Apron on the Work Bench???

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    Philipp J.

    Just a different approach to the same problems. Pauls design needs the Apron rigidity and stabilisation because there are only crossrails none lenghtwise like on my benches that pretty much serve the same purpose, both designs are rock solid and i’m sure if properly made dont move.

    At the end of the day everyone has to pick their poison, just comes down to the kinda of work you wanna do and what your personal perference is.

    I mean its not like you cant remove or add an Apron depending on if you like it or dont. If you add lenghtwise rails to Pauls design there should be no stability issue whatsoever if you decide to remove the apron down the road if thats what you wanna do.

    Just an idea.


    I like watching Paul build the bench on YouTube. He gives reasons for the design. Worth the time watching.

    Dave Ring

    Besides its benefits already mentioned, the Apron adds stiffness to the bench top–especially important when you are using softwood.


    Hugo Notti

    There are three functions of the aprons in Paul Seller’s design, that I can see:

    Provide extra stability to the bench-top
    Strong and square connection of the bench-tops to the leg frames
    Space to attach something, a vise, a drawer, you name it… (not essential)

    Old style benches, as in the pictures, often have the bench-tops screwed together with huge iron rods and dovetailed end-rails. And there are extra rails to keep the legs square. And I think, the legs are joined into the bench-top, but I might be wrong.

    Another advantage of aprons is the extra weight, which prevents the bench to move about when you are doing heavy work.

    I think, what counts, is the stability of the bench. If it doesn’t move, rock or flex, while you are working, it is fine.



    The purpose of the apron:

    It has a sloped recess at the area where the H frame leg meets. It’s in the backside of the apron so it’s not even seen in the videos. The purpose of the sloped recess (maybe I’m using a wrong and confusing terminology here) is to hold the bench leg and a wedge side by side, so that if the bench moves, the gravity “will” pull it down–making the leg strong and sound again.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by jakegevorgian.
    Hugo Notti

    Jake, that is just one purpose of the apron. And it is very visible in the corresponding sections of the videos about making the bench.



    Very true Dieter.

    Here’s what else I’ve done on mine.

    Small hole to receive a quick changing stick for wider boards where vise grip isn’t enough. You get the idea…

    P.S. Sorry for the beaten up bench–I do this for living…

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by jakegevorgian.
    Michael Deslippe

    Personally I can’t imagine any project so big it completely covers a workbench so there’s no way to hold it down on sides or ends. However, since you can get clamps on the side of the bench, couldn’t you construct the bench with clamp-cutouts at the top, level with the underside of the table and achieve both objectives? I was thinking if you projects are that big, you likely need the rigidity provided more than anyone.

    Benoît Van Noten

    There are different types of workbenches:
    – Paul Sellers;
    – Nicholson;
    – Roubo;
    – Split Roubo;
    – Moravian;
    – Scandinavian/German/Austrian/…
    – …
    Each type uses its own trick to ensure stability and absence of raking.
    If you try to mix the various design, it most probably will not be successful.

    The Paul Sellers type relies on:
    – two rigid A leg-frames for front-rear stability;
    – two aprons combined with wedges to ensure right-left stability. Note that the wedges can compensate legs shrinkage if any.
    – the workbench-top glued to the front apron which makes a very rigid L beam. Twisting this beam would be quite difficult. It also prevent bench-top sagging (at least at the front);
    – the bench-top is screwed to the bearers of the A leg-frames which prevent the base formed by the two leg-frames and the two aprons to become a lozenge under stress. (it stay “square”).

    The base of a Scandinavian/etc. workbench is made like a bed. It relies on two WIDE boards for the long rails at MID-HEIGHT tightened against the leg-frames (by bed bolts or by tusk-tenons) for left-right stability.
    The Moravian uses the same principle with some added benefit from skewed leg-frames.
    The Roubo and split Roubo rely on low long rails and legs tenoned in the bench-top. For the split Roubo you need to make A leg-frames.
    I have seen Nicholson workbenches not made in a consistent manner. Some might be better then others. I am doubting about how they would react to shrinkage. I still have to found a good explanation of the benefit of the angled notch in the apron and its relation to the leg-frames.



    You’ve brought up very good point on the relation of top and legs and shrinkage.

    Along with Paul’s workbenches in the shop, I’ve also made a shorter bench for planing. It’s I believe an English workbench—the one with dovetail h frame legs—-however, for the leg brace, I’ve skipped it and used Paul’s method of tightening the legs to the aprons with a wedge. Works beautifully and it’s portable too!

    As for the benches in general, all of them are beautiful… the French workbenches have a lot of room for under bench storage… the English workbenches don’t have it because of the aprons… however if you’re edgeplankng or running moulding on an English workbench like Paul’s, then it’s a great bench for it.


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