Joinery for Knock-Down WorkbenchesJun 09, 2021
Every carpenter needs a sturdy workbench, but many people also need a bench that disassembles quickly and easily, maybe they need to transport it a lot or maybe they don't have a workshop and have to disassemble the entire bench when "I'm not working and you know that "If you need a bench that is strong but also disassembles quickly and easily, that's a difficult task that will require some clever engineering. I think we all know if we need clever
joinery. Well, I'm adequate." I'm a pretty good people who asks me a lot of questions about the workbench and recently I get the most questions about the will myers Moravian workbench.
The Moravian bench is a copy of a real workbench from the 19th century. It is assembled and disassembled with amazing speed. tools except a mallet, how is this possible? The secret to this amazing modular design mainly comes down to a very clever joint where the stretcher, which is the long part, joins the leg, it's this fantastic connection, it's called a mortise and tenon with fangs, it looks a lot like a mortise and standard tenon, but with the addition of a tapered key that holds the joint together, the Moravian Bank makes good use of this joint, but many other banks use it as well.
workbencheswere also made to be portable. This is a classic Danish design and you can see that the main joint is the fanged mortise and tenon. I'm sure this bench is easy to disassemble and move, but the builder used big, heavy components with a lot of surface area and I bet this bench is very stable when assembled, that's how the joint works. The leg of your workbench has a large mortise cut all the way through and the long stretcher is cut into a tenon that runs through the entire leg with plenty of room on the opposite side, then a smaller mortise is fitted.
That tenon is cut and a taper wrench is inserted into that mortise to hold the joint together and tighten everything. If you need to take the joint apart, just pull out the wrench and everything comes apart quickly, honestly explaining that it's probably harder than Cutting it, we'll cut this joint out of a couple of 4x4 grade construction pieces, although this is not furniture construction, It's still helpful to plane a face and edge as reference surfaces and mark them so they're easy to find again from my wood. It measures approximately three and a half inches wide. This quarter inch chisel is perfect.
It measures approximately a third. I'll place a double pin gauge directly into this chisel and measure my mortise line and then use the same gauge to strike my tenon. lines on my stretcher, this is a very long tenon, so be careful the pins don't slide into the grain and carry those gauge lines along the end grain. I also like to run a pencil across these lines, especially if I'm working on a pale wood, believe it or not, this is exactly like cutting the joint of a piece of furniture, so you still want to draw knife lines on your shoulders, chisel them into a clean knife wall and use it to guide your back saw into a nice perpendicular cut to saw the cheeks.
I'll stay on my line and rip until I reach the maximum depth of my back saw. Now I have a nice straight cut established and can go in with a panel saw and not worry about straying from my panel saw line. It's the traditional choice for cutting extra large
joineryand it works great, of course you may have noticed that big black rectangle at the top left of the shot which is a filming light, maybe I should move it, ah that's it much better on this channel that we demand. the highest standards of film production I stayed on my line throughout the cut so the tenon was nice and straight and didn't need much trimming.
We can go straight to the shroud. I'm cutting the mortise with a large wood framing chisel. But you don't need specialized tools, a standard bench chisel is more than enough for this soft pine lumber and if your widest chisel is only an inch, just use that bench. Bench building is a terrible time to obsess over having exactly the right tools. The job is done with whatever you have, I cut from both sides of the joint, clean up most of the debris and then cut back down to my knife lines. I leave this step for last so I have a little bit of scrap for leverage against the inside of the joint being pretty rough so I do a light test match, adjust the joint pair a little more and there is a good fit.
The joint has very little wiggle room, but it slides together easily, making it super tight, it wouldn't accomplish anything. I have a nice piece of maple and am resawing it to the width of my mortise chisel. I cut off the thick piece and plan it slowly to get a good fit. It can be a little bit narrower than the chisel, which will really help now. I pencil in a 5 degree angle and a curve at the top to prevent it from splitting when I hit the piece. The full key makes it easy to fit my mortise into the large tenon.
You can see I'm sliding the key back behind where it is. The leg will be that way the wrench cannot bottom out in its mortise until you tighten the joint. Cutting the second mortise is even easier because I can use my normal mortise chisel and that extra heavy blade sinks right into this soft pine that I'm especially careful right at the end because I need one side of my mortise to match the angle of my key. . It's not difficult, but you have to go slowly and now the whole joint comes together quite smoothly. What makes this union so great is how easy it is. is to assemble, take your stretcher, slide it directly into your leg, then take your tapered wedge and place it in the mortise of your stretcher and then give it a few taps with your mallet, that's how it works, the wedge is obviously tapered and the we have cut. a corresponding taper in this mortise, so that when we drive the wedge down, it brings everything together and creates a very solid, very tight joint.
This is great, but while I was building it I discovered a way to make it even better. Let's go back to that Danish workbench and go back to the close up of the leg stretcher joint, you can see how the original craftsman used a wide board for his stretcher where I used a beam which is really important because it gives him a very big shoulder up and down. the joint, if we go back to my joint, you can see that I just used this four by four post and that means my shoulders are here on the sides, that's cool, but it's not great because, since you're using the bench, a lot the force is this way, the leg wants to bend back and forth and the stretcher basically has up and down pressure so having the shoulders here is not ideal, much better to have the shoulders at the top and bottom where are they.
