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Minimum Thickness for a Roubo bench top?

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Forum topic by Chris208 posted 06-11-2015 05:37 PM 1468 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Chris208

237 posts in 1737 days


06-11-2015 05:37 PM

I have the lumber for a bench build. Its all soft maple. The lumber I got for the top is 16/4 (just shy of 16/4 really). I have 2 options:

I can rip the giant, heavy slabs, and face glue them, which will be harder, but will ensure I end up with a top of at least 4 inches.

or,

I can use them as slabs with a slab on either side of the split-top. If I do this my final bench thickness will be closer to 3.5 inches, but the build will be quicker and easier, and slab tops look better to me.

Is 3.5 inches sufficient for a roubo?

Thanks for your help!

Chris Johnson


14 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4036 posts in 1818 days


#1 posted 06-11-2015 06:31 PM

Is 3.5 inches sufficient for a roubo?

Absolutely. That is the thickness of my Roubo and I think it is just right. I have heard of problems with thicker tops where holdfasts don’t work unless the dog holes are counterbored from the underside. That seems like a lot of trouble. If I had access to slabs that thick when I built mine I would have done just like what you are contemplating, lay them flat and move on to building the base.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 953 days


#2 posted 06-11-2015 06:35 PM

1 3/4” is about the minimum I see. 4” is uge.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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Holbs

1379 posts in 1496 days


#3 posted 06-11-2015 07:50 PM

glad you asked this, Chris. As I will be doing a split roubo eventually myself. I am learning and researching for the time being. I believe, a 6’ length will suit me perfectly, more so than a 7 or 8’ length. But always did wonder about the thickness part. And availability of 16/4 beech or maple or other species for the top, locally.

-- Yes, my profile picture is of a Carpenter Bee! The name is derived from the Ancient Greek "wood-cutter"

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4823 posts in 2515 days


#4 posted 06-11-2015 07:54 PM

Mine is just under 3”, that’s plenty thick.
Mine is made of 2×12 Douglas Fir.
I have it of several years and I am very happy with it.

-- Bert

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Andre

1023 posts in 1273 days


#5 posted 06-11-2015 08:03 PM

Just a thought’ but while planning my Bench found out that I will need at least 4.25” for my tail vise which made me change my original plans of a 3” top, front 6 inches apron now 4.5” thick. Something to think about if you are not intending to go with standard face vise on the end.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Chris208's profile

Chris208

237 posts in 1737 days


#6 posted 06-11-2015 08:08 PM



Just a thought but while planning my Bench found out that I will need at least 4.25” for my tail vise which made me change my original plans of a 3” top, front 6 inches apron now 4.5” thick. Something to think about if you are not intending to go with standard face vise on the end.

- Andre

I’m planning on using the Veritas inset vise, so the thickness isn’t an issue there.

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Holbs

1379 posts in 1496 days


#7 posted 06-11-2015 08:09 PM

Andre… what species did you go for, with a 4.5” thick top? When I asked my local hardwood guy about 16/4 beech (forgot if I said quarter-sawn or not), he rolled his eyes. I have yet to research tops. Probably will have to read Chris Schwartz workbench book a couple times.

-- Yes, my profile picture is of a Carpenter Bee! The name is derived from the Ancient Greek "wood-cutter"

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Holbs

1379 posts in 1496 days


#8 posted 06-11-2015 08:11 PM

Chris… I saw that veritas inset vise. I too was going in that direction. Along with beechcraft leg vice, or make my own St (something something) cross out of angle iron or such.

-- Yes, my profile picture is of a Carpenter Bee! The name is derived from the Ancient Greek "wood-cutter"

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Chris208

237 posts in 1737 days


#9 posted 06-11-2015 08:12 PM



Chris… I saw that veritas inset vise. I too was going in that direction. Along with beechcraft leg vice, or make my own St (something something) cross out of angle iron or such.

- Holbs

I’m gonna do the benchcrafted leg vise.

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Holbs

1379 posts in 1496 days


#10 posted 06-11-2015 08:15 PM

Chris.. will you be starting a blog of your progress, here ?

-- Yes, my profile picture is of a Carpenter Bee! The name is derived from the Ancient Greek "wood-cutter"

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Chris208

237 posts in 1737 days


#11 posted 06-11-2015 08:15 PM

Probably not. I might, though.

View Andre's profile

Andre

1023 posts in 1273 days


#12 posted 06-11-2015 09:15 PM

Holbs – I came across a 20 years old forgotten stash of rough cut Birch last year, going to use some hard Maple for skirts and vise faces and if I feel up to the task a sliding Dove Tail cap on the end s out of Walnut.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View JayT's profile

JayT

4786 posts in 1678 days


#13 posted 06-11-2015 09:23 PM

Slab tops are so much cooler than laminated, IMHO. And 3-1/2 inches is more than thick enough. Definitely go slabs. Wish I could have found some good slabs when building my bench.

Guarantee the guys over here would love to follow along on the build, if you would be so kind as to post occasional progress pics.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13738 posts in 2085 days


#14 posted 06-12-2015 02:11 AM

This bench is almost 3” thick as a top slab, plenty of material.

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

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