The Holtzapffel Workbench – Day 483

(Part 25 of a series)

Saturday brought the completion of the dog holes on the bench. I drilled 5 holes the same distance from the back that the front ones are from the front edge. These were 12″ on center. The top of the workbench is complete aside from any potential finish, and the only thing that’s really left is the face vise.

I moved the bench around back where it was a long time ago, back to back with the table saw. From what I’ve been seeing with my Sketchup models for the new storage, that’s the best spot thus far. It does mean that the face vise would go in the traditional location, and I might have to pull the bench away from the wall for any long planing. Not ideal, but not the worst thing in the world.

Where earlier I was going to put some chisel storage under the bench, with the addition of some nice cherry shorts I picked up, I’ll be making a traditional cabinet. I’m hoping once I pare down all of my plywood I can store something else under the bench that otherwise is a space waster.

Until I acquire the face vise, this series is once again on hold.

The Holtzapffel Workbench – Day 477

(Part 24 of a series)

Sunday saw the rest of the front row of dog holes being completed. There are two that if you were to look down the line, that would be slightly out of line. The bit wandered a bit, apparently. Once it makes a hole that close, it can’t really be fixed without effort. Cosmetic problem only. I wanted to get the back row done as well, but a late start prevented that. I did decide that 12″ on center for the back row would be sufficient. If needed, I can add 6″ on center and it still look normal. 9″ then 4.5″ would look odd.

All I need to do is verify I can get close from the front to back row with the holdfasts. They have about a 6″ range, so 12″ between would work. Even if it’s 15″, it’s fine. They certainly don’t have to overlap, but I think I need support for small, long boards if need be.


So, just the back row of dog holes and adding a face vise…then it’s done. I may add a shelf to the bottom at some point, but spare ply for now does the job fine.

The Holtzapffel Workbench – Day 476

(Part 23 of a series)

It’s been well over a year since I took a break from the workbench, I had no idea it would be this long before I got around to finishing it. It’s not quite finished yet, but the end is much, much closer than the beginning. The reason it took me so long to have this next update is that I was scared. Scared of the technique used to flatten the top. It turns out I shouldn’t have been that afraid to do it, but perhaps it was best until I was truly comfortable doing it.

The shop has seen some changes since I left the project, and some of those changes were the impetus for working on this again. I have once again become proud of my shop, and having a flat and fine workbench to do assembly and handwork on is key to that. I followed closely what Marc Spagnuolo (The Wood Whisperer) did in his video, and used runners clamped to the bench and a router sled. Where he used 2x6s, I have not had great luck with those so I bought a pine board and jointed then ripped it. Figured it would be more stable. I attached those to the bench with clamps, and oriented them to be 1/4″ above the surface on three corners. I then attached string and adjusted the final corner to be in plane. For instruction on the technique, check out video 174 on his website. I didn’t have as big of a bit, but 3/4″ worked fine.

Long process summed up, the flattening went well and I only had one screwup where I let one end of the sled slip off of the runner. I can attribute that to trying to go too fast. Also, I developed lines on the bench where I inadvertently applied pressure in places. A healthy application of 60-grit helped, but they are quite visible. More visible than tactile, thankfully. I also accidentally polished up three of the vise bolts, thankfully no damage to the bit.

Top flat (or very close), I got to work on the dog holes. I decided to space them 3″ apart on center along the line of the vise dog. I got 12 of the 23 planned first row done before the sun and my energy ran out. Here are some pics, this would be Saturday.



The first two holes are restricted from completion due to the vise, and I’ll have to remove it to complete them I think. Careful application of a forstner bit (if I can find the 3/4″) might work. While I won’t be able to use my Gramercy holdfasts in these two holes, I should be able to use dogs if needed.


The Holtzapffel Workbench – Day 39

(Part 22 of a series)

This is the end, for now. The bench is functional, and in position, and everything else will be put on hold for a little while while I recover. I’m not stopping, but I need a break from this to step back, be proud of what I accomplished, and then transition to the finishing stages. Don’t expect any immediate updates to this, but I will say when the project is done and completely finished.

The bench is on what I refer to as a shakedown cruise. It’s basically done, now it’s time to refine and refresh. I will be checking the flatness and wind of the top soon, and I will probably use the router sled again to take care of anything, and finish it up with a card scraper. Dog holes will be added toward the front of the bench, and I will research just where I want them to line up. I’ll then hit the whole thing with a coat or two of BLO, and down the road when finances recover I will add the Vertias Twin Screw to the front left of the bench.

