Workbench #9: Roubo needs some legs

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Blog entry by HungryTermite posted 03-06-2011 03:38 AM 3653 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: New leg vise hardware and a design revision Part 9 of Workbench series Part 10: Custom brass dowel nuts for my bench bolts »

Today was a fun day! 1st up today was to put the holdfast holes in the legs. This started on the back side of the legs buy counterboring a 1-3/8 hole using a forstner bit. The depth of the counterbore is 1-1/2 inches and this leaves 3-1/2 inches of leg left for the holdfast to grab on to. The Grammercy holdfasts I have supposedly do not work well in pieces thicker than 4 inches.

One of the holes lined up with a large knot that was filled with epoxy. You can see here just how far down that slow set epoxy got before it cured. I was a bit surprised how deep the checks in the knot were and I wonder if I would have gotten such a clean hole if I hadn’t filled it with epoxy first.

After drilling the counterbore on all the legs that get them (the leg with the leg vise in it doesn’t get any holes) I flipped them over and used a 3/4” forstner to try to drill a through hole. This is where I discovered that my bits are too short for such thick pieces! I had already purchased a 3/4” auger bit to use in my cordless drill to drill the dog holes in the top so I used that to finish up the rest of the hole that the forstner bit couldn’t get to.

The through holes don’t really line up perfectly with the counterbores. I used the same fence setup on the drill press, however, I didn’t reference the same side of the legs and since the holes were slightly off center they ended up misaligned. I don’t think it really matters.

To make sure that I could move on to the next step I took out one of the Grammercy holdfasts and used it to hold down some walnut I happened to have laying around. It held really well. It marred the surface of the walnut a little actually so I think I am going to have to get some leather to bond to the faces of the holdfasts. I didn’t do anything to the holdfasts like sand the shanks like I’ve seen recommended and they hold great. My only worry is that the Douglas Fir is so soft that the holes are going to increase in size over time as I use them and eventually the holdfasts won’t hold anymore. We’ll see. This was a good test since the top will have the same size and type of holes for the dog holes. Now I know that the holdfasts will work anywhere on the top.

With that finished I moved on to working on the mortises for the stretchers. The mortises for the long stretchers are 1-1/4 inches wide, 2 inches deep, and 4 inches long. The mortises for the short stretchers are the same except they are 2-1/2 inches deep. Since there are bolts holding the long stretchers in I didn’t think having a long tenon would really do much but on the short stretchers I wanted a lot of glue area and room for the drawbore pegs to keep them locked in place.

After overlapping enough holes I was left with a nice looking slot. With some chisel work (maybe tomorrow) this will be a nice looking mortise.

Here are the legs with all their new holes and slots. Things are really moving along now…

And here is a shot of the mess I made today. It sure seems like there should be something to do with all the chips instead of just throwing them out. These are nice size chips that look like I sharpened 1,000 pencils. Too bad I don’t know anyone with any pet hamsters or something like that. I’ve had this new Delta drill press for a few weeks now and so far I love it. I am glad I procrastinated working on this bench long enough to be able to purchase one because I can’t imaging trying to do all this by hand. I probably would have tried the more traditional approach to making mortises which means I probably wouldn’t have joints that will fit as tight and they will now.

After I finish up the mortises the next step will be to cut the joints to the top and attach the leg vise. In order to do this I need to wait for my tenon saw to arrive and I need to figure out how to drill a 2-3/4” hole through a 5 inch thick leg. I am not sure a hole saw will be able to do it and a forstner bit will be too short and expensive for 1 hole. Any suggestions?

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

2 comments so far

View badmac's profile


3 posts in 2750 days

#1 posted 07-11-2011 09:24 PM

Hi Termite:

This is about 127 days late, but I just wanted to say that I learned a couple of very important things from your blog entry. Actually I just signed up to this site today because I need some advice on Roubo legs. You helped me tremendously. Have you completed your workbench and if so do you have any pics?

Thanks for the help.


-- Jim, Coral Gables, FL

View HungryTermite's profile


90 posts in 3289 days

#2 posted 07-12-2011 03:04 AM

Hi badmac,

I am glad I could help. Unfortunately I have not made any further progress on my bench. I bought a house and have not set up the new workshop yet since I have been getting the house finished up a bit. I can’t believe it’s already been 127 days since this post! How embarrassing. I have so much hardware sitting around just waiting. The good thing is that my wood gets another 6 months dryer than it would have been otherwise. Hopefully that will help with the top and hopefully the legs don’t twist all over the place. I hope to get back on track in the next month or two though and finish up because now that I have a house I need to build some furniture to put into it!

Just out of curiosity, what are you trying to figure out on your legs?

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

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