We're really going to resist that tendency to go up and down, so if you're going to do this joint, it would be great to use a wide board for this, something like maybe a 2x6 or 2x8 lumber and then whenever you want, take this apart. joint, well just a couple of hits with a mallet removes the shims, you can separate the individual joints, you can take apart an entire bench in under a minute, not bad, but I know what many of you are thinking. Rex, that's a very nice joint. I might even want that joint on my bench, but there's a lot of carpentry, a lot of mortises to cut and stuff, and you know, a lot of us won't know how to do it.
That is until we have a bench, so for all those beginner carpenters, don't you have some other type of joint that works just as well but is easier to make? In fact, yes, there is another version of this board that works. especially well with a laminate approach, so I prepared three white pine boards and they will be the leg of my imaginary bench. The leg needs a mortise in the center, much like the one I did on the last joint, but this one needs to be angled in two directions at two different inclinations, so simply cutting those angles into the center board is a really easy way to create my shroud conveniently.
These huge knots are right where I want to place the binding, so I'll cut them from the top. the mortise is at a 6 degree angle and the bottom is at a 16 degree angle, which may not make much sense as I cut the pieces, but when I start laminating the leg, you can see how I'm forming that double tapered mortise just by Cutting at different angles now my stretcher needs this triangular notch to help it fit into the leg. Cutting the short side is easy, but that shallow angle is tricky to start with, so I'll make a small notch with a chisel to give the saw teeth a place. to bite, then it's a simple rip cut, this joint also needs a wedge and again I'm going with hardwood.
I need the slope of the wedge to be very straight and refined, so I'll brush it together and then finish it. Let's go with this lovely little wood planer that one of my viewers built. It is the perfect tool for delicate work and light cutting before finishing laminating the joint. Let's look inside and see how it works. The notch allows my stretcher to hook onto the bottom wall. of the mortise, then my wedge goes in on top and provides downward pressure to keep those angles engaged and prevent the bench from moving while you use it, the pieces have a tight friction fit and everything stays together solidly very quickly, let's laminate on the last board so we can see the joint in action this joint is somewhat similar to the other one but it works quite differently in this case the stretcher has that notch that makes it come in here and hook over the edge of that mortise, so I bring in my shim and tighten that and this time the shim is providing downward pressure, it's forcing that notch into the corresponding angle that we laminate in this mortise, that downward pressure also brings the joint together and because the frame is engaged over the edge, It makes things very rigid, very resistant to racking.
I also want to note that for both joints I am using hardwood shims with a softwood backbone. Hard wood resists hits with a mallet, but soft wood is somewhat elastic and deforms more. more easily than hardwood, so a hardwood wedge grips very tightly in a softwood frame. Now, like the other joint, this one comes apart very easily and is very easy to take apart and put back together, but when I was building. I just made it with this thin board of softwood because that's all I had in the workshop after I built it. I'm a little surprised at how well this thin board works, it's pretty sturdy, so if you want to build a takedown bench and all you have around you are some thin pine boards, give it a try.
You can probably make it work for many woodworkers. The bench is kind of your first major project, so it makes sense to plan it carefully and then even physically practice cutting some of them. your joints that way when you go to do the actual build you know you can handle the most demanding part the joint where that long stretcher hits the leg that joint is under more stress than any other part of the bench and if you can cut that joint Well, the Rest of your build should work without problems. Now, both joints that I've shown in this video will give you a great stretcher-to-leg connection, but in the first one I showed the vertical tusk tang, which is much more common on historic benches.
You see this other one with the horizontal wedge on historic banks, but less often I don't know if that means it's not as good a joint, I'm not sure, I just want to point that out now that I have a lot of questions about the Moravian bank of will myers and although I have never worked on one I am a big fan of the design, it obviously comes apart very easily and seems very sturdy and very efficient. If you want to learn more about how to build that bench, you can. Check out Myers' website, eclecticmechanicals.com, which I'll link to in the description.
It has PDF plans that you can get for free. It has articles about the bank. It has a construction DVD that you can purchase. Sells bench vises and bench hardware. he's really a one stop shop now and I have no affiliation, we've never met and he has no idea I'm making this video but I still recommend you check out his website now, as good as Moravian is, he probably will. be. It's not a perfect bench for a beginner who needs a disassembly workbench, it can be a bit complicated for them to build it, so I'm always thinking of ways I can make my own disassembly workbench design that could be a little easier. a little more beginner friendly and I'm always thinking about that when I spend time with my family I'm supposed to think about them but anyway this video would never be possible without my amazing patrons on patreon if you did it.If you would like to be one of those people, you can visit patreon.com, rexkrueger, and see all the rewards I have for the people who make these videos happen, even if you're just watching this video, even if you're just a viewer I appreciate you thank you very much for watching
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