I’m extremely happy with how it turned out, flaws and all. It measures 60″x24.5″, and is about an inch or 1.5″ below the surface of the table saw, which will work great to use the solid core door as an outfeed and assembly table. Even without using glue on the joints, it’s very solid and doesn’t move at all going along with the plane. It’s heavy, but it’s light enough that I can move it away from the wall easily. I’ve left the bottom open, as opposed to making a shelf for now, because I’m thinking of putting a 20-gallon separator under the bench, an ideal spot. There’s room under each end of the bench to store things, right now I’ve put a couple of things there out of the way but I will be investigating what I want at each spot.

I took the Gramercy Holdfasts out of the box and treated them with a bit of 220-grit paper to help them stick in the dog holes a bit better. I tried out using them on a bit of the pine I had left over, and they work great. I have this old belt that I am going to donate some leather to the holdfasts so that they don’t scratch anything valuable. In the leg holes, they work great. I took a few trial passes with the #5 and it felt very secure. It was weird not having either the piece or the bench wobble as I was doing it. The legs aren’t perfectly square to the edge of the top, but it will work just fine. When I was installing the base, I think the left front tenon was too long, and drawboring it didn’t work. I could drill it out and do it again, but I’m fine with it for now. Just cosmetic, and if that changes it can be rectified.

What follows are all the pics I took yesterday after a quick cleanup.









The Holtzapffel Workbench – Day 38

(Part 21 of a series)

Took some time today to finish up the end vise install and flip this thing on it’s feet. What a mess.

I started out this morning by continuing to chop out the spot for the vise, but quickly didn’t feel like messing with the chisels anymore. I grabbed the router, which still had the massive straight bit installed, and used that to get most of the waste out. That was a mess, it was snowing pine shavings everywhere. Once I got the vise fitted in place, I took a trip to Lowe’s to grab shorter bolts – the ones I used to mount it to the old bench were 6″, and I opted for 4″ this time. While I was there I picked up some BLO to finish the bench with.

Fueled up on Waffle House, I came back to tackle installing the vise. Locating the holes went fine. No problems there. Unfortunately there was no way to come at it from the top side without doing it from the top side. So, I had to sadly disassemble my old workbench. Since a hurricane showed up (gee, thanks), I couldn’t just move it outside but it had to be destroyed. So sad. Pieces out of the way and the floor swept, the bench came down to earth. Luckily my table saw and extension table held the weight beautifully. The bench is now solidly on all fours in position in the shop. Yay! Major milestone! Before I flipped it over, I gave it a once over with my ROS and 220-grit paper.

Time to finish the holes from the top and do the counterbore. Since my small bits weren’t long enough to get all the way through the top, I had to use a 1/4″ bit. Bad choice. The hole was too large for me to use a forstner bit to make the counterbore, and it tore up the holes like crazy. Some work (a lot of work, actually) with the 3/4″ auger and the chisels made it work, but it’s ugly. Some effort was required to mount the end vise, but it’s in. Unfortunately the forstner bit is stuck in the brace, and I need it to make the dog holes. Grr…

The shop is a disaster, with inches of sawdust on the ground, tools everywhere, pieces of workbench everywhere…it will be a couple days probably before I can get to work on making sure the top is level. Leaning toward using the router again for that, but with a 3/4″ bit I don’t know how it will turn out. This time I will use stops on the sled so I don’t have any more screwups, for sure.

No pics. It’s too embarrassing.

The Holtzapffel Workbench – Day 37

(Part 20 of a series)

Long afternoon in the shop today. I checked on the workbench top assembly, and it seems to be structurally sound and good to go, minus a nibble or two about aesthetics. I removed it from the clamps and turned it flat so I could do final assembly on the base. Nothing out of the ordinary to report there, the base went together pretty much as expected. I hauled the base outside and got to work truing the ends of the top so I could locate the mortises for the legs. Once it was done on both sides (this thing is huge and heavy, and hard to turn around in the shop). I went to town on the mortises with either a drill or my router, depending on which one it was. The router bit didn’t extend down far enough, so there was still significant work to do with the chisels. I officially lost the edge on my large bench chisel, that will take some work getting back. But, I got a bunch of use out of it. Doing the drawbore on the leg tenons didn’t work out like the rest did. I guess my tenons were a touch too long to draw in properly? Any way you look at it, it was disappointing. I don’t think structurally it will be an issue though.

