Building My Roubo Bench #10: Connecting the Stretchers to THE TOP!

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Andy Panko posted 02-25-2012 03:18 PM 9239 reads 1 time favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 9: Finishing the Underside of the Top Part 10 of Building My Roubo Bench series Part 11: THE FINAL PRODUCT!!! »

These posts haven’t been exactly chronological. For example, in the last entry, (about finishing the underside of the top) some of the stuff I did prior to finishing the legs and stretchers, and some of it I did after. But for the sake of giving better flow to this blog, I thought I’d lump stuff together in logical parts. I digress.

My drawbore pin arrived from Lee Valley recently, so I was able to finally connect all these mortis and tenon joints. As I had previously mentioned, I bought the Lee Valley drawbore pins instead of the Lie-Nielsen pins because I thought the Lee Valley pins were a third the price. I pulled a bonehead move and thought I read that the Lee Valley pins were $30 for A PAIR. Whereas the Lie-Nielsen’s are $90 for a pair. After the Lee Valley pin arrived, I realized it was just one pin. After checking their website again and reading it in better detail, sure enough it is only ONE pin for $30…not a pair. But the Lie-Nielsen’s are definitely TWO for $90. So therefore, the Lee Valley’s aren’t as comparatively cheap as I thought they were. But still, I don’t know why you’d need two of the same pins. So I still don’t regret my decision to NOT buy the Lie-Nielsen set of pins. Just thought I’d share this meaningless story with you. Sorry.

For the mortis and tenon joints between the stretchers and legs, I thought one 3/8” drawbore pin/dowel would suffice. I measured the center of the pin 7/8 ” from the shoulder of my tenons. Each tenon is 2 1/4” long, so 7/8” seemed like a decent distance from the shoulder. No hard science here, just a subjective decision. I bought a brad point 3/8” bit, and drilled all the holes through the mortises in my drill press.

After drilling through all the mortises, I then placed each tenon in the joint, and marked the center of the hole with the drill bit.

This picture isn’t great, but it gets the point across – after I marked the center on each tenon, I then marked an offset closer to the shoulder by about 3/32”. According to Schwarz’s online tutorial about drawboring, you generally shouldn’t offset your tenon hole by more than 1/8”. Since this was my first time drawboring, I didn’t want to push any limits. So I played it somewhat conservatively and did 3/32”.

I then drilled each tenon on the drill press.

Next I dry fit each joint, and used the drawbore pin to prep each dowel hole. It took a lot of elbow grease to ream each hole. I ended up with a good blister on each of my palms from having to push and twist so hard (that’s what she said).

I bought 3/8” oak dowels from Home Depot, and cut them all to length. Using a box cutter, I tapered the tip of each to allow me to driven them through the offset drawbore holes.

Before assembling each joint, I applied a liberal amount of glue to the mortis, put the tenon in, and then drove in the drawbore dowel with a deadblow mallet. There was a healthy amount of resistance in driving in the dowels, but not as much as a I thought there would be. I definitely could have gotten away with doing 1/8” offset on the drilled holes. Maybe even a little more. I guess since my tenons are so large and I’m using relatively thick dowels, I could have used a bigger offset. Oh well. The joints all still came out PLENTY strong. I cut the dowels so that there was some extra that I’d have to come back and saw and plane down flush.

Here is the finished assembly of the legs and stretchers.

Now the top was ready to be put on. I should mention that I had previously drilled the drawbore holes through the mortises in the top slab. Since the top slab was too big and heavy to try to maneuver on the drill press, I drilled those with a hand drill. I then marked and drilled the holes in the tenons on the legs. I did those on the drill press. Anyway, with some help from my stronger than I thought wife, we lifted the top onto the leg assembly, and I drove in all of those drawbore dowels. And here it is…

It was awesome to see it all together. There are still some finishing touches that I have to do to get it completely done, but as you can see, the project is basically finished at this point. It’s kind of sad – putting the top and legs together was more anticlimactic than I thought. I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe some balloons falling from the ceiling. Possibly some confetti? Perhaps some loud sirens and disco lights, as if I was the one millionth customer at a supermarket and won a prize for the random accomplishment. No, I had none of that. But still, it was a great feeling to see it all together. I guess it is better than balloons and confetti. After all, those would have just been more things I would have had to clean up off the floor.

So now all that left is:
- Flatten the top
- Make a wooden jaw pad for the front vise
- Drill some more 3/4” dog holes in the top and possibly some in the legs, for holdfasts
- Apply some sort of coating/finish to the whole thing (I need to research this more to see what sort of product would be best). I’m thinking Danish oil at this point, but we’ll see
- Put on tongue and groove decking on the stretchers to turn that into a shelf
- Make some bench accessories: bench dogs, sliding deadman, batten, maybe some other stuff
- I’m sure I’m forgetting something else that I’ll realize later

I guess that’s it. The next post will presumably be my last. I’m getting a little teary-eyed that this whole thing is drawing to a close. I need to go find someone to hug. As always, thanks for reading!

- Andy

-- Andy Panko, Edison NJ,

1 comment so far

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2654 days

#1 posted 02-25-2012 04:16 PM

A pencil sharpener works well to taper the pins as well.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics