The Last Hardware Swap (I Hope)


With the finish drying on my knockdown Nicholson workbench, I began working on a removable shelf to go below the bench. (Forgive me. I am so stuck in the 18th century when it comes to wanting a shelf below my bench.)


Then our postal carrier made an unscheduled stop at our front door. In his hands was a box filled with hardware bits I had resolved to try at the recommendations of readers.

Most of the bits were no better than the steel tee-nuts I had installed on the bench. But one of the bags in the box was heavy. Real heavy. This bag of 14 malleable iron mounting plates (McMaster-Carr 11445T1) was impressive. The plates were sand-cast, thick and heavy.

So I put aside the planks for the shelf and began removing all the tee-nuts to install the iron mounting plates.

I could be wrong, but I think I’m now done.


I tried to destroy the threads of one of these mounting plates and I failed. The wood between the plate and the bolt’s washer just popped and crushed instead. I’m sure I could ruin the mounting plate, but the bolt and wood would also be ruined in the process.

So I installed all the mounting plates and reassembled the bench. I was going to shoot a video of the assembly process, but that will have to be tomorrow. I’ve got 63 pending e-mails to deal with tonight.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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33 Responses to The Last Hardware Swap (I Hope)

  1. Yeah, that looks pretty damned solid.

  2. Andy Roeper says:

    They look like flanges for pipe hangers – great idea.

  3. richardmertens says:

    What happens when winter comes and the top shrinks? How have you accounted for movement?

    • The bolts allow movement – quite a bit, actually. But I don’t expect much movement. This pine is at equilibrium with the shop, and yellow pine doesn’t move much once it is at equilibrium.

  4. says:

    Hi Chris The mounting plates you purchased from McC can be purchased at any plumbing supply house. They are called FM plates. Larry Pezza

  5. Marty Backe says:

    I’m tempted to build a bench along these lines to experiment with and hold me over for a few years. However, I would really want a face vice (Benchcraft). Would you see any issues?

  6. That is beautiful. Well done.


  7. Did you double the thickness of the top for the entire area between the legs, or just selected places?

  8. Does the upper knock-down bolt on the left front leg pass through the crochet?
    (Great looking bench! Looks as strong as a Roubo.)

    • That is one of the details I am not 100 percent happy with and will demonstrate on the video. The crochet partially covers one of the bolt heads. So you need to first unbolt the crochet before you unbolt the front apron.

      I should shorten the crochet, but I like the way it looks.

      This is a prototype – I’m trying to work the bugs out.

  9. Those cast iron look nice, but I can’t find a UK supplier. These look like they will do the job as well, but not so pretty:

  10. Chris, what’s that protrusion on the apron in the first picture above?

    • It is a “crochet,” or hook. It was used on benches in place of a face vise. You use the holes in the aprons to support the work from below and push the work into the hook with the plane. I’ve been working with one for nine years now. Love it.

  11. richardmertens says:

    Most people want vises. They’re easy to use and effective. What are the pros and cons of a crochet vs. a vise in that spot?

  12. Michael Davis-Cheshire says:

    I put the first coat of the 3 part bench finish you recommend on a saw bench as a practice run before finishing my new bench. It has been over 24 hours and it is still tacky. Is this typical?

    Sent from my iPad,


    • tsstahl says:

      I’m not Chris. I’m not a finishing expert. I have used that concoction before and my experience says the answer is ‘no’ to ‘maybe’. Assuming of course you are talking about the one referenced here:

      There are a lot of variables at play. My inexpert inclination is to first look at the thickness of coat applied.

      Here is my experience. When applied thin, the first coat is maybe a little grabby, but not quite tacky the next morning. A little time in the sun did wonders to speed up the curing on the first coat. Successive coats were tacky the next day, but I went a little thick after the first coat.

      I mixed a quart mason jar and used it on a bunch small things until it was gone. I’ve moved on to Danish oil coupled with shellac for most things, but still use spar varnish/polyurethane on the high use stuff.

      Remember, my advice may be worth the price paid. 🙂

  13. Likely you put a little too much on. Try wiping it down with a clean dry rag. Thin coats work best.

  14. davidcockey says:

    Could basic nuts, split type lockwashers and flat washers be used? They might require a second person to hold a wrench on the nuts while the bolts are initially tightened.

  15. theindigowoodworker says:

    Malleable iron top plate connector for use with a 3/8″ all-thread rod. at Menards. 99 cents

  16. bkoholliston says:

    Love those plates but I would shallow mortise them in for even more spin-proofing and for looks.

    I was going to suggest that you just make something like these with cold-rolled steel bar and a drill and tap. Easy work if you have a drill press.

    • theindigowoodworker says:

      I’ve done that many times. It’s a very easy job. Doesn’t take all that long either. I’ve found that many woodworkers kind of get all nervous when you talk about metal working though. At a buck a piece I can’t make them for that if I count my time. It just depends on what my mood is for doing it if I make them or buy them.

  17. jbakerrower says:

    I am so jealous of your SYP… can’t get it in central PA as far as I can tell.

  18. Daniel Roy says:

    Quite surprised nobody asked the height of the bench top!

  19. tpier says:

    We all know its 38″ high.

  20. Donna R Hill says:

    You may have already had a volunteer for this but I would gladly whip out the SketchUp drawing for this and post on 3d warehouse after your approval. As you know, I’m local and could stop by to take measurements etc for the drawings.

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