LumberJocks

YAR! - Yet Another Roubo #1: Getting material, making the legs and stretchers

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Douglas posted 01-10-2013 04:52 AM 2816 reads 10 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of YAR! - Yet Another Roubo series Part 2: Assembling the base, milling top stock »

I know there are a lot of Roubo workbench builds posted in the last few years, but I have no apologies for adding another to the pile. Why did I start this? Mainly because my current bench is totally inadequate. It is a “weekend workbench” I’ve used for a couple of years now, built before I really understood what I wanted or needed. It is made with 4×4 and 2×4 pressure treated legs and stretchers, a laminated MDF top, 2’ x 5’ in size. It has a face vise that is not flush to the top edge, and the top has an overhang that makes it not flush with the legs. It is too light, and wiggles and scoots when I apply force to something (most anything) I’m working on. I find myself fighting it to get it to hold work, when I’d rather just be fighting my project!

I’ve also been getting into hand tools quite a bit, and need the sort of workholding that a good, heavy bench will provide. I also love learning about the history and origins of tools, and techniques, (I like nerding out about that stuff). this is also just another project to do to improve on some basic skills. Like most woodworkers here, I use power and hand tools as needed or as appropriate. And so the jointer, planer, and table saw were used to prep the stock, drill press & forstner bits to clear the mortises. Chisels and hand planes were used to clean up mortises, smooth the mill marks, etc.

On to the build!

I pretty much followed the “bible” or Mr Schwarz’s seminal workbenches book, with one twist: I’m building it lefty, and it will be 2’ x 7’ (not 8’).

My first challenge was finding material. I had decided to use Douglas Fir or southern yellow pine, as it fit the budget, i thought hardwoods to be overkill, and Schwarz made a good argument in the book for why using construction dimension lumber is a fine option for a bench. (Along the way, I learned waaaay too much about construction grade lumber). I live in Chicago, and southern yellow pine is nowhere to be found. Checking my local big box stores, I was faced with the fact that their construction dimensional lumber can be one of any number of species, most of which are too soft for what I wanted. Most of the construction lumber is generically listed as “whitewood” on the box box stores signs (as in “2×10 whitewood…”), which is stamped either “Hem-Fir” (meaning it is either hemlock OR some type of ‘fir’), “SPF” (meaning either spruce, pine, or fir), or occasionally, rarely, “Douglas Fir”. The last is the stuff I wanted, as it is pretty much the same properties of SYP. But the only way to tell if any given store has it is to go there and rummage around in their stacks looking for it. You cant tell what it is through their webpages, and good luck finding anyone at the store who knows anything about it other than they have some “whitewood”.

There are about 4 Home Depots, 3 Menards, and one Lowes in a comfortable radius of my house, and in the weeks led up to getting the stock, each time a happened to be in one of them, I would take a gander and their stacks of 2×10s and 2×12s. It was always different, always changing, and rarely would the pieces be Douglas fir. Also, all the stuff was grade 2, and not the clearer grade 1 or “select”. So I was pretty depressed at having to make do with crap, or having to chase all over the area looking for the magic boards. I even contacted a big local lumber company that supplies contractors directly, and they said they had no idea where to get SYP or grade 1 Douglas Fir.

Finally, when the day came to get the material, I prepared for a long day of snagging a hopefully clear board or two from one big box, then heading off to the next, sifting through stacks of crap, rise & repeat. My wonderful wife was my helper, and quite the trooper to commit to helping out on what was likely going to be a long, tiring day.

But I was VERY lucky that day. My first stop was the closest Home Depot, and they’d just delivered and placed out fresh stacks of 2×12 Douglas Fir. as in, the WHOLE STACK was douglas fir. was able to collect some pretty nice boards with a minimum of sifting, and was out of there in 1/2 hour. What a relief.

Even better, I checked them for moisture when I got them into the shop, and the wettest one was 13%, with the average around 11%. Lucky, lucky, lucky. I stacked & stickered everything, and started milling the pieces for the legs and stretchers. After those sat overnight, I finished milling them, did the lamenations, and drilled and chiseled the mortises. I had some awesomely dry and straight white oak around, and wanted to make my own pegs. But my poor man’s doweling plate (a 3/8” hole drilled through 1/4” steel plate) wasn’t really cutting it, so I went with store bought 3/8” red oak dowels.

At this point, I was ready to assemble the base. That’s for next time!

-- Douglas in Chicago - http://dcwwoodworks.com



9 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10372 posts in 1369 days


#1 posted 01-10-2013 05:04 AM

Wow, looking good! I’ll follow along, because who doesn’t love a good bench? Love the lived in look of your shop, too.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View doordude's profile

doordude

1085 posts in 1733 days


#2 posted 01-10-2013 06:27 AM

looks like a great start to a nice bench

View live4ever's profile

live4ever

983 posts in 1761 days


#3 posted 01-10-2013 06:48 AM

Awesome! I’m going to be following suit with a DF bench as well. You found some really great-looking construction lumber. The bench gods were smiling down upon thee!

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View murch's profile

murch

1186 posts in 1375 days


#4 posted 01-10-2013 08:35 AM

Great detail Douglas. I’ll be keeping an eye on this as well because I’m in much the same position as you.
I welded up a 1” box-metal frame and bolted a sheet of ply on top just to have some where to stand my lathe.
Now, like you, I want to up-grade.

Best of luck.

-- A family man has photos in his wallet where his money used to be.

View grfrazee's profile

grfrazee

346 posts in 890 days


#5 posted 01-10-2013 05:39 PM

I ran into the same problem as you. I decided to go with SYP for my bench, and living in the Chicagoland area isn’t very conducive to getting SYP. I ended up special ordering it from Menards. Douglas Fir would have been my second choice.

I look forward to seeing your progress. I too read and obtained inspiration from the Schwarz book.

-- -=Pride is not a sin=-

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

314 posts in 1001 days


#6 posted 01-10-2013 05:52 PM

Interesting read, and I learned something new about the stamps on construction lumber at the big box stores. Looking forward to following this blog.

-- Rex

View airfieldman's profile

airfieldman

182 posts in 2561 days


#7 posted 01-10-2013 06:29 PM

Quote: “my current bench is totally inadequate. It is a “weekend workbench” I’ve used for a couple of years now, built before I really understood what I wanted or needed. It is made with 4×4 and 2×4 pressure treated legs and stretchers, a laminated MDF top, 2’ x 5’ in size. It has a face vise that is not flush to the top edge, and the top has an overhang that makes it not flush with the legs. It is too light, and wiggles and scoots when I apply force to something (most anything) I’m working on. I find myself fighting it to get it to hold work, when I’d rather just be fighting my project!”

If I had started my workbench already, my opening paragraph for the journey would be identical to that, except my current is made with 1×4’s and 2×4’s. I can almost lift it with one hand! Thanks for sharing this journey of yours…I’ll be watching with eagerness…

-- Measure with a micrometer, mark with a crayon, cut it with a chainsaw.

View Dave's profile

Dave

11205 posts in 1591 days


#8 posted 01-23-2013 01:21 AM

Wonderful What I like most is your choice of material. Well done.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View staryder's profile

staryder

154 posts in 790 days


#9 posted 02-09-2013 02:21 PM

Great build and a wonderful job documenting it…. Thanks for sharing….

-- Rick.... Fort Worth, Texas

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase