My 18th Century Workbench in progress 17


It was with more than a wee bit of apprehension that I partly assembled the bench for the first time. The reason being that I had to mark out the exact location of the shoulders of the long stretchers. The good news is it went together like a dream. The 18th century exposed joinery is bombproof, even without glue, draw pins and wedges. Once those are added it would be impossible to destroy during normal shop work. Here you can see how I clamped the long stretcher in position using two batons of equal length referencing off the underside of the top.


While the bench was semi assembled I used the opportunity to mark the location of the hole that will accept the 20 mm bolt to fix the top to the apron. I used my shop made Witels marking knife with it’s extra long blade.


I then used my tenon saw (as my carcass saw is simply too small) to cut the long stretcher’s tenon shoulders. The rip cuts were done on the bandsaw, because it was significantly beyond the capacity of my tenon saw.


I used my recently acquired Stanley #10 rabbet plane (ca 1910) to clean up the tenons as the bandsaw is not particularly accurate. You can see how the t-channel stops and dogs work in tandem to speed up work like this on my assembly table.


At the halve assembled bench I used a chisel and mallet to perfect the shoulders. You can see how the gap between the two parts of the twin-top acts as an ideal clamp gateway.


I followed the same process as with the tenons of the short stretchers and aprons, in dividing the tenons into three fingers. In this case the outside fingers will extend through the legs to be wedged for more strength.


Once this was done it was back to the bench to mark out the location of the mortises.


Here I used my Festool TS55 to cut the end off one part of the top where I need to install the metal quick release end vise.


At the opposite end of the bench the TS55 helped the start shaping tongue/pins that will fit into the Witpeer breadboard-end. I did the rest with an array of hand tools.


Here you can get an idea of what the bench will look like eventually.


I spent lots of time trying to work out exactly where to locate the dog holes in relation to all the other hardware. I decided on 1¾” from the front edge (as per Chris Schwarz advice) and 3″ centre to centre for the line of dogs working in tandem with the end vise. I added a plethora (in other words, most probably a major overkill) of dog holes that could be used with the twin screw vise, as you will see later.



Seeing that my bench top is a smidgen over 4″ thick, I decided to drill ¾” (deep) x 1″ (diameter) relief holes at the bottom of the top before drilling ¾” (diameter) dog holes from the top down.



This is a 30 mm (diameter) hole where the 20 mm bolt through the top and apron will be covered with a wooden plug.


I used this crappy Chinese contraption to drill the dog holes as close to 90° as possible. The last picture show the Witpeer breadboard-end on which I stood in order to drill the dog holes.


At this stage my plan is to make two planing stops that will fit through holes shaped as pictured below.


Marking out the long stretchers’ mortises.


In order to get the optimum dog hole layout and for it not to interfere with twin screw vise hardware I had to shorten the chain of the Lie-Nielsen vise ever so slightly. In the process I lost about 1″ capacity between the two vise screws. It went from 24″ to 23″.


At this stage I took the three beech boards which were acclimatizing in the shop roof down to process them into a leg vise chop, twin screw vise chop and a cover for the inside face of the quick release vise.


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