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Forum topic by Larry Wilson posted 11-16-2017 06:08 PM 555 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Larry Wilson

24 posts in 1609 days

11-16-2017 06:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I want to build a split top Roubo bench. I plan on using Douglas Fir. My question is, would I be better to laminate the top in the usual fashion or would it be better to have a solid chunk of wood that is 4” thick x 12” wide? It would certainly be less work that way. Are there disadvantages to a solid piece like that?

-- Shoot pool, not people

8 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile


1493 posts in 1220 days

#1 posted 11-16-2017 06:25 PM

I think a solid slab would be more likely to warp and twist with changes in temp and moisture. A laminated top will be more stable because the individual boards have grain going in many different directions and the grain doesn’t continue from one lamination to the next. It’s sort of the same reason that plywood is more stable than a solid board. It will also be more difficult to get a slab that is completely dry on the inside so it will continue to dry out after you build it and accounting for that movement may be more difficult.

My 2 cents.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View John's profile


223 posts in 1414 days

#2 posted 11-16-2017 10:18 PM

Doug fir is very difficult to plane well in my experience. Maybe its just me, but it gives me fits.

I used a hem-fir lamination on my bench, just so it would be easier to flatten. Its pretty soft, but that bench will outlive me.

Doug fir timbers are generally pretty wet, it would take a very long time to dry out enough that i wouldnt be concerned about it warping.

-- I measured once, cut twice, and its still too short...

View nkawtg's profile


263 posts in 1084 days

#3 posted 11-16-2017 10:29 PM

Doug Fir? for many it’s the only choice due to budget or availability of other species such as maple.

View Larry Wilson's profile

Larry Wilson

24 posts in 1609 days

#4 posted 11-16-2017 10:49 PM

Doug Fir because I live on the west coast of Canada and it’s cheap and everywhere I look.

-- Shoot pool, not people

View jmos's profile


796 posts in 2202 days

#5 posted 11-17-2017 12:51 PM

If I recall correctly Chris Schwartz’s requirement list for benchtop wood was big, cheap, and dry. If you can get doug fir that’s dry, I think you’ll be ok with either boards or a timber, but dry is the trick.

-- John

View bbasiaga's profile


1003 posts in 1828 days

#6 posted 11-17-2017 02:52 PM

Buy 2×12s and cut them down. They are usually way more dry than 2×6s. I did this for my stumpy nubs version of a roubo. I did let them sit in my garage for a few weeks to acclimate. Laminating them also helps with stability a lot, vs using one solid piece. One year in and my bench is still solid and flat. 100% doug fir.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Tim's profile


3678 posts in 1794 days

#7 posted 11-17-2017 04:23 PM

A 4×12 timber thats wet can take many years to dry fully, as in up to a decade. I’m considering going that way too and just plan on flattening it periodically. If I do, I’m going to make it with the Roubo mortise and tenons to lock them in place.

View bigJohninvegas's profile


382 posts in 1294 days

#8 posted 11-19-2017 06:29 AM

I had read a couple books, including a couple from Chris Schwartz. One of his even had good plans in it.
Look at wider boards and cut them down to size. You will tend to find less knots in the wide boards.
I too am on the west coast. And the doug fir is what I have too. Its all very wet from the big box store. I have dried it fairly quick by setting it up with stickers, covered with a tarp to make a tent, and had a box fan blowing through it 24/7 for a few weeks.

-- John

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