Workbench #4: The Final Design

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Blog entry by HungryTermite posted 02-15-2011 08:10 AM 11685 reads 3 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Tail Vise Mockup Part 4 of Workbench series Part 5: Check Please »

Ok, enough procrastinating! It’s time to get on with the workbench. I have a design that I am happy with and while I haven’t quite finished the CAD model I think I can safely start cutting some wood.

As I stated in previous posts this is a Roubo bench and I used a lot of information from a lot of places. I have purchased all the wood and a good deal of the hardware. The top is going to be made from 10 foot long 4”x6” douglas fir. It should finish out at somewhere around 5 inches thick. The stretchers are also made from 4”x6”. The legs are made from 6”x6” douglas fir and they are finishing out about 5”x5”. Everything was purchased at the home center and I think the total for all the wood was about $175. The legs have been drying in my garage for about 7 months and the wood for the stretchers and top has been going for about 2 months now.

The bench features a leg vise on the front left leg and a wagon vise on the right side. The leg vise shown uses a metal bench screw that I have but I have ordered a large wooden screw from Lake Erie Toolworks that hasn’t arrived yet.

The wagon vise is a refinement of the design I tested in an earlier post. I decided to suck it up and spring for a hand wheel to operate the vise since I feel it will go a lot quicker to be able to turn a hand wheel then if I had to spin a bar. The leg vise screw from Lake Erie is supposed to move pretty fast at only 2 threads per inch so I don’t see a need for a wheel there, plus I like the traditional look of a wooden screw.

I tried to get a decent angle on this view showing the guts of the wagon vise. I don’t think I described it very well in my other post. I think this will work just fine. If there is still too much slop in the movement my fall back plan is to add a spline between the moviing dog block and the bench top. I figure I should be able to use a router with a slot cutter to add the slot for the spline. You can also see the bolts holding on the breadboard end cap which will make the vise installation easier.

The legs will be drawbored in the short direction and I will use bolts in the long direction so I can knock down the bench for transport when I move out of my rental. I am not sure this is really necessary as it seems just as easy to move the bench in 1 piece but why not.

It’s a pretty standard bench from what I have seen. I am a little worried that the fir might be too soft as a bench top. It seems to get scratched and gouged pretty easily but t was so inexpensive I don’t think I care. As awesome as a maple top would be I just can’t see spending the money for 150 board feet of maple just to make a bench top. I am sure I will decide that was a foolish notion in a few years but by then maybe I will be in a position to buy some maple.

I’ve got the jointer and planer fired up and the new drill press will be here Friday… it’s time to let the chips fly.

-- Good Judgement Comes From Experience. Experience Comes From Bad Judgement.

7 comments so far

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3312 days

#1 posted 02-15-2011 09:54 AM

a great test for the apprentice

sooner or later we are all humbled.


-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Maveric777's profile


2692 posts in 2495 days

#2 posted 02-15-2011 03:46 PM

I am definitely going to keep a closer eye on this project (hope to see some blogs on the progress). I too have been wrestling with what to do about my work bench. Keeping up with this should help out immensely in my decision making.

Thanks for posting this up and can’t wait to see how it develops….

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Pawky's profile


278 posts in 2223 days

#3 posted 02-15-2011 07:51 PM

The hook thing (does it have a specific name?) on the left front face of the bench, I’ve seen it on other benches posted here, but it seems that the vise/clamp is too close to it making it so it wouldn’t be as useful. I’m sure I’m wrong as I have no experience with any of it, but would love it if you could explain the reasoning for it’s location/uses. Thank you!

View HungryTermite's profile


90 posts in 2468 days

#4 posted 02-15-2011 08:18 PM

The hook thing is a crochet. My reason for locating it there is because that is where Chris Schwarz located it on the bench in his book. He put it there because that is where he saw it in old texts and drawings. I’ve never used one but in his book he says it works quite weill in this setup. The crochet is just bolted onto the front face of the bench so it’s one of thos things where if I don’t like it I will unbolt it but it intrigues me enough to add it to see if I like it.

In theory I wouldn’t need to tighten the leg vise in order to hold a board on its long edge for planing. I could just rest it on the vise screw and push it forward into the crochet and that should lock it in place (as long as it is supported by the sliding deadman also). I like the sound of that since there is less fussing with the vise. Then the vise would mainly get used for vertical pieces.

-- Good Judgement Comes From Experience. Experience Comes From Bad Judgement.

View dbray45's profile


3147 posts in 2195 days

#5 posted 02-15-2011 08:23 PM

Just an idea, I keep a number of pieces of scrap plywood, hard board, and a painters drop cloth on hand at all times. If I am going to chisel something like dovetails, chiseling the plywood is a lot better than screwing up the benchtop. Hardboard and drop cloth for the glue and paint – you get the idea.

A good top, what ever it is, once you get it the way you want is priceless.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View HungryTermite's profile


90 posts in 2468 days

#6 posted 02-15-2011 08:36 PM

I’m with you dbray45. I have already envisioned a piece of hardboard with some dowels in it that will sit in the dog holes so I can so some work on that if necessary.

The one benefit to just abusing my bench top without care is that I would get to build a new one in a few years :) By then I would probably be able to afford some harder wood and also by then I would really figure out what I like and dislike about this design.

Anything will be better than the plastic costco table I use now!

-- Good Judgement Comes From Experience. Experience Comes From Bad Judgement.

View dbray45's profile


3147 posts in 2195 days

#7 posted 02-15-2011 09:29 PM

It funny that you say that. My first work bench that I made had a 3/4” cheap pine B/C plywood top, now it has two 3/4 maple and birch pieces of plywood with a 1/2” piece of cheap pine plywood in the middle. I just added the second piece of the 3/4 the other day. Put 3 coats of polyurethane and polished it up. Its not as pretty as a solid maple top but its every bit as strong and its a full 2’ thich throughout. If something happens to the top, a replacement 2’x4’ piece of plywood is a whole lot less in cost than maple.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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