I’m in the middle of cutting down the area for the end vise to be installed. More work with the mortise chisel, I’ll be glad when I can put it away for awhile. Tedious work. The metal part of my vise isn’t very tall, so I don’t think I’ll require the plywood spacer. As a matter of fact, it sits below the surface as-is, and I need to figure out if I need to leave the little piece of the top overhanging the metal. I might make a cover, an idea I just saw.

Completely wore out. Next time out in the shop the vise will be ready to install and I’ll be applying a finish before turning over the bench and having it fully assembled minus the dog holes and the twin screw vise. No funds for the vise right now, perhaps in the fall.


The Holtzapffel Workbench – Day 35-36

(Part 19 of a series)

A momentous weekend. After gluing up sections four and five up Friday, section six got added on Saturday to complete the two halves. The day I had been dreading came about on Sunday.

I had wondered how I was going to get the two halves nice and flat. I kept them small enough to be able to run through the planer, but neither side was even enough to run through as they were. Shim and run through the planer? I ultimately decided not to, and made a router sled after noticing the solid core door sitting behind the bandsaw. I took two of the long boards I had left over from the top, and ran them through the jointer to get one edge nice and flat. Then I ripped them down on the table saw to just over 3″ – just tall enough to clear the lamination. I took a spare piece of 3/4″ ply and two shorter pieces of pine and made the router sled. I took the biggest straight bit from my Stone Mountain bit set, hooked it up to the beefy D-handle router and got the bottom of each lamination flat enough to give me a nice parallel face on the opposite side via the planer. I’ll explain this setup in another post at some point.

After taking each section down to 2.75″, I put them in the clamps and glued them up. I will say that I regret not passing them through the jointer one last time to get a good face, as I can see a small gap right in the middle of the top. I may decide tomorrow if it’s a bad lamination to rip them apart and joint them. Luckily, with the top a bit wider than it needs to be I have the room to do this. It will just be a pain. However if the gap is simply cosmetic, I’ll either hide it with sawdust or leave it be.

Tomorrow, if the lamination is fine, I will make the mortises in the top to receive the legs. I picked up some maple 3/8″ dowel from Highland to do the drawbore on these, and I will be using glue here as well, unlike the stretchers. The end vise should be installed on Tuesday and perhaps the dog holes and final completion on Wednesday? The schedule is of course tentative. I might get lucky and knock out two items on one day. A bunch of rain is forecast for this week due to the hurricane, so I’m glad I have all the jointer and planer work done.


The Holtzapffel Workbench – Day 34

(Part 18 of a series)

Finally back in the workshop today and more work on the bench. I took two of the three remaining sections for the top and processed them and glued them up. Didn’t take that long at all, I’m starting to get used to the process now. Tomorrow I will glue the last remaining section to this to create two halves of the top. I’m a bit behind where I wanted to be, but mitigating circumstances delayed me getting to this point.

Some exciting news, I ordered two sets of Gramercy holdfasts and they might be here as soon as next week. I’m really excited in getting these. I decided to only order two sets instead of three. One on the surface, one on the legs should be fine, at least for now. I figured I could spend on these if I delayed buying the twin screw.

Afraid there’s not much more to this update. Tomorrow won’t be too interesting either, but that’s how it goes.

The Holtzapffel Workbench – Day 29

(Part 17 of a series)

Good progress on a Sunday, and it didn’t take much time at all. I was in and out of the shop in less than two hours, and most of that was fudging around.

The first ‘mega’ glue-up went fairly well, and I was ready to make more progress on the top. I decided that it would work out best if I chose a two-halves approach. So I selected another 3-board glue-up to add to the large glue-up of seven boards, and that would complete one half of the top. I ran it through the jointer, but the process was slow. Since I had one board not even with the other, I took the block plane and selectively took some off to speed things up. Once I got a side flat, I ran it through the planer until everything was even on both sides at just under 3″ depth. Then it was over to the clamps where a good coat of Titebond II was slathered on both pieces and it was set into place. I had quite a time lining things up here, but I think I did well. Had a bunch of squeeze out, but I was able to clean it up an hour or so later before it hardened too much. Won’t be a problem at all.

Then I decided to complete the short side leg assemblies – meaning, connecting the front and back legs with the short stretchers. I had connected one leg up, but it was time to mate it so I had two freestanding assemblies. Same process as before, drill, mark, drill, drive the dowel home.

