I am planning a new workbench and have a bit of a dilemma. While many home shops I have seen on youtube videos utilize the garage (think of all those displaced, cold cars), I have seized our home's basement. I am retired now and intend to use this new roubo style bench for many years, but someday it will need to be moved upstairs and out. The problem is that the 4" hard maple top reaches towards 200 lbs. and the legs etc push another 75 lbs +/-. I thought it might be a good idea to have the legs be detachable. On the other hand, I want this bench to be a monolith for hand planing & etc.

My question then is would an unglued mortise and tenon table top mount be sturdy enough. I could supplement this with some lag bolts through the leg top supports. There is a lot of info on the web regarding how to design them, but not a lot of feedback on how benches performed over time. If you have a sturdy workbench how is the top mounted and how has it handled heavy handwork?

3 Answers 3


A workbench top doesn't actually need to be fixed to the legs or leg assembly. As Andy Rae shows in his book Choosing & Using Hand Tools the top can simply sit on round-nosed dowels that project from each leg frame:

Workbench top registers with dowels

At the opposite end of the spectrum you can use something that few woodworkers would conscience in a 'proper' job because they're so utilitarian but they work perfectly well, steel corner brackets:

Two-screw corner bracket

Even the smallest type shown are likely good enough as long as enough of them are fitted, they are placed suitably for the worktop type (to allow for any seasonal movement) and appropriate screws are used, but if you prefer you can use the larger four-screw or six-screw versions.

  • That is really neat to see. Thanks for sharing
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:35
  • but, the brackets are just so ugly.
    – jbord39
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 6:19
  • 1
    @jbord39 I don't necessarily agree but even if I did why would it matter when they're out of sight on the underside of a bench?
    – Graphus
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 7:25

There are more elaborate answers to be sure but tusk and tenon and rising dovetail joinery would lend very well to such a design. I found a perfect image of what I was thinking.

Roubo with tusk tenons

Image from villagecarpenter.blogspot.ca

Tusk and tenons are known for both their strength, when done well of course, and ease of assembly and disassembly.

Now this won't do much for how the legs are connected to the top but the above image also shows rising dovetails. Weight of the top should keep it in place and the risers should allow for disassembly again. Should be able to take that apart several times and still join it back together snugly.

Shouldn't need lag bolts if you do something like the above.

  • That is one impressive vise chop!
    – Ashlar
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:31
  • I really like the two tenon leg detail. There is a video on youtube (I seem to have misplaced the link) that shows making this joint by gluing up the last 3 pieces around the leg tenons (avoiding glue on the tenon faces) which will make this particular connection detail much easier than cutting the through mortises in the full laminated top.This will allow me to snug up the joint without overdoing it. Still I imagine with all that surface area in the joint, there will be times of the year the joint will not pull apart.
    – Ashlar
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:51
  • @aslar: That's a leg vise. Fairly old design, becoming popular again.
    – keshlam
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 6:06
  • How do you line up the screw threadings in the second leg for that thing!?!?!
    – jbord39
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 6:18

In Paul Sellers' blog he describes Building a Workbench which uses a drop-in wedge to make it possible to separate worktop from legs for transportation

enter image description here
image by permission from paulsellers.com. Paul Sellers - How to Build a Workbench – Apron Recesses (part11)

This sort of wedge is self-tightening and produces a very rigid and stable workbench.

On my benches I don’t rely only on the housing dado. I want something that locks and continues to lock the legs into the apron housings and never turns lose. I also want my bench to be disassembled for moving from time to time. A wedged housing dado resolves the issues.

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