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Thread: New bench - split top or solid slab?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Orlando, FL

    New bench - split top or solid slab?

    I've got this stack of southern yellow pine my local supplier sawed up for me. Being in Florida, this is a local material for me. I'll be building a new bench with it in about 3 months. The slabs for the top are about 11" x 4.5" x 78" right now. Yellow pine doesn't get too much bigger, so I had been planning a split top to make use of the solid slabs. I like the idea of the split top because of the planing stop and clamping capability of the center rail, but to be fair I've never actually used one.

    Now I'm considering just gluing these two slabs together and making a solid top bench with the French-style through tenons. I'd probably use water-activated glue (since they are wet) and some 3/4" oak dowels to join them. I think I could end up with a slab at least 20" wide by 6 feet long, which is pretty much what I was going for anyway. I just like the look of the big tenons. And I think I could have an effective planing stop with a few dog holes and some scrap.

    I have Hovarter leg and wagon vices on the way for the bench.

    What would you do for the top of this thing?

    IMG_0786.jpg IMG_0787.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Shorewood, WI
    A split top is Handy if you want to fit clamps in there, add a batten to push against, use a standard bench hook with a pullsaw, or disassemble and transport the bench.

    Otherwise, a monolithic top bench is simpler, particularly in the base structure, which needs no crosswise bearers if the legs are mortised directly into a thick top.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    South Coastal Massachusetts
    If the main feature of a split top is a central batten, bench hooks can manage the same function.

    Easier construction means you can get onto other projects.

  4. Split top is a good idea.

    20" is very wide for planing flat.

    16" is the most I find comfortable.

    David Charlesworth

  5. #5
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    I believe my front top is 14 inches wide and my left handed side is 12 wide and with a tool tray in the middle. I can remove the bottom for clamping and cleaning I feel I have the best of both words and each side passed through the planner just fine at the same setting.4 inch Bessey K bodies still set across the top with no ends being off the top. If you have the room why not make a left and right handed bench hooked together? The attached picture is a mistake and I don't know how to remove it so here it stays. I found out another use for the tool tray and that is it gives me an area to cut things in half.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Tom Bussey; 08-25-2019 at 2:52 PM.

  6. Tom, that bench is a work of art.

    Would you mind telling me more about the drawers and how they are constructed?

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