Jake AppleI make stuff. Mostly out of wood.

Design Changes to Accommodate the Split

Filed in:  woodworking

Here’s how I did the split top

Topless Knockdown Nicholson

For the bench top, I went with layered 2x12s. As you already know, the top layer is two 2x12s, about 7 feet long with a 3/4 inch gap in between. The bottom layer has five 2x12s, each about 11 inches wide and 16 1/2 inches long. These are inset to account for the width of the aprons and laid out perpendicular to the top boards. They’re held on with glue, but I used screws to clamp them down, and then removed the screws once the glue was dried.

Top of the Bottom of the Knockdown Nicholson

I’m not sure this was the best way to do it, but it seemed like a good idea to have alternating grain patterns. Another reason: orienting the boards along their length would require a ~6ft edge joint glue up, and I didn’t have many clamps at the time.

Having the split only be the depth of the top boards would allow me to easily drop in a gap stop that makes the top behave as though it is solid. I can also be selective about what holes and/or slots I make to hold tools if I ever go that route.

Here’s why I did the split top

I decided to go with a split top for these reasons

  • At the time, split top Roubos were everywhere
  • The idea of storing chisels, marking tools, and saws in the split seemed appealing
  • Dropping stop blocks in the split could make it easy to brace and hold work pieces
  • Likewise, planing the edges of smaller 3/4 stock would be simple, as I could just drop it in the split
  • Using the gap for clamping

So far, I haven’t found the split top to be incredibly useful

  • At the time, split top Roubos were everywhere what’s good for French bench, might not translate to an English bench
  • The idea of storing chisels, marking tools, and saws in the split seemed appealing The Texas Heritage Woodworks Saddlebag looks is better in that it doesn’t take up bench top space
  • Dropping stop blocks in the split could make it easy to brace and hold work pieces A doe’s foot, a holdfast, and bench hooks serve the same purpose
  • Likewise, planing the edges of smaller 3/4 stock would be simple, as I could just drop it in the split Edge planing in the middle of the bench is awkward.
  • Using the gap for clamping Haven’t found a need for this yet, but I’m not discounting it either

In Hindsight

I would just either just build it as designed or face nail the top boards like Richard Maguire, since I don’t really need the knockdown features. There was just something so appealing (i.e. familiar) about holding everything together with lag bolts.