Friday, February 3, 2017

Nicholson Bench, Almost Finished

Lots of progress on the Nicholson bench this week. In the picture below you can see that a stretcher across the center of the bench has been added and end caps have been fitted and installed as well. When the top boards are added this essentially makes this a solid maple torsion box of sorts.

The center stretcher has been lagged in place, however the end caps have a tenon that slips into a mortise at the ends of the bench.  I did not want to depend on a couple lags screws to hold everything in place when the leg vise applies outward pressure on the end cap. In this configuration the pressure is applied to the tenon that in turn presses against the side of the mortise. Note that I made the mortise slightly deeper than the length of the tenon. When the lag screw pulls the aprons against the shoulder of the end cap it establishes the width of the bench assembly. I wanted it to fit tight against the shoulder of the end cap and not bottom out in the mortise.

The lags I obtained to use for this bench are squared headed lags with a black oxide finish. I think it plays well with the finish on the vise hardware. I sunk the heads into counterbores on the front of the bench but left them on the surface on the rear apron.

The video below shows some of the other work that's taken place since the last post. Smoothing, making bench dogs and fitting the leg vise.

When making my first bench Jameel Abraham advised me to make dogs for every dog hole. This may seem a bit extravagant but not having to move bench dogs around to different holes saves an enormous amount of time over the course of several years of bench work. If you watch the video and wonder why my bench dogs are so long there is a reason. The Nicholson bench has a wide apron. Unless you have arms like an Orangoutang the dogs need to be at least as long as the apron is wide, otherwise they will be quite difficult to pop up for use.

I also opted to make my dogs from 1" diameter rock maple dowel stock. This extra diameter makes it possible to cut taller faces on the dogs and I've been amazed on how rigid they feel compared to 3/4" diameter bench dogs.

The next post should be the conclusion of the bench build,


I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end. Abraham Lincoln


  1. Hi Ron,

    where did you find the bullet catches you used for the dogs?

  2. The catches are available from several different sources. I purchased these from a vendor on Ebay. I used the catches that require a 3/8" diameter hole.

  3. AT last you have reached the finishing stages of the bench. It is very neatly done with all the finishings. I look forward to see the finally finished product.

  4. Excellent article on Bench top. I recently wrote an article on best planers: