When I travel with some of my old-school workbenches, it looks a bit like a 19th-century British caravan to India. Since 2005, I’ve strapped my French Workbench into the bed of a tiny Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. I’ve driven it across town with its hinder hanging out the back of a Honda. And I’ve crammed the English Workbench into two too many mini-vans.
These workbenches don’t knock down flat for shipping and weren’t designed to. Society was a lot less mobile when these benches were in favor. And while I prefer these workbenches the way they are – built as one monolithic structure – sometimes you need to build your workbench so it knocks flat.
Though I discuss some bench-bolt schemes in “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use,” I didn’t cover the tricks to installing the hardware. I’ve installed quite a few of these systems in workbenches and beds.
So I’ve written an additional 10-page chapter that covers bench bolts and other systems of making your benches knock down flat into five pieces. Anyone can download this chapter here, for free, whether you’ve purchased the book or not. (The chapter is about 3.5 mb, so you will have an easier time if you do this on a computer with a broadband connection.)
The chapter discusses the pros and cons of the various ways to make your workbench’s base knock-down, including:
1. Solid-wood tusks driven into through-tenons that pass through mortises in the legs.
2. Drawbore pins
3. Lap joints secured with screws or lag bolts
4. Hex-head bolts, bench bolts or threaded rod.
Then I detail how to install the two tricky bits of hardware: hex-head bolts and the Veritas Special Bench Bolts, which I quite like. In addition to discussing knockdown workbench bases, I also discuss some of the different strategies for attaching the top to the base so you can easily remove it.
There might be a little surprise in here for you if you’ve read my book. All of benches feature very stout joinery, yet, I think it’s quite possible to really overdue it when it comes to attaching the top to the base. Most people focus on controlling racking forces when they attach the top. In a well-designed bench, you really should be more concerned about shear forces instead – and those are much easier to manage.
Dec. 20 update: Typos have been fixed in the new file below.
— Christopher Schwarz
The Veritas Special Bench Bolt system and a shopmade jig that makes installaion much easier.