Plans—they’re useful I’m sure, but I hardly ever use them. Sometimes I’ll sketch a few things down on graph paper, or other times I’ll actually use plans from a book, yet most of the time I tend to wing it. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I had Christopher Schwarz’s blue book which actually had plans for a Roubo bench. I think if I had purchased SYP and tons of it for a bench then I would have followed Chris’s plans pretty closely. Yet I was making a slightly different bench and decided to look at Chris’s book more for ideas and general measurements than for detailed plans.
That said, I decided the width and length of the top based on my needs, shop space, and the best use of material I had. I knew I wanted it to be around 26” wide (it ended up being 26 1/8”). I chose 26” because I like a slightly wider bench for cross-grain stability, but not too wide that I couldn’t easily reach across it (my former outfeed table/workbench was 30”). The length was a trickier issue because I wanted a large bench but my one-car garage said No. I decided that 60” was good, but after adding the end caps it turned out to be 63 1/8” and another 2” for the tail vise. I’m not complaining.
The spacing of the legs was done solely by what looked good. I drew some pencil lines then rounded the lengths to integers to make measuring go easier. Once I cut out the mortises on the bench the spacing was set in stone. Or wood for that matter.
Not all the legs were the same size. I would have liked to have made four 5” wide legs but I didn’t have enough material and I wasn’t about to purchase more. So I made three legs 3 1/2” wide which is plenty for this bench because they’re made of beech. The fourth leg is actually 6” wide and sits behind the leg vise. I made this leg thicker to give better clamping support for the leg vise.
I dry fitted the legs in place and then made measurements for the stretchers. Also, my design called for through tenons in the stretchers, a design that I particularly like and so I had to make the stretchers that go lengthwise on a different height than those that went from the front to back. See photo.
One significant difference between the Schwarz Roubo and mine was how the sliding deadman was attached. Since my stretchers were not flush with the legs and the face of the bench, I had to attach the deadman by making a wooden bracket on the back, not on the bottom of the deadman. This turned out fine.
I also didn’t go with a crochet because I’m still waiting on Smitty to convince me that it’s useful in cooperation with a leg vise. My leg vise design follows closely to Schwarz’s dimensions. The tail vise is another matter. Schwarz retrofitted a wagon vise on his 2005 Roubo, but I just used a Lee Valley front vise as a tail vise and I think it’s a great option because it adds a little more versatility than a wagon vise. I wouldn’t have minded a Veritas twin screw vise, but that wasn’t in the budget.
I apologize if this was just rambling. In the next post I’ll get into some construction details.
-- "hold fast to that which is good"