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Bench: How important is it for the upper leg rail to contact the bearer?

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  • #602612
    jimbobulator
    Participant

    Hello. Beginner here building Paul’s workbench (very slowly).

    How important is it for the upper leg rail to contact the bearer on my workbench?

    I ask because I glued up one leg frame with the top rail upside down by mistake, so I will have a 1 inch gap between the bearer and top rail due to the offset of the stub tenon being on the bottom instead of the top. My fault for rushing the glue-up.

    I doubt it’s going to sag appreciably, and even if it affects rigidity for chopping, I can use this frame on the right side and I’ll probably do most chopping exclusively on the left side near the vise. I’ve almost convinced myself to leave it.

    Will I have any problems if I leave as is, or should I fill the gap with a narrow board to help distribute load? What do you think?

    Cheers.

    #602619
    Ecky H
    Participant

    Hello,

    the top rail adds a lot of stability to the bearer.
    Therefore I suggest to fill the gap.
    On the plus side: due to the one inch wider rail, your bench will become sturdier than without the mistake. 😉

    E.

    Veni, vidi, serravi.

    Münster, Germany

    #602646
    Sven-Olof Jansson
    Participant

    The very well received Lie-Nielsen workbenches have no upper rail, while the Sjöberg Elite series do, but they’re not in contact with the benchtop.

    My own anecdotal experience from a bench with a glulam top and upper rails screwed into the rear faces of the legs and without contact with the top, is that these rails perhaps aren’t adding that much.

    So, I believe that it is more the width of the lower rail and the thickness of the top that are of relevance for bench properties.

    The top of the Lie-Nielsen is 4” maple(?), the Sjöberg is 70 mm (2¾”) beech (traditional wood for workbenches), and my own is 95 mm (3 ¾”) dense spruce. Mr. Sellers’ workbench is for a 2¾ top made from construction wood (spruce), and that might be touch and go.

    All in all, it might be worth going with your current rail. Should you not be satisfied, you can always screw and wedge a pair into to rear faces of the legs; all in accordance with the principle that workbenches are workbenches are workbenches…

    PS.
    With the appropriate clamps, having aprons on the rear faces of the legs make surface clamping a lot easier

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA

    Attachments:
    #602653
    jimbobulator
    Participant

    Ecky: Thanks, it makes sense. The answer, as always, is don’t take the shortcut :).

    Sven-Olof: thanks for the thoughts. It’s not going to take me much time to fill the gap so I’ll just do it, I think. I’ve already overanalyzed it more than it’s worth.

    FWIW, my top is about 70mm spruce, relatively soft though.

    Cheers

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by jimbobulator.
    • This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by jimbobulator.
    • This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by jimbobulator.
    #602867
    Benoît Van Noten
    Participant

    Put the “correct” leg-frame on the left side (if you are right handed) and put the one with the gap on the right side.
    If you look at the 2012 workbench built: https://paulsellers.com/2012/06/making-the-workbench-7/
    you will see (two last drawings) that Paul proposes an option about the right leg-frame with such a gap (2″) to accommodate an end-vise.
    So it should not be a problem even if you don’t fill the gap.

    #602913
    Benoît Van Noten
    Participant

    I would add:
    – the glued tenons and mortises of the leg-frames ensure the leg-frames rigidity and the 1 or 2″ gap under the bearer will not change this.
    – the bearers are just a bearers.
    IMHO they structural role is rather limited. They are needed to support the two separate pieces: top + tool well. A bench-top of the full depth of the bench, without a tool-well, would not need bearers. Although the bearers also ensure the base remains rectangular (viewed from above) as the top is screwed to the bearers.
    The bearers are not there to prevent bench-top sagging as the top is much more thick; but the bearers must resist pounding while chopping mortises into a piece. Although, chopping normally takes place near the front of the bench and is best done just above a bench feet to avoid rebound (as demonstrated in the Paul Sellers video “bad vibrations”). Furthermore, the top is even more rigid at the front where it is glued to the front apron.

    #603215
    jimbobulator
    Participant

    Thanks for the input, Benoit.

    “If you look at the 2012 workbench built: https://paulsellers.com/2012/06/making-the-workbench-7/
    I had forgotten about the older bench style having the gap.

    “The bearers are not there to prevent bench-top sagging as the top is much more thick…”
    Regarding sagging, I was thinking of the bearer itself sagging , not the top.

    I plan to fill the gap anyways since it’s cheap and quick. Gives me more practice dimensioning. I might end up poking holes in the rail anyways in the future if I decide I need an end vise, but I can cross that bridge later.

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by jimbobulator. Reason: fixed quote
    • This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by jimbobulator. Reason: Apparently I don't know how to make quote tags work. Oh well
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