Need suggestions: how to attach workbench top to bottom


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I asked this on another forum but I'm not getting the feedback I was hoping for so I'd like to ask here.

I'm building this workbench (almost done) from a few plans and made some changes based on my wants/needs so I have no real help on how to attach my bench. How should I attach this to the bottom? Do people usually use bolts and have them visible from the top or hide them?

Take a look ([hotos attached) at how I made my base and let me know what hardware you think I should use, notice my sides and back are 1 3/4" x 3". In the bottom picture I pulled out the top a few inches to show that the doghole strip is 4.5" compared to the rest of the top which is 3" thick maple. I will be butting up the doghole strip to the front legs and top brace later.

I know you can countersink the bolts but you still see the bolt hole on the top. I know how anal people are with their workbenches, it's like a piece of furniture with the design and appearance of some these days. Heck, even I put ebony inlay around all the joints for looks alone. I was wondering what those people do, do they put bold hole on the top or keep it pristine other than the dog holes? It's less to sweep out I guess. It's sort of like a fine piece of work and then you see visible pocketholes on the joints. I figure that's why people use the barrel nuts for some applications.

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I agree with Wilbur. My own workbench has 4 legs that are mortice and tenoned together and also the top of the legs are tenoned. The bench has the receiving mortices in the underside. It is a drop on situation. no mechanical locking to hold it down...doesn't need it due to the weight of it.

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I'd glue some blocks to the insides of the top stretchers, and attach an appropriately sized bolt through those blocks to the underside of the top.

A second option is to use loose tenon joinery to attach the top to the base.

Wilbur -

Do you think the glue would hold over time? If you were to go the bolted route, I'm thinking grooves on the inside stretchers with wooden buttons in the grooves, then lag screw through the buttons. Just like a table top.

Of course I would probably go with the loose tennons if I had the choice.

Jonathan

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Your design is not vastly different from mine. I don't think you want to bolt it.

What I did was drill one 1" (I think that's what it was) hole in each of the short top stretchers, about one inch deep. I dropped in a dowel about 1.5" long, so that it protrudes about a half inch from the top.

Then, in the bottom of the bench top, I drilled 1" hole about 5/8" deep. When the top is on the stretchers, the holes line up, and it drops right on.

The weight of the top keeps it in place. The dowels keep it from sliding. The lack of glue/threads fastenings keeps me from worrying about movement. Moving the bench is a breeze... just pop the top (mine only weighs about 150#, so use two people), and go. Been in use for about five years now, so I think I'm safe from a longevity perspective, but we'll see.

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Wilbur -

Do you think the glue would hold over time? If you were to go the bolted route, I'm thinking grooves on the inside stretchers with wooden buttons in the grooves, then lag screw through the buttons. Just like a table top.

That's a good idea, too.

I don't think the longevity of the glue will be too much of an issue. The main force that the glue joint will have to resist is racking (for example, when planing a board), and if there are blocks on all four stretchers, there will be some mechanical advantage keeping the top in place, so you don't have to rely just on the glue joint. And if/when the joint eventually fails, the repair is going to be trivially easy.

Personally, I'd go with loose tenons in this case. My workbench has tenons on top of the legs that sit in mortises that are on the underside of my bench top. Dowels like Don suggested are also a good idea.

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I used lag bolts and its included in my video series on www.TheDustyDeveloper.com I believe episode 9

http://www.thedustydeveloper.com/2011/09/building-holtzapffel-inspired-workbench.html

Seems to be working fine and should allow for movement. Loose tenons or dowels are two other great options but require accuracy in the alignment - lag bolts do too but you're going to pre-drill so that takes care of it.

Steve

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I'll vote for the dowel or loose tenon method also, even if you eventually use lag bolts too. Lag bolts may let the top move around a bit, and the dowels will keep this from happening.

Wilbur, I'm curious why you recommended glue blocks instead of just putting the lag bolt directly through the stretchers and into the top from underneath. Seems like a lot of trouble for nothing, but I may be missing something.

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I'm guessing that the top by itself is pretty heavy - if so, I'd just use wooden bullets atop each legs.

Imagine a ~1" diameter dowel that's been rounded over in the shape of a bullet. Then drill/bore a corresponding hole from the bottom of the benchtop. Those small alignment aids plus gravity should be enough to hold things in place.

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Wilbur, I'm curious why you recommended glue blocks instead of just putting the lag bolt directly through the stretchers and into the top from underneath. Seems like a lot of trouble for nothing, but I may be missing something.

My eyeball tape measure pegged the stretchers as being about 4" thick. I figured it would be easier to make up a glue block, drill a hole in it, and attach it to the stretchers, all things considered, than drilling a countersunk hole from the underside of the stretchers, given that the base is already assembled.

Then again, I really hate drilling. But that's just me. ;)

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My eyeball tape measure pegged the stretchers as being about 4" thick. I figured it would be easier to make up a glue block, drill a hole in it, and attach it to the stretchers, all things considered, than drilling a countersunk hole from the underside of the stretchers, given that the base is already assembled.

Then again, I really hate drilling. But that's just me. ;)

Thanks Wilbur! Makes sense to me.

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That looks like a better version of the Tool Table I built for my primary workbench. Following the Plan that Wood Magazine published, they had six 3 inch screws drilled through the base frame up into the table top.

Admittedly, the table top was just MDF.

But the screws never went through the top surface. If I had to rebuild it (again), I'd opt for the dowel/peg/bullet/mortise approach instead. Those screws were a pain to remove when I had to replace the top.

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I think I'm going to do the bullet dowel idea and just have the heavy top sit on it. It's so big and heavey I'm sure it won't budge when I don't want it to. Thanks for the input, I really enjoy these woodworking forums.

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