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Thread: Attaching Workbench Top

  1. #1

    Attaching Workbench Top

    I am cheating a bit here, as I had always wanted a nice laminated maple top workbench, but did not want to go to the expense and hassle of putting one together. Well, when I went to a local school auction, I picked up a 50" x 76" maple workbench top with 4 clamps attached, and now I'm just going to be building the base for my new workbench.

    This thing weighs about 250 lbs I would estimate, and I'll be using a base design similar to the fancy curly maple bench in one of the recent wood rags on the market (I don't remember which one, but my FIL picked it up when he saw my bench top). It's basically going to be four 4x4 oak legs with an apron at the top and bottom to make a cabinet. Unfortunately, the article does not indicate how the top is attached. I'm inclined to attach it using pocket screws, but noticed that some people have suggested that wood movement on the top may be an issue.

    Any suggestions on how to attach the top would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Alan DuBoff is offline Former Member (by the member's request)
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Last edited by Alan DuBoff; 02-27-2008 at 08:58 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Charlotte, NC
    There are a lot of ways to attach a top to a workbench. With that kind of weight, you can put a couple of dowels in the base and drill holes in the top for it to set in, no glue! Many bench tops are lag screwed through the upper rails. Like Alan said you can mortise your legs into the top. If I remember correctly, I lag screwed mine.

  4. #4
    Thanks, guys! I know some would find pocket screws to be heresy on a nice workbench, but I promise that I'll at least do pinned mortise and tenons for the upper and lower rails to appease the neander-gods. Square walnut pins sound like a nice contrast to the oak.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie
    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Nelson View Post
    ......With that kind of weight, you can put a couple of dowels in the base and drill holes in the top for it to set in, no glue! .......
    That is exactly what I did. I even drilled the holes oversized to make alignment easy. I promise you it will work just fine!! My top is not as heavy as yours, but it never moves. And when I have had to move the bench it is really nice to to just lift () the top off.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.

    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    Drawbored mortise and tenon connections are great as long as the bench doesn't need to be broken down - ever.
    If you need to take it apart to get it out of the shop (should you ever move, relocate your shop, or pass this bench onto someone else), recessed head lag bolts are a fine option - connecting down through the top directly into the top of the leg - no mortise / tenons required. Another option would be bench bolts (,41637&pb=1#pb)
    or break-down furniture hardware - assuming it's heavy duty enough.

    The past few issues of Woodworking magazine have gone into some depth on building various types of woodworking benches. You might take a look at - go to the discussion forum, and search by "workbench". You'll come up with tons of really useful information. I'm cooking up a hybrid mutt of their "Ruobo" bench and the one in the current issue. At any rate, it's a great magazine - no advertisements with a lot of good information on hand tools that other magazines generally don't cover.

    good luck with your bench.

    Paul Hubbman

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    sometimes timing and luck are everything.
    I happened across a link to an artical about bench building that focuses on attaching the top to the base using various types of knock down fasteners. If you click on this link

    and scroll down to click on this download link

    WB-Chapter9-appendixR2.pdf (3.49 MB)

    you'll get the illustrated 10 pages on various options and installation techniques.

    Hope it helps.

    Paul Hubbman

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