My new Roubo #12: Base + top = bench

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Blog entry by JasonD posted 02-20-2011 07:52 AM 3346 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: The base is COMPLETE! (with pics) Part 12 of My new Roubo series Part 13: Knocked several items off the list today »

The day started with me cutting the vise chop into shape. I cut the straight cuts with my rip panel cut (as seen in the first pic below). Then, I cut the curved cuts and glued the chop together. I didn’t have any 8/4 stock, but I did have some 4/4 hard maple and red oak left over from previous projects. So, I hand planed them flat / square and decided to cut the shapes out before the glue up. After letting it sit in the clamps over night, I’m going to clean up the sides of the chop with a block plane, spokeshave, and a rasp.

After the chop was in the clamps, I moved on to the final flattening of the bottom of the bench top. This didn’t take too long (maybe 30 minutes or so) with my vintage Stanley #7. Once it was flat, I squared the front edge to the bottom. Next, I put the base onto the top upside down, got it lined up with the front and square, and finally traced out the placement and size of the leg tenons.

I chopped out about the first 1/2” of each leg mortise. Then, I used my brace and auger bit to drill out the corners of each mortise before going back with my biggest mortise chisel (3/4”) and chopping out the bulk. I used my largest paring chisel (1”) to clean up the walls; using a small combination square to make sure the mortises were the proper depth and that the walls were square. Next, I drilled out the holes for the draw bore pins, put the base in place (had to do this twice because I had to clean up one of the mortises better), and marked the location of the hole centers. I removed the base and drilled the offset holes, put the base and top back together, then finally hammered my draw bore pegs in to join the base and top.

Here’s a pic of the bench before I cut the draw bore pegs flush:

Earlier this week, I was only able to get half an hour or so of shop time each night, but I didn’t want to slow down. So, I spent that time working on some of the bench “accessories” as seen in the picture below: red oak planing stop, red oak parallel guide (before drilling holes, shaping, etc), and SYP vise handle (not joined yet).

I don’t have a lathe, but I wanted to do something different than the octagon with dowels at each end as shown in the book. So, I took a cut off from one of the boards that got glued into the top, cut it to 1” square, then used my block plane to work it into an octagon. From there, I planed off the sharp edges of the octagon and continued this path until I had a “fairly” round handle. I didn’t really want it perfectly round; I like the little facets that are created from hand planing square stock into round stock. I did the same thing with some of the offcuts from the long stretchers to make the end knobs. I attached the first one with glue and a dowel. I have the dowel glued into the second side, but I haven’t glued the second knob on yet. I’m going to do that after I get the chop installed (hopefully tomorrow).

Of course, it wouldn’t be right to hit a major milestone in this bench build without making at least one minor screw up. I got the base and top attached, but forgot to drill / chop out the trench for the sliding board jack to ride in. I thought about drilling out the draw bore pegs, removing the top, and cutting the trench, but I decided against it. Yes, it will be a little more difficult to do this with the base attached, but not impossible. I’m just going to flip the bench over, climb in the middle of the base, and get to work.

My to-do list from here is:
- cut out the sliding board jack trench
- finish shaping the vise chop
- cut the hole for the vise screw and chop the mortise for the parallel guide in the chop
- install the vise screw and parallel guide onto the chop and finally install the vise
- flatten the top
- cut the mortise out for the planing stop and install it
- drill out the dog holes and hold fast holes
- build and install the shelf cleats and boards
- build and install the sliding board jack and the “V”-rail for it to slide on top of
- cut the ends flush / square

I’m hoping that I can get the first half of that list done (at least up to flattening the top).

When it’s all said and done, my new bench will be 24” wide, 34” high, 61” long, and weigh well over 200 lbs (closer to 300 lbs, actually); a major improvement (for a hand tool guy like myself) over my current 75 lb, 24” x 36-1/2” x 48” plywood and 2×4 bench.

6 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3108 days

#1 posted 02-20-2011 08:43 AM

dang it look good :-)


View Raskal's profile


35 posts in 2678 days

#2 posted 02-20-2011 08:50 AM

I just read through your blog tonight… wow…. you’ve encouraged me to build a better bench for myself.


View Brit's profile


7373 posts in 2836 days

#3 posted 02-20-2011 10:52 AM

It’s looking good Jason. Thanks for the blog, I’m really enjoying it.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2833 days

#4 posted 02-21-2011 02:58 AM

The roubo is my absolute favorite and I do believe you have my bench. When will it be ready? jk

great job!;)

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View JasonD's profile


180 posts in 2854 days

#5 posted 02-21-2011 04:42 AM

Thanks, guys. It’s funny that I started this blog as a way to keep myself in check. I figured that if I put the build out in public, then it would help hold me accountable to keep making progress. My life is ridiculously busy between family, work, our gym, and my new woodworking hobby. So, any extra ammo I could have to keep me plugging along was gladly needed.

Anyway, I started this blog for me and it blows my mind that other people are enjoying reading it; much less the handful of people who’ve said they were inspired by it.

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3281 days

#6 posted 03-05-2011 06:00 PM

oh man this bench came out great, I want to build the twenty century workbench from finewoodworking I like how it’s set up.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

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