I had my first major screwup of the project so far with the drawbore. I had been marking the extent of the tenon on the legs, then bringing the mark closer to the stretcher so I wouldn’t get too close to the end of the tenon. Well I had done well on three joints, but the fourth I forgot to bring the mark in and I drilled at the spot I had marked for the end of the tenon. Oops. So I re-marked and the joint is fine, but it had two extra holes that didn’t do anything. I filled them with dowel and glue, but unfortunately the mistake is there for all to see. No structural issues, thankfully, just cosmetic. Oh well, if that’s the extent of my errors on this project I will have done very well.

Since I was so industrious this weekend, I think the proposed schedule I did needs to be revised somewhat.

8/20 – fourth and fifth sections of top processed and glued

8/21 – sixth section processed and glued

8/22 – two halves evaluated and glued

8/23 – end vise started, mortises for legs

8/24 – tentative end?

Aiming for a Friday completion, but Monday is probably more realistic.






The Holtzapffel Workbench – Day 28

(Part 16 of a series)

This might actually be day 29, since I started on a Saturday. I have no idea at this point.

Another great day in the shop. I started out by beginning the dog holes in the legs. I took my tape measure and marked at 12″, 20″ and 28″ from the bottom of each front leg. I used a 3/4″ forstner bit in my cordless drill to get the holes started. I chose the forstner because it has a nice sharp point in the middle to accurately hit the middle of where I want to drill, and the edges of the bit easily let me figure out if the drill is perpendicular to the workpiece. I used the drill and forstner as far down as I could go easily, backing out a couple of times on each hole to clear the waste. When the hole got too deep, I busted out the rusty brace and 3/4″ auger I bought a few weeks ago. Since the hole was pretty deep and straight thanks to the forstner bit, the auger followed the hole down until I just broke the surface with the tip on the other side. I flipped the leg over and used the auger again to complete the hole. This resulted in a pretty clean exit, although there was naturally some rough parts. I repeated the same process for the other five holes. I put a tall dog hole on the left leg even though eventually it will be covered by the twin vise. But until I get it, I can still make use of a dog here.

Once I got all the holes done, it was time to put a roundover on the entrance. This is my first major screwup of the project, although the end result turned out rather well. I used my laminate router and a roundover bit and did the first hole. I wasn’t happy with how it turned out, so I deepened the cut. Too much, oops. Now it’s a very big radius roundover on a little hole. However, the look isn’t bad at all. Wanting to keep everything the same, I put the same depth on all of the holes. On one hole I got a very interesting pattern with the grain and it looks like a vortex. I don’t think I’ll have any issue with the holddowns, I just can’t do what I did to the top.

With the dog holes complete, I turned my attention to making some drawbore holes. I used a 3/8″ forstner to make the start of the holes, and a twist bit did the rest. I then inserted the tenon and make the hole marks with the forstner, again using the tip as a reference. I removed the tenon, transfered the marks a bit closer to the shoulder (1/8″, perhaps) and drilled again with the forstner. I wasn’t planning on doing the actual drawbore today, but I got a bit carried away. I had a 3/8″ hardwood dowel in my collection, and I saw that it fit, so I used it. I cut enough off the main dowel that I should have had enough to use some pliers to remove it eventually, but I apparent;y can’t sight measure that well. I tapered the end of the dowel, inserted it, and drove it home with my mallet. Not enough to remove. Oops. So, two drawbore M&T joints on the base will be complete, without the use of glue. If I have to, I suppose I could just drill them out, but I think it will work well. I used my flush cut saw to trim the dowels flush and that part is done. Oops. But it really is a strong joint, and it’s a very tight one now. I’m pleased, even though I jumped the gun.

I still had quite a bit of time left in the day, so I decided to process what I consider the front two sections of the top. I ran each over the jointer to get one side – top or bottom – flat in reference to each board, so it could go through the planer. This took some work, as the weight of the glue-ups are deceiving. My arms got a workout. Having successfully made one flat reference side, I put that side face down through the planer and settled on a final thickness just a hair under 3″. I would have preferred more depth, but I had to take it down this far to account for errors in my jointing process. I won’t be dissatisfied with a 3″ thick top, though. I again put the sections in the clamps, applied the glue, and tried to be very accurate in getting the top portions even with each other, as much as possible. I clamped, loosened, clamped and repeated along the line until everything lined up close enough. I can tell there is a slight difference in height with my fingers, but I’m hoping I can take care of this either through the planer or with a plane.

It was a very productive and satisfying day. Perhaps tomorrow I can either glue up two more sections, or add another to the main glue-up. Haven’t decided which way to go here. I’m only a few days away from being able to do final assembly on the base and remove the old table. Very exciting. We’ll get to see if all this effort resulted in a worthy addition to the shop.