Knocking Together a Workbench
On the final day of a workbench class, the students either assemble all their benches or pack up the parts in their cars to assemble things at home.
Assembly is easy. I usually do it by myself, but I never decline offers of help. Plus, it’s the best part of the entire job because it is usually followed immediately by beer.
During this class at Dictum GmbH in Germany, I built a bench along with the students to leave with the school. Because I was also teaching, troubleshooting and helping out, I was running way behind everyone when the day began on Sunday morning.
Before lunch I cut all the mortises in the top (thanks to the Mafell chain mortiser), fit all my legs and stretchers and planed off all the tool marks on the pine. After lunch I drilled all the holes for the drawbores and prepared my beech pins and wedges.
The rest was easy. Here are some things to consider after you watch the little movie.
1. You don’t have to use glue in the mortises and tenons. Drawbores and wedges do the work just fine. Glue is cheap, so why not use it? I prefer hide glue but we had used it all up the day before.
2. All the drawbore pins are lubricated with wax. I usually use paraffin, but we used all that up. So I used beeswax.
3. The base joints are fit a tad loose. The joints to the top are fit tight. This makes assembly easier.
4. Use a big sledge to drive the drawbore pins. And big-diameter pins. These are about 3/4”.
5. Once you start assembly, do not stop. But do not rush. I made a mistake in the film because I failed to double-check my cabinetmaker’s triangle, but it worked out OK in the end.
6. Drive the wedges into the top until they stop moving. If they crack, stop hitting them.
7. Throwing axes after assembly is not essential, but it is highly recommended. Follow that with beer.
— Christopher Schwarz
Other videos in this series on building a bench in Germany: