I’m calling this project the MatchFit Work Horse. It’s a design collaboration with Mike from Taylor Toolworks. It has the work-holding ability of a workbench with the portability and form factor of a large sawhorse. Before I get started with the build, here are some helpful links:
– Plans for this MatchFit Work Horse and 9 accessories
– Microjig MATCHFIT™ 1.5″ Dovetail Track Hardware (4-Pack)
– Cork Rubber Vise Jaw Lining 5-7/8” wide x 36” long x 1/8” thick
– Microjig DVC-538K2 Matchfit Dovetail Clamps Set of 2
– 10-32 x 12″ Long Threaded Rod
10-32 x 12" Long Threaded Rod
– Microjig MB-050-0514 Matchfit Clamp 1/2″ Diameter 14 Degree Router Bit
– Alternative less expensive 14 degree dovetail router bit
This entire Work Horse can be built from three 2x12x8′ boards. However, my material did have some knots that I didn’t want to include so I used a section of 2×8 that I had on hand for the lower shelf. First up is crosscutting at the miter saw station.
Then skip planing at the planer. You don’t necessarily need to joint these faces.
A quick glue-up is necessary for a few components. The top and each leg will be cut from a two-piece lamination.
After plenty of time for the glue to cure one narrow face of each glue-up is jointed.
The top is cut to the final width at the table saw.
And the leg blanks are ripped as well.
The final milling was done at the miter saw station to get the top and all four legs to their final length.
At this point, we have the main components of the Work Horse.
To cut the dados in the top panel I chose to keep the regular table saw blade installed and nibble away the material with a bunch of cuts. Man, oh man, did I screw up here. I made the starting cut on one end in the wrong location and made the dados on the other side too big. Just a big screw-up all the way around.
The solution was to completely remake the top and cut it the correct way.
Now work can begin on the legs. First, the notch is drawn onto the top of one of the legs.
Next, an angled cut is made on a scrap rectangle piece of MDF. This is going to give me an angled reference face I can use for all of the angled cuts. It’s important to make sure the rectangle piece of MDF is square on all four corners before making the angled cut.
The angled block needs a stop on one end to locate the top of the legs. A scrap piece of plywood and some CA glue takes care of that need.
With the angled jig between the fence and the workpiece the same angled cut can be made on all four legs.
Then the jig can be rotated 90 degrees and used once again to make the second cut.
It’s time to test fit the legs. I used the offcut pieces from the bandsaw cuts as cauls to help clamp the legs in place.
The easiest way to size the leg stretchers is to place the material next to the legs and trace the leg locations with a pencil. The short stretchers are easy as you can reference off of the bottom of the top panel. The longer stretchers require a few clamps and some measuring to make sure they are at the same elevation and parallel with the top.
All the stretchers can easily be cut to length following the pencil lines.
For a bit more strength and stability I cut a lap joint on the back of all of the stretchers. This was done at the router table with a 1/2” diameter bit taking many passes.
To keep the stretchers at the appropriate angle at the router table I used the other half of the MDF rectangle that I cut earlier. This allows me to use it as a push block behind the material. Simply flip the MDF over to change the direction of the angle for the other side of the stretcher.
The result is a quick and easy lap joint.
With the stretcher clamped in place, two screws are added at each joint.
Once all of the stretchers are mounted the leg assembly is backed out slightly, each stretcher removed one at a time and then reinstalled with glue. It’s important to do this step with the leg assemblies slightly removed so you don’t risk gluing the legs in place with glue squeeze-out.
Now the shelf can be made. As I mentioned earlier, I used a piece of 2×8 for the shelf because the 2×12 material I started with had too many knots for my liking.
The shelf is centered on the lower stretchers and the inside face of the stretchers is transferred with a pencil line.
On one side a stop block is added to the inside of the pencil line with glue and screws. Making sure it is square, of course.
On the other side, a linear clamp is added. The adjustment in this clamp will be used over time to further push the legs out at the bottom as the lumber shrinks and the joints on top lose their precision. With this setup, you will keep a tight structure over time.
Then the clamp is adjusted and the shelf installed.
As is, I don’t think the extra weight is needed for most all power tool tasks. However, with heavy hand planing I do think extra weight would be helpful. I put a 100-pound sand bag on the shelf and leaned my body weight into the Work Horse and it barely moved. The lack of mass is the only downside I see to this project. But one can easily overcome that by adding auxiliary weight.
With everything fitting as it should, the tops of the legs can be flush trimmed.
Next up is the front build-up piece. The front of the Work Horse is to be slightly thicker than the back. This just gives extra clamping options on the front face. However, this also allows an opportunity to make a sliding deadman as an accessory. And for that, a dado is needed on the bottom face of this piece.
A matching dado is cut into the top of the shelf.
With the legs removed, the build-up piece is glued and clamped in place. Again, it’s important to remove the legs for this step to prevent any glue squeeze-out from accidentally gluing the legs in place.
All of the MatchFit dovetail slots can be routed next. I used a marker to visually locate the center of each dovetail slot before cutting anything.
From the advice of a few friends, I set the router bit 1/32nd of an inch deeper than the recommended 3/8” depth.
And with the help of a wide blade square and a few clamps all of the dovetail slots are cut. I made sure to take my time and let the router bit do the work. The last thing I want at this stage is a wandering dovetail slot that can’t be used with a clamp.
I suppose this step could have been done a long time ago. But it wasn’t until now that I cut the bottom of the legs to sit flat on the floor.
Finally, a bit of sanding can take place. I just used 120 grit only. Mainly to remove any pencil lines.
And here it is complete….or so I thought.
Ooops! The clamps won’t fit in the front horizontal dovetail slot. This is due to me setting the router bit a little bit on the deep side as well as the legs being slightly thicker than they should have been.
The quickest and easiest solution is to add a small dado to the front face of the legs at the entrance of the horizontal dovetail slot.
The fix worked and the clamps slide in as they should.
And here it actually is complete. You can see that there are plenty of dovetail slots on all faces of the top for many clamping options. There are even two slots on the bottom of the top on either end for extra clamp storage.
This article and video only cover the Work Horse itself. I have several accessories to go along with it that I’ll cover in another video. If you’re interested in a set of plans for this build I have them available here. They include both the Work Horse as well as nine accessories.