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Thread: Workbench Top Construction

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Salado, TX
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    1,521

    Workbench Top Construction

    I'm finally on the road to building my "final" work bench. I started with a workmate, then went to two sheets of MDF on top of a 2X4 base. My current bench is a frame and panel drawer base made of pine and baltic birch with a laminated SYP top. I've had three different vises in seven different positions and drilled dog holes all over the top and now I think I've finally settled on the final configuration. I'm going to build the base out of cherry and the top out of hard maple. It'll have end caps at both ends and the workbenches I've seen connect the caps to the side skirts with dovetails or box joints. Are these joints glued? It seems odd not to glue them, but if you did, the cross grain orientation of the end caps could pull apart the laminated boards in the top.
    Dennis

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Easley SC
    Posts
    108
    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis McDonaugh
    I'm finally on the road to building my "final" work bench. I started with a workmate, then went to two sheets of MDF on top of a 2X4 base. My current bench is a frame and panel drawer base made of pine and baltic birch with a laminated SYP top. I've had three different vises in seven different positions and drilled dog holes all over the top and now I think I've finally settled on the final configuration. I'm going to build the base out of cherry and the top out of hard maple. It'll have end caps at both ends and the workbenches I've seen connect the caps to the side skirts with dovetails or box joints. Are these joints glued? It seems odd not to glue them, but if you did, the cross grain orientation of the end caps could pull apart the laminated boards in the top.
    On mine they are glued and pinned with a dowel. I just finish mine back in October but no problem yet.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Queen Creek, Arizona
    Posts
    187
    Most of the construction details I have seen for this is to glue the end cap in the front (dovetails, bridal joint, whatever). About midway down the end cap place a carriage bolt through the end cap into an elongated slot in the workbench top. This will allow the top to grow and shrink without blowing up. The back portion of the end cap floats. Hope this makes sense. I am in the middle of building my next final workbench . Would love to see progress pics through the construction.

    Rob
    I just want to live happily ever after,
    every now and then.

    -- Jimmy Buffett

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Bloomington MN
    Posts
    59
    On mine the dovetails are glued to the end caps. The end caps at affixed by using a slot and a spline with carriage bolts through the end cap and into the top.

    (If the pictures attach) you can see a couple of pics showing the spline - which is glued into the end cap and dry fit into the top (or the spacer for the shoulder vise) - and one picture showing the bolts holding the end cap in place.

    HTH
    Eric
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Grand Marais, MN. A transplant from Minneapolis
    Posts
    5,512

    Thumbs up

    TOO TOO Nice Eric!
    TJH
    Live Like You Mean It.



    http://www.northhouse.org/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Salado, TX
    Posts
    1,521
    Eric, your table is exactly what I'm asking about. I understand that the end cap can move along the spline and that movement is what I'm worried about. Won't the end caps put enough pressure on the skirts to open up the joint between the skirt and the table top?
    Dennis

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Bloomington MN
    Posts
    59
    The spline is more for allowing the top (when using a solid top) to move since the end cap won't move much along its length. In my situation, with a top of mdf and hardboard, I really don't have that issue, but if I had a solid wood top that did move the solution lies (at least in my bench) in the construction of the tool tray. The skirt on the inside (along the top) of the tray is only screwed to the top, not affixed to the end caps. The bottom of the tray is a floating panel with a small gap. I think that this set up would allow a solid top to move with moisture changes and not affect the end caps.

    (actually, the front skirt is also attached to the top and not directly connected to the end caps)

    I'm far from an expert so maybe someone else will come along and confirm or correct my assumptions.

    Eric

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