetail will make it a little less challenging.

    After reading some of the comments I started looking at more dovetail bits and found that they do come quite large. With a good edge guide I'm thinking this shouldn't be too bad...

    Bill - what type of wood is the darker wood? I'm thinking of doing the same thing.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben W Werner View Post
    Bill - what type of wood is the darker wood? I'm thinking of doing the same thing.
    Looks like walnut.

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    Actually it's Waterfall Bubinga & burl Bubinga panel for the tool tray.
    Last edited by Bill Wyko; 06-03-2013 at 7:35 PM.
    What you listen to is your business....what you hear is ours.

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