Bench Build Prototype 1 – Nicholson Assembled

Once the legs were completed came the very straightforward assembly of the bench as a whole.  For this prototype I used 3″ decking screws for all component assembly.

The most prominent feature of a Nicholson bench is the massive aprons on the front and rear of the bench, so wide that when the legs are affixed to them no further bracing is need to resist wracking.  This same feature is present even on the end aprons.

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For this bench, and the benches we will be building in the July 25-29 workshop at The Barn, each apron face is made from an 8-foot-long 2×12.  I screwed the legs to the face aprons, leaving the face aprons a tad proud of the leg tops so that I could plane them all clean and co-planar.

In order to make the apron serve as a vertical surface for work holding, a 2×12 back plate was necessary to make the apron slightly more than three inches thick so that holdfasts can be used.




Before installing the back plates I determined the length between the legs on the long axis and cut the 2x12s to the length necessary to allow for this dimension.


I then notched each of them to receive the 2×6 cross-battens to which the top planks are affixed.  These battens also serve the same function as the back plates for the apron in that holes drilled through the top in the same place as the batten will suffice perfectly for holdfasts.



Just before attaching the planks for the top we will be cutting angled slots on the very top edge of the apron which will serve as the mortise for the retracting planing stop.  (I did not do that for this prototype, ditto the vertical planing stop running though the top of the bench).


The back plates were planed even with the tops of the aprons and it was ready for the top planks to be screwed down.  Following Mike Siemsen’s lead I left a space of 1-1/2″ between the top planks to allow for a movable stop to be set there.

A selection of holdfast holes and you are done.  I did not get this done for mine, it went to work as my main finishing bench immediately.

I’ll start blogging about the Roubo bench option in a week or so.


If you are interested in spending a week at The Barn building an heirloom Nicholson or Roubo workbench the week of July 25-29, drop me a line here.