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Split-Top Roubo Workbench

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Project by Richard H posted 05-05-2016 02:50 PM 3697 views 16 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I completed this Benchcrafted/WoodWhisper version of the Roubo workbench a while back and have been working on it enough to get a better feel for it so thought it might be a good time for a project. This is the forth bench I have built and owned starting with the one Norm built in season 1 of New Yankee Workshop up to the one before this which was a “temporary” bench made of 4X6’s and mortised legs in our old house. This is by far the largest, heaviest and more enjoyable of the lot I have used. There is no racking at all in the bench and it seems like it’s planted in the ground when you work on it. I went with the split top design for two main reasons. One the main demise of my past benches has not been because they didn’t function it was that they couldn’t be broken down easily into parts small enough to be moved. I wanted to move them but in the rush to find space on the truck they always lost out to other things given their size. This bench is designed to break down into two top halves that one person can move (barely), two end leg assemblies and two leg stretchers plus some Misc parts. When I move next time I should be able to accommodate moving the bench. The second reason is one I have not really used much which is the ability to clamp down the middle of the bench. I don’t know if I will ever use this or not but It’s nice to know it’s there.

The Benchcrafted vise hardware is a joy to use. I bought the Roubo bench kit which included plans, bench bolts for the attachable legs and both vises. I can not recommend Benchcrafted as a company highly enough as their customer service is top notch. They responded to my email questions quickly and clearly and I found the whole experience a refreshing change to how customer service is so often approached by companies these days. The vise hardware itself feels solid all the way around and both vises function as smooth as silk. They are luxury vises there is no question about it but when you can move a face vise from closed to fully open in one good swipe of the handle it makes everything you do on the bench much more enjoyable.

I didn’t even count the number of hours I put into this bench but it took me about 45 days of working after hours and weekends to finish it. The benchcrafted plan’s helped a lot here as did The WoodWhisper Roubo build project I bought a while back which served as both inspiration and a step by step how to video series.

Overall I am really enjoying this bench and it’s capabilities. Between the two vises and the holes I have in the bench it has been able to tackle anything I have thrown at it so far and there isn’t anything I regret about it. The thing I wish I could have done was made it a foot longer but my current garage shop just won’t allow that.

Thanks for looking

Richard





17 comments so far

View ShogunJimi's profile

ShogunJimi

37 posts in 361 days


#1 posted 05-05-2016 03:08 PM

very nice! 45 days now, that is a lot of effort. I have plans to build something like this for my father.

-- Only a woodworker will value a good screw-up

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

23175 posts in 2331 days


#2 posted 05-05-2016 03:21 PM

Richard, this is a great bench. You’ve done a fine job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

3686 posts in 1730 days


#3 posted 05-05-2016 03:26 PM

Richard, that is a fantastic bench. Seeing it is just more motivation for me to start my own. I’m struggle with a deciding between a roubo or a shaker style. I love both and can’t decide. Looking at your bench set up I’m pretty sure your a southpaw. What are the dimensions of the top? Yours looks perfectly proportioned.

View theoldfart's profile (online now)

theoldfart

8120 posts in 1915 days


#4 posted 05-05-2016 03:27 PM

Richard, well done. That looks like an extremely solid bench. I agree with your comments on BenchCrafted. I used they’re Criss Cross on my leg vise and couldn’t be happier. Looking forward to seeing your work using the bench

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

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1145 days


#5 posted 05-05-2016 03:41 PM

Thanks for the kind words everyone.

What are the dimensions of the top? Yours looks perfectly proportioned.

- BurlyBob

The bench is 25” by 87” which is just what I ended up with after cleaning up the snipe from the 8’ boards that made up the top. I would have loved to have gone with 10’ boards for the top but my shop isn’t large enough for that. I was working on installing splines on a box last night and had the box glued up at one end of the bench while I was planning some stock to thickness to fit in the splines at the other end and while it worked I found myself wishing I had just a bit more length to the bench. There is plenty of room on the bench to do two things at once you just have to keep the clutter off the top which isn’t a bad thing.

I ended up with 25” deep for no other reason than that’s what the dimension I ended up with after milling the top boards and glueing them together. I knew I wanted no less than 24” but figured if it was a couple inches wider that wouldn’t hurt either.

View fatman51's profile

fatman51

335 posts in 1301 days


#6 posted 05-05-2016 05:13 PM

Nicely done!! very solid. I have had problems with portability in the past and I appreciate the effort that you have put into building a good work bench that you can break down and take with you when you move..

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

View Billy E's profile

Billy E

162 posts in 1544 days


#7 posted 05-05-2016 06:44 PM

Nice! Is it ash? I made one from SYP lumber with the same benchcrafted hardware. I agree with your assessment of Benchcrafted products and the support. I love having a solid bench. It makes everything so much better.

