I am playing around with the idea of doing a workbench that can be disassembled, using pinned mortise and tenon joints. I haven't found anything that could be used where two spans meet at a corner (leg) and be able to pin each one with a removeable pin.

I had a bit of a play around in Sketchup today and below is what I came up with - but I really want to know if this method would weaken the joins to the point where it's not worth doing?

The idea is that the pin on the end of the component on the right would pin the component on the left, therefore to assemble you would first slide the tenon on the left in, then the tenon on the right, then the pin through the tenon on the right to hold it all in place. Disassembly would be in the exact reverse.

Note that the pin to go through the hole on the component on the right is missing, but would have to be something that was either wedged or other to ensure it didn't move.

Also note that these will be 2x4 hardwood, for strength considerations.

Workbench Tenons

  • 3
    Nuts and bolts make a strong, disassemblable joint. If your corner posts were 4x4, this might work. 2x4 are only 1.5" wide, which doesn't allow much material to work with.
    – Tester101
    Jan 16, 2014 at 10:15
  • I love the drawing, it shows a great concept. As already mentioned, it will split as soon as the legs are put under the stress that a bench would have under use. The sideways stresses would be its undoing. Metal to hold the assembly together is the way to go in theses types of situations.
    – Jack
    Jan 16, 2014 at 13:41

2 Answers 2


I'd be worried about the wood splitting, especially in the beam on the right. That's only an inch or so of material to hold it firm.

If you disassemble the workbench then the largest piece will be the surface so you only need to keep the rest smaller than that. So I suggest assembling the short side permanently.

Then you can use a dado joint to attach the long beams and use a through dowel to be able to put a wedge in.

  • Sorry but I can't visualise that. Assemble the short side permanently how? Which do you envision is the short side? (should have specified, in mine the left is the short side, right goes across the front) Any hint on your through dowel? Otherwise I'm kind of leaning towards your idea of assembling the short side permanently - it makes sense, as the top is 1800x750 anyway, the short side will be as wide but shorter :)
    – MattJenko
    Jan 22, 2014 at 6:57

One approach to take-down tusk-tenon (PDF) (not what you are using, but look them up - much easier to actually get apart, yet very solid when set) wooden workbench design is to offset the rails vertically, so each has full bearing in the post. For a table, you could just offset the tenons (one is in the top half of its beam, the other is in the bottom half of its beam, and the tenons pass over/under each other) - that's probably too weak for a workbench.

If you want full support, you can offset by 4 or 5 inches for the part you tenon through, and then add the same amount on top. For better rigidity, cut a shallow groove or pocket (1/4" or so) in the face of the post that receives the full end-face of the beam. A workbench top that won't support itself between posts (especially the short direction) is perhaps a bit too thin.

I'm assuming you want to stay with all-wood - otherwise bed-bolts are very nice for take-down furniture, without too much hardware showing.

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