Hold fast and table thickness

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Forum topic by Chad88 posted 12-12-2015 04:51 PM 887 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 321 days

12-12-2015 04:51 PM

I plan on starting my workbench soon, which is going to be a blend of a standard workbench and a Roubo table. I would love to have a roubo table but I want a table wider than a roubo and having a top as thick as a roubo and being that wide would be way to heavy, atleast I think so. Also I would like to have a plywood top or mdf top so whenever it gets roughed up to much I could just change it. I was thinking about using 2 pieces of 3/4 inch ply wood, or 3/4 inch mdf with a sheet of 3/4 ply wood over the top or vice versa. I want to drill holes in the top to use a hold fast, but I don’t know how much thickness in the table is needed to steady hold a hold fast. If anyone can help, I’d appreciate it. Thanks

12 replies so far

View shampeon's profile


1705 posts in 1601 days

#1 posted 12-12-2015 05:36 PM

Heavier is better. Less movement. The other thing about a thick, solid wood top is that you can plane it down if it gets too roughed up. My guess is that you’re not going to change out the top as often as you think.

Holdfasts generally work best with tables that are max 3” thick, and even then you’re pushing it a bit. But all you need to do is counter bore the hole on the underside a bit if your top is thicker.

There’s no rule that says a Roubo can only be so many inches wide. I would take a couple hours and browse the mega workbench thread. Just note all the different styles and techniques for building. Then revisit your plans. I changed my mind a bunch of times about what kind of bench I wanted to build before I made mine.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Chad88's profile


8 posts in 321 days

#2 posted 12-13-2015 01:43 AM

So a 2 inch table top should work fine? I am not trying to make a feather light table, I know no matter what I make it’ll be fairly heavy. I watched a guy make a roubo table that was pretty small it he said he weighed 250 – 300. The table I want is going to be bigger because I want it to hold a table saw and a router table, so being that size and buikding it the way he did, I figured mine would be 400 pounds, I want to make mine fairly mobile. I want to make some casters that will drop down, I have am idea of how I’m going to do that, I just have to test it. I’ll definitely check out that thread, I because I’m still not 100 percent stuck on one design.

View Julian's profile


1009 posts in 2108 days

#3 posted 12-13-2015 01:49 AM

The top on my homemade work bench is slightly less than 2” and my holdfasts work just fine. One thing that helps a holdfast to hold is to rough up (with sandpaper or a file) the holdfast shaft. I would not recommend the holdfasts from Rockler. I bought these and one broke when I struck it with a mallet.

-- Julian

View Chad88's profile


8 posts in 321 days

#4 posted 12-13-2015 04:10 AM

Julian, how did you make your top? I was thinking about buying 2×12’s and ripping 2 inch wide pieces from it then laminating them together. But I haven’t ever bought boards wanting them to be flat, I haven’t paid much attention to how wavy they are. I don’t have access to a jointer so I was afraid that when I clamp them and glue then, they’ll spring back apart after I remove the clamps.

View David Taylor's profile

David Taylor

326 posts in 504 days

#5 posted 12-13-2015 04:34 AM

I made the WOOD magazine One Weekend Work bench, on which the top was two layers of 3/4” plywood (I used Home Depot “Hardwood” plywood) with a 1/4” hardboard top, screwed on so it could be replaced.

Two things about that bench.

1. In the ten years or so I’ve had it, I’ve used the heck out of it and have never even thought the top would need to be replaced

2. ToolsforWorkingWood holdfasts work fine in it straight out of the box, and have for the last ten years.

-- Learn Relentlessly

View Andre's profile


992 posts in 1223 days

#6 posted 12-13-2015 07:25 AM

My bench is 5” thick the front 8” and 3” thick to the trough, using Gramercy holdfast in 3/4” holes in the 3” part with no problems at all, the sliding deadman is 2” thick. Checkout the Work bench smackdown thread, lots of ideas there!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View rwe2156's profile


2110 posts in 898 days

#7 posted 12-13-2015 01:03 PM


1. Not thick enough.
2. Plywood too soft for dogholes.

I think the minimum thickness for dogholes is 2 1/2”. Anything less and they will be too tilted and wobble out the hole (how do I know that????). If you use plywood it will be even worse and MDF even worse than ply.

I would make a dog hole strip out of hardwood like maple or oak 2” wide X 4” deep set back about 3” from the edge.
Even better is make the front apron of the bench a 5” wide X 4” deep beam. You can glue one up from 3/4 material. The ply goes in a rabbet.

Make sure you build a big beefy base with stretchers and at least 4×4 legs.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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8 posts in 321 days

#8 posted 12-13-2015 01:14 PM

I was thinking about making a strip with dog holes and then making the rest of the table out of plywood maybe. But u really like the table that have a thick hardwood top, but I’m on a budget as well. What is a stretcher? For the legs I was thinking about using two 2×6’s screwed together and having one shorter so it’ll fit under the frame and the longer one behind the outside frame.

View rwe2156's profile


2110 posts in 898 days

#9 posted 12-13-2015 05:43 PM

The plywood top is fine. I would take a look at MDF can rip a sheet in 1/2 and double it with either hardboard or plywood on top.

I think the base needs some thought.
Imagine two posts with a cross beam between them like the letter H. The cross piece is the stretcher.
Here is an example of a good base that gives great rigidity (Of course you wouldn’t have the shoulder vise or the third support leg)
BTW this is the bench I am also currently building:

My first bench I built had an identical base (see pic below)
Note there is a top support right under the top.
Be sure the top support goes all the way under your dog strip (you will have to notch it).
I would joint the dog strip to the plywood field with a 1/2” thick spline.
Leave it just proud of the plywood and hand plane flush after glue up.

Good luck.
The base is really important. It will be worth the effort and you can practice making mortise and tenons.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1006 posts in 992 days

#10 posted 12-13-2015 08:06 PM

You can glue up 3/4”mdf 3 layers thick and that would make it 2 1/4” thick,then coat it or not.when it gets beat up,flip it.

View Julian's profile


1009 posts in 2108 days

#11 posted 12-13-2015 08:37 PM

Chad; I glued up particle board and plywood. Use as many layers are you like to achieve your final thickness.

-- Julian

View benchbuilder's profile


265 posts in 1868 days

#12 posted 12-14-2015 10:43 AM

Hey chad88, seens to me you really need to do some more reading before you build. As stated here check out the fourm, workbench smack down. The name roubo is used a lot for many different styles of benches here,.read a few books on workbenches before you build and that way you will build what you need. What we want isnt always the best to build as it sometimes turns out to be just looks not useable. Take your time and do it right. Beat up rough workbench tops just say they have been usefull.

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