Roubo Bench, a la Stumpy Nubs

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Project by KerwinLumpkins posted 09-10-2015 04:35 PM 4887 views 10 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m just getting a start in woodworking, at least seriously. I knew I needed a good bench, with good heft and solid work holding. Like many others, the Roubo bench captured my attention and admiration. I considered traveling to Connecticut and building one as part of a class with Chris Schwartz and then figuring out how to ship to Denver, but that was in late summer so I decided to get cracking on my own. I knew I had a lot to learn, and many mistakes to make, so I decided to make them on a cheaper and simpler design. Enter Stumpy Nubs and his Old Timey Workshop Video’s design for a Roubo Bench using 2×6 lumber. I bought some better grade fir from Lowe’s, let it dry for about 5 weeks while I was out of town on business and then tucked in starting 2nd week of June.

The Roubo bench project was a great excuse to buy a jointer/planer combo tool (Jet’s JJP-12HH) which I love. Fantastic machine. My first experience with a jointer and I’ll never look back.

Stumpy’s take on Roubo’s bench uses a laminate approach for the bench top and takes advantage of laminated approach for the legs as well to create the distinctive double tenon. Stumpy recommends buying a cheap Harbor Freight plane and modifying it into a scrub plane to speed up surfacing the top. I could have done that, but instead saw an opportunity to buy a nice Lie-Nielsen scrub plane and use that. I love that thing. Takes off wood fast and makes a neat looking finish that I’ll remember for later. But I finished off the top with a #6 plane, about 4 hours of work with the planes. About 90 hours for the project overall.

I went with a leg vise, using a wooden screw from Lake Erie Toolworks, and a 9 inch quick release end vise from Rockler. Plenty of 3/4” round bench dog holes and a sprinkling of square dog holes. I made the square bench dogs with some cherry to get a contrasting look. I made a quick set of drawers out of some scrap plywood to store my planes, saws, layout tools, and chisels. I made some fixtures inside the drawers to organize all of that stuff so it wouldn’t be a big jumble.

I was right. I had a lot to learn. And I made a bunch of mistakes, but she came out pretty good. Some gaps on the double tenons regrettably. I know that I’ll make another workbench in the years to come, but this one was a great start. Next project is a Moxon vise so I can get cracking on dovetails.

12 comments so far

View oltexasboy1's profile


240 posts in 1121 days

#1 posted 09-10-2015 04:57 PM

Good work man. It is a learning process to build your own bench and the sense of accomplishment after you’re done is a great feeling. This will serve you well for a lot of years and you will discover that you are able to do tasks that you weren’t able to do before because of the heft and usefulness of this style of bench. You learn more from making mistakes than you do from getting it right or close to right all the time. Give it a coat or two of BLO and get to work. Good luck

-- "The pursuit of perfection often yields excellence"

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

5947 posts in 1746 days

#2 posted 09-10-2015 06:29 PM

Nice execution on the Stumpy Roubo…

How did you like the plans?

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View KerwinLumpkins's profile


12 posts in 438 days

#3 posted 09-10-2015 06:40 PM

Stumpy’s written plans were pretty good. Worth the $10 for organization and time saving. I did have some issues and I emailed him with those. He may have updated the plans. I’d have to pay for the update to know. :) I’ve bought other plans on his site and they are very solid. Great illustrations and straight-to-the-point written direction.

Just in case those written plans didn’t get updated, my issues were:

1) The 12 inch Rockler end vise that he recommends didn’t fit on the bench, at least that I could figure. The center to center distance of the vise’s support bars was such that those bars ended up right in the way of the straight tenon portion of the legs. You would have to have 17 boards in the top lamination for that vise to work versus 16. I exchanged for the smaller vise (Rockler 27838) so easy to recover, but there was no need to cut off as much wood as I did.

2) The square bench dog hole position as shown in instructions would put a square block right where he advises to drill for threaded rod (Stumpy said 4 inches from the end using 3 rods, but the one he built used 4 rods. I think that’s why that point was missed.

View BurlyBob's profile


3450 posts in 1683 days

#4 posted 09-10-2015 10:20 PM

That’s a darn good looking bench. The drawers are a smart addition t the bench. One can never have enough storage.

View Mean_Dean's profile


4928 posts in 2564 days

#5 posted 09-10-2015 11:57 PM

Great looking Roubo workbench! I’m sure you’ll get a lot of good use out of it!

-- Dean

View smitty22's profile


694 posts in 2364 days

#6 posted 09-11-2015 01:17 AM

Great build, I’m green with envy! (Looks like you need to tighten the oil drain plug, leaking just a bit! :))

-- Smitty

View fatman51's profile


335 posts in 1254 days

#7 posted 09-11-2015 05:23 AM

Thats a nice job. The construction of work benches, sawhorses, and tool boxes is how many carpenters first learn the trade, and these are among the first projects many of us ever completed on our own. It is smart to start with a plan, but I like your innovations. Storage is a must. I do not see any serious mistakes and if there is something that will affect the function, you can address it. Keep that bench, use it, and treasure it. It taught you a lot.

-- The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. Benjamin Franklin

View MassMatt's profile


10 posts in 582 days

#8 posted 09-11-2015 10:06 AM

Great looking bench

View PaulHWood's profile


328 posts in 1670 days

#9 posted 09-11-2015 11:51 AM

Nice work

How do you find the drawer slides work with weight of planes. I recently used that type, but have very light items in those drawers.

-- -Paul, South Carolina Structural Engineer by trade, Crappy Woodworker by choice

View TObenhuber's profile


77 posts in 1010 days

#10 posted 09-11-2015 02:10 PM

Great work dude, that bench looks awesome. I am almost to where I have out grown my current bench and might want to upgrade to one that has a few more features like vises. Need to sell a couple more projects then we will see where I stand on that idea. Keep it up.

View StumpyNubs's profile


6830 posts in 2218 days

#11 posted 09-12-2015 01:34 PM

Wow- great work!

The plans do need to be updated. All of our newer plans have photos and step by step instructions of the whole build, while these are measured drawings and computer generated illustrations showing the steps. But I would have to re-build the bench from scratch to do it. If I do, I’ll gladly send you the updated ones for free.

You really don’t need the plans to build the bench. I made two long videos all about it: “Episode 4 and Episode 5 of The Old Timey Workshop.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View KerwinLumpkins's profile


12 posts in 438 days

#12 posted 09-12-2015 03:33 PM

Paul, that friction drawer slide method works okay if you put some wax on the slide and a bit on the bottom surface. The wax gives enough glide to make the heavy plane drawer slide well, but enough friction so that it doesn’t come out on me when I don’t want it to. By the way, I made those drawers accessible from both sides, as Stumpy suggested in his video. I like that idea since I’m constantly shifting sides during work.

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