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Roubo style workbench from LVL

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Forum topic by JimDantin posted 11-16-2010 11:31 PM 5602 views 2 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JimDantin

16 posts in 2563 days


11-16-2010 11:31 PM

Topic tags/keywords: work bench workbench gluebo lvl

I’ve been working on a new workbench. It is Roubo style, but made from LVL (aka Gluelam)—inspired by the Gluebo bench article in the November 2009 Popular Woodworking.

I made some design changes to simplify and strengthen the joints. The top and base are constructed from some 14” x 20’ LVL beams that I bought on craigslist. I did a Sketchup model early in the project. There have been some minor revisions, mainly dealing with the addition of a hardwood skin.

Pictures of the build are in my Workbench Project album#.

It’s getting close to being finished. The LVL material has been quite nice to work with. I ended up using two main board sizes—3” for the top, and 5” for the legs and stringers. It’s mostly held together with Titebond III glue, with a few screws here and there for added (but probably unnecessary) support. It is VERY solid with absolutely no racking.

The joints are designed around construction-grade tools—I am not a skilled cabinetmaker, and beautiful joints are not in my skillset yet—the bench is going to be a woodworking training tool for me. I ripped the beams on my Ryobi BT3000 tablesaw. I used a dado stack for four of the leg mortises. I used my Dewalt planer extensively to true up the LVL and to finish the cherry. All other cuts were made on a miter saw. I used a router to mortise out the back if the vise face and to clean to the leg tenons. Lots of clamps, many recharges of the batteries for my drill/drivers, and some hand plane work to clean up the top.

I designed in an antique Wilton vise, a pair of Gramercy holdfasts. and will add a leg vise.

I acquired some inexpensive rough-sawn cherry and milled it for the facing skin of the bench. LVL edges splinter and chip easily, so the cherry gives it a needed reinforcement.

Questions or comments are welcome.

Jim

-- Jim, Prospect, KY


7 replies so far

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crank49

3980 posts in 2430 days


#1 posted 11-17-2010 01:11 AM

LVL, laminated veneer lumber. What’s the difference between this and plywood? I’ve built my bench over the last 6 months, a little at a time, from plywood which I laminated into the thicknes I wanted. My top is different from yours in that I made it from 4 layers of 3/4” plywood and toped it with MDF, but the legs and stretchers are very similar to yours, layers of plywood with hardwood faces on the legs. I used AC exterior grade Sandply and glued it all up with Titebond III also.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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JimDantin

16 posts in 2563 days


#2 posted 11-17-2010 01:22 AM

LVL is like plywood on steroids. It’s 1 3/4” thick and the laminations are MUCH thicker than normal plywood. Look at the pictures—the EDGES of the LVL are exposed on the top.

What sort of joint design did you use?

-- Jim, Prospect, KY

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crank49

3980 posts in 2430 days


#3 posted 11-17-2010 01:44 AM

I used through tennons on the legs to long stretcher joints. Bench bolts in counterbored holes connect the short stretchers, front to back, and also pass through the tennons so the bolts serve as pins for the tennon joints. For the top to leg connection I went off in a different direction from the Roubo design. I had not read any of the Chris Schwarz articles or even heard of Roubo before I designed my bench. I cut 4” x 4” notches out of each layer of the top except for the very top layer so when the top was glued up I had sockets into which I inserted the legs. The very top layer of plywood serves as a stop. The hard maple band I put around the top then makes the top flush with the hardwood face of the leg. I filled the leg sockets with 1/4 cup of slow setting epoxy before I inserted the legs. After a day of curing it’s all solid as a rock.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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JimDantin

16 posts in 2563 days


#4 posted 11-17-2010 01:52 AM

You sound like MY kind of builder!

-- Jim, Prospect, KY

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john2005

1741 posts in 1638 days


#5 posted 09-06-2013 05:19 PM

Hey Jim, I am getting ready to build a bench and am also considering lvl. What is your take on it now that you have used it for awhile? How do the holdfast…hold. How do the dog holes look. Does it still seem flat and true? I can’t see why it wouldn’t. If you had to do it over, what would you do different, if anything. Thank you.

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

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JimDantin

16 posts in 2563 days


#6 posted 09-06-2013 06:58 PM

If I ever need to build another bench, I would do it very much like this one. I have been extremely happy with the design, size, and material.

The Gramercy holdfasts grip well in either the 3” benchtop or the 4” legs. I worried quite a bit about that issue when I designed the bench and if I was to do it again, I wouldn’t hesitate to use a 4” thickness for the top.

I made a couple errors in laying out the holes in the top. A few are not usable because they are over the end vise screw and the leg cross braces. Not really a major problem, just an imperfection that could have been avoided with some better planning.

The LVL material has held up very well with none of the splinter issues I worried about. The finish I used (beeswax dissolved in BLO and turpentine) has proved to be very durable and easy to maintain. Glue spills just pop off, and a simple ragged-on re-coat makes everything look like new.

I am not a precision cabinetmaker, so didn’t attempt to make the top absolutely flat. My thought was to let it sit for a while and then re-flatten it if needed. It has not warped, cracked, or distorted in any way, however, and I never felt the need for additional flattening. The LVL planes quite easily, so an hour or so with a hand plane would be all it would take to adjust to whatever precision you desired.

The weight of the bench makes it a joy to use. It doesn’t move unless I really want it to.

-- Jim, Prospect, KY

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john2005

1741 posts in 1638 days


#7 posted 09-10-2013 03:44 AM

Thanks for the feedback. Trying to find a cheap material for the top on my upcoming build, and lvl is probably one of my cheapest options. It sounded like a great idea when Schwartz did it, but I have always wondered what a top like that does with some time and use. Thanks again

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

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