|Project by RogerBean||posted 05-30-2015 07:07 PM||8199 views||23 times favorited||33 comments|
Finally finished up my Roubo bench. Started over the winter and was delayed by shoulder surgery, so I’m still taking it a bit easy.
The bench itself is a pretty standard split-top Roubo based on the fine plans from the folks at BenchCrafted. I seldom follow plans, so I thought about all the ways I could customize the bench, and ended up with nothing that was better than their plans. And I couldn’t be happier with the result.
The bench itself is made of American beech, and is 87” long and 24” wide and 35” high. It seems that beech can be hard to come by, but I was lucky to find 200 bd/ft of 8/4 select beech at L.L. Johnson in Battle Creek, MI. The wood that arrived was lovely.
For those who have not worked with beech, there’s a good reason it is a traditional material for benches… it’s really, really, hard. Super sharp tools and a really big mallet are more than handy. But the beech was worth the extra effort. The thing is a beast and I estimate it weighs in at well over 400 lb.
I used all BenchCrafted hardware on this bench. Not only the vises, but also the takedown barrel nuts, and the BenchCrafted plan set. Hence, when it needs to be moved, it can be disassembled into managable pieces. The tail and leg vise hardware are a joy to behold. If you are contemplating building a serious bench, I highly recommend the BenchCrafted hardware. I don’t believe there is any finer.
I did adjust a little to accommodate the Veritas steel bench dogs rather than wood. Just a preference. Also, using the round brass Veritas bench dogs in the deadman which can also be used in the top round holes. My four Veritas WonderDogs also fit the same 3/4” holes (yet to be drilled). But the primary use of the round holes will be for the Gramercy holdfasts.
I haven’t yet installed the “gap-stop” which is an ingenious little addition that fits in the gap between the twin tops. Sitting flush, it provides a handy place to store chisels and saws, and inverted, it offers a stop to hold pieces for sawing or clamping. Really handy. I’’m waiting for the wood to settle, and a new Lenox carbide bandsaw blade, then I’ll finish the gap stop.
It has no finish, at least at this time. Those whose advice I respect say to add no finish at all. …or at the most just a coat of linseed oil. So, for the time being I’m going with the unfinished wood. Perhaps I’ll give it the coat of Linseed sometime in the future. We’ll see. It’s already showing the sighs of a couple months use.
Some members may remember me primarily as a box maker, and that’s been pretty much true for the past few years. However, I’ve always been interested in period furniture as well, and as I find myself drifting back to making some more period furniture, I found that my shop had become great for box making, but not so well suited to furniture making. Hence, the bench project.
By no means am I giving up box making, or the use of my machines. What I am doing is adding more hand tool capability. There are times when hand tools are just faster and better than machines. If I need to cut one or two mortises, or a couple sliding dovetails, the set up time and all the trial cuts just takes a long time. So, hand tools definitely have their place in my shop. As do the machines.
Thanks for looking in…
-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)