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Build this Woodworker's Workbench to learn Mortise & Tenon Joinery

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As my interest in woodworking developed and my projects became increasingly complex, I realized it was time to put my makeshift work surface (sawhorses and an old door) aside and build a proper woodworker's workbench. Instructable members have published some great benches (see members jdedge and scotttland), but I wanted to build one that would meet my specific needs while providing the opportunity to develop a new woodworking skill at the same time. I settled on a plan from Fine Woodworking Magazine called the "Not so big Workbench" (plan available on the finewoodworking.com website for around $12 when on sale). This workbench is constructed using mortise and tenon joinery which I decided was a necessary skill to learn since I have a number of future furniture projects in mind. The plan also offers a great deal of tool storage which, while not part of this instructable, I plan to add to my workbench in the near future.

Note: This instructable is not intended to be a substitute for the actual "Not so big Workbench" plan. Instead, the goal is to provide a general overview of how to build any workbench using mortise and tenon joinery. If you decide to build the "Not so big Workbench" it would be wise to purchase the plan at the finewoodworking.com website.
 
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texeiro2 months ago

Nosotros los españoles para poder enterarnos de los Instructables tenemos que usar el traductor de google.

Sirvan estas letras para revindicar para todos los hispanohablantes la traducción de estas paginas

atentamente

texeiro

Branco650 texeiro2 months ago

I was looking for this casters (or wheels) and I found them on Rockler a few days ago, now I see them on your bench work tha is exactly how I want them to be on mine:)

Teixeira I'm from Portugal and Rocklet asks allmost 60 dollars to send them :(

Can't understand why so much for Rockler shipping costs?

Very good bench.

KentM (author) 2 months ago
Sorry, spelled it wrong. Should be ROCKLER.COM.
texeiro2 months ago

I wonder where is the retractable wheels. In Spain not find them on any site. Do you know somewhere online? Could make a blacksmith?

thank you very much

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KentM (author)  texeiro2 months ago
The website is rockier.com. I don't know if they will ship to Spain. You could email them from the customer service page on their website and ask.
texeiro2 months ago

I wonder where is the retractable wheels. In Spain not find them on any site. Do you know somewhere online? Could make a blacksmith?

thank you very much

FGLX9QPHNVBFC90.LARGE.jpgr.jpg
jhettula7 months ago

this looks great !

jluther38 months ago
I would agree that using a spade bit to drill the mortises would cause the bit to deflect or wander into the adjoining hole.
broken board8 months ago

excellent ible

so much detail.

bk-paradox9 months ago

Its best to not overlap the drilling, just drill as close as possible without overlapping. This will ensure smooth drilling and also its just as easy with the chisel cleanup

nexsad10 months ago

Have you ever heard about METRIC SYSTEM?? thank you!

soundgod0611 months ago
Great job, both with the project and the Ible. However, I fear you have made one small miscalculation, namely the capacity of your casters. In a caster arrangement such as this it is considered good practice to use casters that are each able to hold the expected load. This "over rating" is to account for the added stress when a wheel is rolled over a bump. Rolling over a bump can create a considerable load on an individual caster. The force could be calculated by those engineers among us taking into consideration travel speed, weight of bench, size of expected bump, etc, however that is some complicated math so it is much easier to simply use the 4:1 safety factor.
KentM (author)  soundgod0611 months ago
The Rockler catalogue describes these as heavy duty casters (100 lbs. per caster) and pictures them being used on a very large workbench. Since my bench weighs somewhere in the range of 100 lbs, I feel confident they will do the job. Still, your excellent explanation will not be forgotten. However, isn't it strange that the point you make isn't clearly explained in the catalogue descriptions?
clazman11 months ago
I applaud your endeavor! Very nice job!

I would like to make a few comments, I hope they won't be taken negatively, They are not to be taken as criticisms, only my thoughts.

When ripping to size:

One point to consider is internal stresses in the wood. Granted that allowing the wood several days to stabilize is a good idea, there are situations where the internal stresses in the piece of wood remain. For example if one rips a 1 X 12 in two pieces of nearly equal width there is a good chance that the pieces will be out of true to a point where they will NOT return to a “nice board. The reason for that is that stresses are now unbalanced, Utilizing boards near to the desire width can minimize this problem. Also utilizing boards free of knots will obviously help. Not to say that I haven’t used wood with knots. I have and only if the knots are “sound”. I think knots can add character to the finished piece.

