Workbench Build #2: More design tweaking, and some cherry sawdust

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Blog entry by Mark Kornell posted 03-28-2014 04:13 AM 2849 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: First sniff of glue Part 2 of Workbench Build series Part 3: Half a top »

After getting my legs glued up, I decided to look at my plan to see how it would fit the likely final leg dimensions. And realized that the 6×6 legs in the SketchUp model would likely end up at 5 1/2” x 5 1/2”. So I spent a couple hours making tweaks. Adjusting the leg dimensions was easy. I also simplified a bunch of the joinery. Used LayOut to make dimensioned drawings for leg joinery.

After all, I have 4 legs glued up and waiting for action.

Was about to start cutting wood for stretchers and I realized that before I could do the leg/stretcher joinery I would need to know the exact dimensions of the top.

When building furniture, I build to a plan. The table is a certain size, the mortises are in certain locations, the legs are so long. Everything is decided beforehand, and you can safely make any individual piece independent of the others and it will fit. Pretty much, anyway. Some joinery does need to fitted by hand, but those fittings generally mean using a chisel or plane to take a 1/100th off here or there.

With a Roubo workbench, the joinery must be made to fit the top. One face of each leg needs to be coplanar with a edge of the top, and just about everything else is fitted from that. And while I have a specific dimension in mind for the width of the top, the reality when gluing up large slabs is that you may not exactly hit that dimension. It isn’t that critical if the top is 25 3/4” or 26 1/4” wide, or if the length is +/- 3”. You can force the issue, but that might mean wasting a whole board just to get that extra 1/2” in width.

So I started on the top this afternoon. First task – retrieve the boards from up there:

using only one hand.

First board down:

The top will be about 8’ long, 26” wide and 4” thick. Did I say 7’ long in the first blog entry? I did! That’s another one of those things I tweaked last night.

I’m hoping for 1 3/4” from each piece, so I need 15 lengths. That’s 8 boards at 9” widths. Pulled them down, cut them to length and ripped them to about 4 1/2”.

Slight oopsie. 2 of the boards I pulled down were jatoba instead of cherry. I thought they were kinda heavy. I’ll have to put them back up and pull down 2 cherry boards. Munyana.

Here’s the 11 pieces I ended up with:

Skinny bench, anyone?

If that was stable enough, I could see getting work done. There wouldn’t be any clutter building up on top, at least.

Let’s try four legs:

Time to call it a day.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

5 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile


9740 posts in 2475 days

#1 posted 03-28-2014 12:56 PM

Mark, what about keeping the Jatoba as a couple of contrasting boards for the top? Kind of like your racing stripes on those planes. I used two pieces of cherry to get to my desired top width.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View JayT's profile


5674 posts in 2235 days

#2 posted 03-28-2014 01:00 PM

Mark, your storytelling is almost as good as your woodworking. When I read it, my first thought was the same as Kevin’s—use the jatoba as contrast. Maybe the dog strip?

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8517 posts in 2007 days

#3 posted 03-29-2014 01:37 AM

You crack me up. +1 on the base is made to fit the top. I literally scribed the stretchers with the legs installed.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1169 posts in 2555 days

#4 posted 03-29-2014 04:32 AM

Considering using the jatoba. Much easier than putting it back up top :-)

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3176 days

#5 posted 04-07-2014 02:38 AM

Thats going to be a great bench man.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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