stevenbunn Sun, 04/03/2016 - 11:07

Build a Shaker Work Bench


Install the End Caps (Cont'd)


Thread the hole drilled in the tail vise end cap.
Before installing the right hand end cap on the work bench, a hole, through which the tail vise's bench screw passes, needs to be drilled. The hole then needs to be threaded to accept the threads cut into the shaft of the bench screw. In the photo above you can see marked out front and top faces of the end cap. The front, threaded end of the cap, is cut down in length and height so that the body of the tail vise can pass by and over the cap as the tail vise is opened and closed. A counter-sunk hole for a 4-inch lag bolt has already been drilled. The lag bolt once screwed in place holds the end cap in line with the front edge of the bench. Sliding dovetail keys hold the end cap on the bench, but allow the top to move freely. The rectangular hole cut through the end cap will house the sliding guide bar of the tailvise. The guide bar acts as an out-rigger and helps keep the tailvise from drooping and helps hold the vise in position as it is opened and closed.
stevenbunn Sat, 04/02/2016 - 08:02

Build a Shaker Work Bench


Install the End Caps


The end caps are secured to the top with dovetailed keys screwed to the ends of the top. Use a dead blow mallet to drive the end cap in place.
I have used dovetail keys screwed to the sides of a case to attach molding for years. Properly fitted the keys hold the molding tightly in place while allowing for seasonal wood movement. The same technique scaled up works for larger pieces of wood, like the end caps on one of my benches, as well. The keys short length, 4 to 4-1/2 inches, keeps the distance between the screws to a minimum, and reduces the chance of cracking the top as it shrinks and swells. The end cap is screwed to the top with a single lag bolt at the front of the bench. I use this adaptation of the sliding dovetail to attach the end caps on every bench I have built over the years. The row of wedges fitting snuggly in the dovetailed groove milled in the end cap also helps keep the bench top flat.
For more information about building a wooden tail-vise, the fixed jaw with dog-holes, and the installation of the end caps which support both, read my article in American Woodwork magazine, titled "Wooden Tail-vise," October-November 2011, #156. If you can't locate a copy, email me and I will mail you a photocopy of the article. The article has all the construction drawings and dimensional details that I don't think are appropriate for a short blog post.
stevenbunn Fri, 04/01/2016 - 07:18

Build a Shaker Work Bench


Glue the Top Together


Glue the top together. Then cut the ends square using a circular saw and temporary fence clamped to the top. Cut the top to a final length of 76-1/2 inches.
stevenbunn Fri, 04/01/2016 - 07:03

Build a Shaker Work Bench


Assemble the Bench Top


The bench's top is built of 8/4 hard maple. Maple boards for the top were passed over the jointer to flat face one wide face of each board. The stock was then thickness planed to a thickness of 1-3/4 inches. When planning the bench I was going to thickness the boards for the top down to 1-1/2 inch. The maple I purchased was much flatter and less twisty than many boards. I ended up having to joint and thickness the stock less than I expected. When all the boards cleaned up at 1-3/4 inches in thickness, I decided to leave well-enough alone and go with a thicker top. Bench tops should always be as thick as possible, why cut away material if I did not need too to flatten the boards? The boards for the top were then jointed, cut to width and glued up to form a top 26-1/4 inches wide. The boards were left a little longer than needed at glue up. Then trimmed square to a length of 76-1/2 inches. To the top were added two 1-3/4 inch thick end-caps, and a 3-3/4 inch by 3-3/4 inch square laminated fixed jaw incorporating square holes for traditional dogs. These increased the size of the top to 30 inches by 80 inches. A traditional tail-vise was mounted on the right front corner of the top.


