Building My Roubo Bench #7: Making the Stretchers

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Blog entry by Andy Panko posted 02-12-2012 10:18 PM 11896 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Starting the Legs Part 7 of Building My Roubo Bench series Part 8: Attaching the Stretchers to the Legs »

I wanted to make the bench’s stretchers as proportionately beefy as the top and legs. Since my legs are 5” square, I figured it would work well, and look good, to make the stretchers about 3 1/2” high, and about 2 1/2” thick. So I had to AGAIN joint, plane, glue, clamp and wait some more. I’ve been getting kind of bored of doing glue-ups, so I’m glad this was the last laminating I’ll have to do on this project. I want to integrate 3/4” thick tongue and groove boards on the stretches to turn them into a shelf below the bench. So in the process of laminating the stretchers together, I made a 3/4” deep rabbet along the length of each. I also decided that I want to incorporate a removable sliding deadman along the front of the bench. I planned it like the Roubo in Schwarz’s book – the bottom of the sliding deadman will have a concave mitered slot that will sit on top of, and ride along, a corresponding convex mitered edge along the top of the front stretcher. Before I laminated together the two boards to make the front stretcher, I cut the deadman track on my table saw.

I then did the rough glue-ups of each stretcher.

Since the deadman is going to slide on a simple wood-on-wood track system, I figured now would be a good time to make sure the deadman guide on top of the front stretcher is as true and smooth as possible. As I mentioned in the last blog entry, I’ve been looking for good used Lie-Nielsen planes on eBay and Craigslist over the last couple of weeks. I was lucky enough to find on Craigslist an unused #4 smoother, in bronze, from a guy a half hour away from me. I picked it up yesterday morning, and used it last night to smooth the deadman track on the top of the stretcher. It’s sort of funny – in order to plane the this piece, I really could have used a bench with dog holes to hold the material. However, I don’t have a bench, which is why I’m doing this project in the first place… Using a few clamps as a makeshift planing stop, and my table saw outfeed table as a bench top, I was able to get the job done. I did a few passes with my new plane, and the track/top of the stretcher was as smooth as glass.

I then cut each stretcher to length on the miter saw. The next step was to cut the tenons on the ends of each stretcher. I set up my dado stack, adjusted the depth of cut and rip fence accordingly, and started cutting the cheeks and shoulders. Dadoed one side, flipped it and dadoed the other side, and then flipped it again and dadoed the tops. I had to change the depth of the dado blades at each flip since I wanted/needed different depths on each side of the stretchers.

All said and done, I ended up with nice chunky tenons.

After making all the cuts on each piece, the four stretchers were done.

At this point, I definitely have the end of the project within my sight. Not that I’m wishing it was over – I’m enjoying this whole process a lot – but it is always exciting to be nearing completion of a project. The next step will be to mortis the legs to receive the stretchers, and then drawbore all the joints together. That’ll be the next blog posting. Hopefully I’ll be able to get all that done over the course of this coming week. I hope everyone is enjoying all this so far. It has been almost therapeutic to blog about my progress during this whole thing.

- Andy

-- Andy Panko, Edison NJ,

6 comments so far

View stefang's profile


15940 posts in 3476 days

#1 posted 02-12-2012 11:32 PM

Sure looks like well done progress.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View wcndave's profile


6 posts in 3030 days

#2 posted 02-16-2012 01:16 PM

Hey, looks great, can’t wait to see the next installment!

couple of quick questions.

How do you prevent play / friction in your wagon vice? I would have thought that a flanged nut at each end of the end block would have been best in terms of keeping the thread off the wood inside, and to keep it straight…

Also, when I have done box / dovetail joints inevitably the end grain moves differently than the long grain, so you can feel “bumps” after a couple of years, do you think that will affect your “flatness”?

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6864 posts in 4121 days

#3 posted 02-16-2012 01:44 PM

Hi Andy;

I’ve enjoyed reading your blog on this bench.

You’re doing a great job.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Andy Panko's profile

Andy Panko

88 posts in 2464 days

#4 posted 02-19-2012 11:55 PM


There is virtually no play in the wagon vise. I sized the wagon block so that it was snug inside the opening. And I made sure the track system that the wagon block rides on has minimal play too. The end result is that there basically isn’t any play between the block and the top. Therefore, that translates to there being virtually no play between the screw and the one flanged nut. The Lie-Nielsen screw and nut are machined really well and don’t have much play to start with. But since the wagon block effectively takes out any play in the whole system, there really isn’t any play between the screw and the flanged nut, so the screw doesn’t bump around inside the wood.

Yes, I’m assuming that over time, the square and flatness of the whole bench will shift around. The top can always be re-flattened, which I plan on having to do at some point. But I’m not concerned about legs and stretchers moving too much out of square and/or 90 degrees. Even if things do move a little, I don’t think it will be severe to the point that it will affect the functionality of the larger structure.

-- Andy Panko, Edison NJ,

View Dave T's profile

Dave T

196 posts in 3762 days

#5 posted 02-20-2012 01:46 AM

Just finished catching up on this series. Looks like a good beefy bench to do hand work on. I think this will be the final kick I need to get the material for mine. Thanks for the excellent blog! Looking forward to your next progress update :)

View wcndave's profile


6 posts in 3030 days

#6 posted 02-24-2012 10:54 AM

You’ve done a pretty thorough job on the vice then, I was just wondering if for us who are less perfect having two nuts with the thread passing through both would eliminate play “without any effort”. I guess there’s one obvious way for me to find out ;-)

With regards to the top, I don’t think the legs / stretchers will do anything you need to worry about for a while, and if the top is well seasoned, and given it’s laminated, should not need much attention once it’s tuned.

I was really wondering whether you’d looked in to what the tenons from the legs will do, as on other tenon joinery I’ve done, they’ve resulted in little bumps, so you’d have 4 uneven places on the top. Having to deal with this well before the top itself needs re-tuning could be a pain. However I’ve seen others do it too, so can’t be that much of a problem!

looking forward to the next one.


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