Not having a jointer or planer I have used a similar procedure many times, However, I have given up on surfacing with the blade. I have experienced poor surfacing using this method. The blade is loaded asymmetrically and flexes. The result is an “out of square” cut. This flexure is only attenuated with a blade that has lost some of its “edge”. My “fix” is to cut with some waste on the other side of the blade. This helps balance the loading. And yes if the one side of the blade is duller than the other only compounds the problem. Also, attempting to “surface” exacerbates asymmetrical wear on the blade.

I must say I haven’t googled “jointing on a table saw”. My comments are from my own experience and analysis.

When drilling out the mortise:

I would not suggest using a spade bit. Spade bits can NOT be used when boring overlapping holes. Only disastrous results will occur if attempted, both to the work piece point of view and worse, the harm it may inflict on the woodworker. Forstner bits, as you used, are a very good choice.

Adjusting for an uneven floor:

Shimming under the legs is quite helpful to adjust for an uneven floor.

Watco Danish Oil:

I’m also a big fan of Watco. Decades ago a friend of the family introduced me to Watco and a procedure for applying it. A procedure I have used since that introduction.

He demonstrated applying Watco with 220 grit wet dry sandpaper. The result was an extremely smooth surface. It greatly reduced ssurface porosity by filling in the minute pores with the sandings. I have utilized this procedure on end grain with exceptional results.

Regards,

Jerry C
KentM (author)  clazman11 months ago
Thanks for taking the time to contribute such a thorough comment. I've built several pieces of furniture (see my table instructable) and had really good luck ripping lumber to size on the table saw. However, in those cases I was working with S4S oak lumber and not the rough 4" x 4" douglas fir used on this workbench. I know you are correct regarding the blade flexing when surfacing a board so I just skim off enough material to eliminate the cut lines and then do quite a bit of sanding. For the type of projects I've attempted to date, any minor imperfections (like a board slightly out of square), haven't compromised the end result.....however, having a jointer and planer would sure be nice!
Wroger-Wroger11 months ago
I built a little work bench that because my workshop is small, I had to limit it too 600mm wide and 1200mm long - and it's like nothing anyone has ever built in the whole wide world.

One of the properties that I consider to be essential is MASS - the sheer inertia, that comes with a lot of material, that is intelligently braced and strongly built.

Think HUGE fat sumo wrestler.

While there are advantages to wheeled benches, I have a definite preference to benches that lay there like beached dead whales, and don't move around when the planing, chislling, bending, etc., gets heavy going..

The 2" flat chisel with a HUGE rubber hammer behind it... and rough cutting away the excess etc..

Nice though, but I think it needs bracing though, and wheels? Not so much.
KentM (author)  Wroger-Wroger11 months ago
I guess only time will tell how well the bench holds up. The process of "pinning" the mortise and tenon joints (explained in step 4) is supposed to strengthen the frame and keep it from racking over time. As far as the bench being on wheels, the wheels are retractable. After the bench has been moved to where you want it, the wheels are raised so the bench rests firmly on the ground.
chuckyd11 months ago
At our local woodworkers guild, several members built workbenches using 2x4 framing lumber for the top. The pieces were planed down to get square corners, and then they were all glued together, with the 2x4s on edge. This made for an extremely durable top,a and some benches are 8 feet long without intermediate support. The tops were flattened with routers on a sled, and then covered with sacrificial hardboard. That was a great deal more effort than you went to, but that's just to illustrate another way to do it, and probably save a little money, too.
John Sphar11 months ago
Nice job. I was involved in a woodworkers group who all built the Fine Woodworking bench as a group effort(before I joined). One modification which you can still make is boring "dog holes" over the length of your bench and mounting an additional vise to the right or left end. This allows you to clamp up long stock over its length as well. Good luck on your woodworking!
nwlaurie11 months ago
Very nicely done - thanks for sharing!
Shiseiji11 months ago
Your hope is met! Thanks for sharing your journey.
M.Ploeger11 months ago
Very nice, thats make me happy
As we say here in South Afrika, this is a lekker little bench!
Thanks
Johan Van Tonder
urbanmx11 months ago
Great bench thank you for sharing.
vincent752011 months ago
Nic work.
Good simple ideas to be reminded when I build mine !
Thanks for posting
bob303011 months ago
Great job. Thanks for sharing.