Use an outfeed table for support when you joint the top's long heavy boards.


stevenbunn Thu, 03/31/2016 - 20:44

Build a Shaker Work Bench


Make and Install the Drawers


The drawer fronts were milled from soft maple to match the rest of the work bench. The drawer sides and back were made of ash. I like full extension drawers so I can find whatever is lurking at the back of a drawer. The depth of the bench base allowed me to extend the drawer sides six inches past the drawer's back while still having a drawer of sufficient depth to be useful. The extended sides let me pull the drawers out to their full depth without the drawer falling on my toes. For convenience and to save both time and money, I cut the drawer bottoms from 1/2 inch plywood. The plywood bottom is rabbeted on it's front and sides to form a tongue 1/4 inches thick and 5/16 inch wide. The tongues slide into grooves cut in the inside faces of the drawer sides. The drawers are dovetailed together: half-blind dovetails at the front and sliding dovetails at the back. The sliding dovetails were cut with a 1/2 inch dia. dovetail bit set 1/4 inch deep. I cut the sliding dovetail pins on both ends of the drawer backs using the same jig I used earlier, repositioning the temporary fence on the jig to achieve the cut desired.


To dress up the bench and to make drawer fitting more forgiving, I used a thumbnail shaped overlapping edge on the drawer fronts. This profile was formed using a 3/8 inch radius roundover bit and the tablesaw.


Use a dead-blow mallet and block of wood scrap to drive the back's sliding dovetail pins into the dovetail dadoes cut in the sides. Tap each side of the back alternatively as the back is driven down to prevent putting too much pressure on the dadoes and breaking out the sides of the dadoe. The long drawer sides allow the drawer to be pulled out to it's full depth.
stevenbunn Wed, 03/30/2016 - 07:12

Build a Shaker Work Bench


Install the Doors


Installing one of the doors.
Fitting doors to a case is an article in itself. One I have already done. If you click on the Articles link, under the Steve heading on my home page you will find a list of magazine articles which I have written over the years. I wrote an article about door installation that appeared in FWW back in 1994. My editor, Charley Robinson, video taped the steps I follow to insure a good door fit. That video was made into a DVD that is still available from Taunton Press. I wrote another article on the subject for American Woodworker. Since that magazine has lapsed, I don't know who you see about purchasing past issues or reading the article on-line. I have had good luck finding older issues of FWW on ebay.
stevenbunn Tue, 03/29/2016 - 20:04

Build a Shaker Work Bench


Install a Floor in the Left Bay


Install the splined floor in the storage bay. Half the boards laid in place on support cleats screwed to the base rails.
The remaining open bay is going to be used for storage. All it needed was a floor and a pair of doors. The floor is made up of random width maple boards, splined together screwed onto ledger strips screwed to the cabinet's bottom rails and stretchers. To allow for seasonal shrinkage and expansion I ovalized the screw holes on the under side of each board before fastening the boards down.
stevenbunn Tue, 03/29/2016 - 19:43

Build a Shaker Work Bench


Install the Base Board


Glue and screw a base board around the bottom of the cabinet. All screw holes were counter-sunk and bunged. After the glue dried, the bungs were pared level with the surrounding base board with a sharp chisel.
stevenbunn Tue, 03/29/2016 - 19:32

Build a Shaker Work Bench


Drawer Dividers and Runners installed


A view from the front of the drawer dividers and runners installed in the base
stevenbunn Tue, 03/29/2016 - 19:19

Build a Shaker Work Bench


Drawer Dividers and Drawer Runners


I seated the drawer dividers into the dovetailed dadoes using a dead-blow mallet and a block of scrap wood to prevent breaking the edges of the dividers dovetailed pins. I added the drawer runners, slipping the tenon, cut on one end of each runner, into one of the two mortises cut into the back of each divider. This is a dry joint without any glue. The tenon is seated loosely in it's mortise. I left a 1/8 inch gap between the divider and the tenon shoulders. The runners were screwed to the center stile of each bent. This way the frame members can move with the seasons without pushing any of the dividers out of plane with the rest of the bench front.

Fitting a drawer runner tenon into the mortise milled in the back edge of one of the drawer dividers.