-- Billy, Florence SC

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1145 days


#8 posted 05-05-2016 07:04 PM



Nice! Is it ash? I made one from SYP lumber with the same benchcrafted hardware. I agree with your assessment of Benchcrafted products and the support. I love having a solid bench. It makes everything so much better.

- Billy E

It is Ash. With what is happening to the Ash trees in the midwest Ash is pretty affordable right now around here. SYP isn’t impossible to find around me but it was going to require going enough out of my way that I decided to stick with something easy to get. Soft Maple was my other option but Ash ended up being a bit cheaper.

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WillliamMSP

747 posts in 1069 days


#9 posted 05-05-2016 07:33 PM

Very nice!

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

View bobasaurus's profile

bobasaurus

2671 posts in 2648 days


#10 posted 05-05-2016 08:05 PM

That looks extremely nice, I wish I had it in my shop instead of the crappy HF bench. Is it built from 8/4 lumber? I imagine it wasn’t cheap. I’ve been keeping an eye out for a large load of cheap hardwood for a long time now without success, might just have to upgrade the HF bench for now.

-- Allen, Colorado

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1145 days


#11 posted 05-05-2016 08:57 PM



That looks extremely nice, I wish I had it in my shop instead of the crappy HF bench. Is it built from 8/4 lumber? I imagine it wasn t cheap. I ve been keeping an eye out for a large load of cheap hardwood for a long time now without success, might just have to upgrade the HF bench for now.

- bobasaurus

It was made out of 8/4 ASH which is pretty affordable around here right now because so many of the trees are being cut down. A lot of people have gone the construction lumber route especially if you can find Southern Yellow Pine in your area. My last bench was built out of construction grade 4X6’s and was almost as sturdy but didn’t have the really nice benchcrafted vises and was shorter because of the shop it was in. I made the mistake of glueing the legs together as a single unit thinking I would be able to move it on the truck like a table. I ended up getting rid of it due to space issues so I decided if I was going to make another bench I was going to go all out. I have joked that I want to be buried with that thing as I really don’t want to build another one but who knows what the future holds. One suggestion about construction grade lumber I would make is buy it from a lumber yard not a big box store if you can. A lot of the lumber at those big box stores you can almost squeeze the moisture out of them and they really are not that high quality.

There are also a several things you can do to those HF benches to make them better and depending on what kind of woodworker you are right now it may be a good choice. My first bench a New Yankee Workshop design had some serious flaws for hand tool woodworking in it (half lap joints are terrible at preventing racking) but worked great as a primary machine shop bench.

View Jeff Mazur's profile

Jeff Mazur

69 posts in 768 days


#12 posted 05-06-2016 12:27 AM

While I can say emphatically that I have seen enough Roubo benches for two lifetimes, yours is exquisitely executed and well photographed as well. Well done, thank you!

-- Woodworking is a beautiful, physical, cerebral, and noble art.

View WhoMe's profile

WhoMe

1465 posts in 2708 days


#13 posted 05-06-2016 03:50 AM

Beautiful bench. And a lefty too. Now I know what my dream bench will look like.
Thanks for posting

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View craftedmagazine's profile

craftedmagazine

2 posts in 247 days


#14 posted 05-06-2016 03:47 PM

Gorgeous work. Just started on my Roubo, I’m doing very similar to you; I purchased the Benchcrafted plans and the Wood Whisperer video series but am using Lake Erie Toolworks vise hardware. My jointer is giving me issues so I’m kind of stuck at the point of getting the slab laminated. I’m using hard maple which is an absolute bear to work with. I can’t wait to get this done, it will definitely make my shop 100% better all around.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1145 days


#15 posted 05-06-2016 07:35 PM


Gorgeous work. Just started on my Roubo, I m doing very similar to you; I purchased the Benchcrafted plans and the Wood Whisperer video series but am using Lake Erie Toolworks vise hardware. My jointer is giving me issues so I m kind of stuck at the point of getting the slab laminated. I m using hard maple which is an absolute bear to work with. I can t wait to get this done, it will definitely make my shop 100% better all around.

- craftedmagazine

I was torn between the Benchcrafted hardware and the Lake Erie vises myself. There is just something so appealing about those giant wooden threads. I can’t wait to see pictures of your bench when it’s done.

My jointer is very finicky and I spent a lot of time messing with it to get decent results. Following The Wood Whispers suggestion I only skip planed the top boards and used clamps to pull the cupped pieces together. Overall it came out pretty good and I only had to do a little work with hand planes to flatten the outside faces. I used a router sled to flatten the top which while very messy worked very well. I was a lot more careful with the legs to get them flat and square but since they are shorter pieces they where a lot easier to deal with on the jointer. This project really stressed the limits of working in a small shop with smaller tools especially as the pieces came together into larger assemblies. I got to the point where I had to start bringing the tools to the wood instead of the other way around as my shop just is not big enough to maneuver those large pieces around it.

Good luck with your build

Richard

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