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Roubo workbench with Doug fir??

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Forum topic by JP4LSU posted 12-31-2017 01:40 AM 959 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JP4LSU

80 posts in 141 days


12-31-2017 01:40 AM

Topic tags/keywords: roubo douglas fir pine

Hey ya’ll, I’m a noob in Fort Worth, TX. I’m starting to get into woodworking with hand tools and have been acquiring new and used items this past year and am ready to build a Roubo. I love working with my hands and hand tools just connect you to the work. Hand work has intrigued me and I’m looking forward to learning and building.

So enough rambling.

Is Doug Fir too soft for a workbench?
Pine will be just as soft wouldnt it?

Seems like a lot pine benches out there.

I plan on installing a leg vise and tail or wagon vise.

I’m in planning stage now, and have a few other projects before getting this one started. I figure this will be good practce at mortice/tenon joints, dove tail, etc. Before working up to some furniture. My plan is not to use lag bolts etc.
Thanks for the inputs
JP


23 replies so far

View newwoodbutcher's profile

newwoodbutcher

740 posts in 2844 days


#1 posted 12-31-2017 01:55 AM

Doug fir is a great material for a roubo bench top and legs, make sure the top is a good 4”-5” thick, same with the legs.

-- Ken

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

1382 posts in 1792 days


#2 posted 12-31-2017 02:41 AM

Why would you want to use DF is not that easy to work. If your planning on buying the stuff they sell at the home center you really making life hard.
Good luck

-- Aj

View bigJohninvegas's profile

bigJohninvegas

448 posts in 1456 days


#3 posted 12-31-2017 05:47 AM

Doug fir, or southern yellow pine both work great.
Start with 2X10” or 12” wide boards.
The wide boards will be cleaner, with less knots than a 2X4.
All green wood so will need.time to let it air dry.

-- John

View JP4LSU's profile

JP4LSU

80 posts in 141 days


#4 posted 12-31-2017 05:54 AM

Thanks AJ and Ken.whatever I use I’m getting it from a lumber yard not a box store.

There is one yard with rough sawn and I can have them surface 2 sides but that will be RWL stuff. That will be pine and hardwood.

Another has to order DF and I’m not sure if it has radius ed corners.

I would mind a slight contrast in base to top.

Alder seems to be pretty cheap here so maybe that’s an option as well. I would love a soft maple top but that might get pricey.
-JP

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

7879 posts in 2144 days


#5 posted 12-31-2017 05:57 AM

Doesn’t need to be an expensive bench. Use what you can get a lot of cheap. Mass is more important than hardness. I used oak for my bench, because I got it cheap. Otherwise I would have used fir or alder.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View JP4LSU's profile

JP4LSU

80 posts in 141 days


#6 posted 12-31-2017 03:01 PM

Thanks Big John and JMartel, I’m going to start hunting and pricing the DF, SYP, and Alder. Alder is not a lot more than pine here.
One place sales ponderosa pine, which I don’t know what it looks like.

More importantly I need the the boards surfaced to dimension the things kness. I don’t want to hand plane the surfaces of all the boards since I don’t have a planer.
Thanks guys for the input.
AJ, I’m unaware of DF being difficult, my assumption has been it would be similar to SYP due to softness.
-

View JADobson's profile

JADobson

1033 posts in 2105 days


#7 posted 12-31-2017 03:20 PM

I’ve got my Doug fir on order. I’m convinced it will be a great bench top. Check out Brent Parkin’s bench.
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/337329

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany

View jdh122's profile

jdh122

1008 posts in 2812 days


#8 posted 12-31-2017 03:54 PM

Southern Yellow Pine is harder (and heavier) than Douglas fir. Alder is softer than either one. If you have easy access to SYP at price no more than the other two species, use it. Ponderosa Pine is from the West Coast, not considered to be in the SYP family, and is pretty soft. You could make a workbench out of it (mine is made from Spruce, since that’s what I can get cheap here) but you might as well not. You can check out hardness and densities here: http://www.wood-database.com

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View DMC1903's profile

DMC1903

285 posts in 2321 days


#9 posted 12-31-2017 04:15 PM

I opted to use Douglas Fir for my bench top, so far no issues and was a good choice. We have millions for these trees in our area..

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

1382 posts in 1792 days


#10 posted 12-31-2017 04:18 PM

Douglas fir has both hard and soft layer. So using it for practice on jointery like Dts or mortises and tenons will be frustrating. It a good wood for building houses and machines nicely makes your shop smell great. But it has pitch so extra time is needed to clean.
Don’t believe me buy a piece and see for your self. My first work benches where plywood until I could afford a maple bench.
Good Luck

-- Aj

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

2273 posts in 934 days


#11 posted 12-31-2017 04:46 PM

I think it’s fine to use DF for a first bench or an inexpensive alternative. I did just that and it has served me well. It’s true that it isn’t the best material in terms of durability and it won’t have the heft of a bench made from harder, more dense woods, but for me, it was a good starting point and gave me a decent work surface as well as a bench vise to use for holding work. Some of the points others have made are true, such as inconsistencies in wood density, difficulty in cutting certain joinery like mortises and the fact that it’s not a heavy wood, so the bench will be somewhat lightweight. But for a starting point in woodworking, I think it’s fine.

One day I will probably make a more substantial bench, but here’s my DF bench.

Click for details

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View JP4LSU's profile

JP4LSU

80 posts in 141 days


#12 posted 12-31-2017 09:40 PM

Thanks AJ, I think Im leaning towards yellow pine for the top considering price and ease of working. Also it will be softer than much of what I’ll be working on.

I might do a litter harder wood for legs for a little contrast as long as the price isn’t crazy.
Thanks for the tipsame guys,
JP

View JP4LSU's profile

JP4LSU

80 posts in 141 days


#13 posted 12-31-2017 09:43 PM

Builtin, that is a very nice looking bench. I like the contrasting accents.
I hope mine comes out as nice. Good job
-JP

View Mr_Pink's profile

Mr_Pink

77 posts in 366 days


#14 posted 01-01-2018 12:55 AM



Thanks AJ, I think Im leaning towards yellow pine for the top considering price and ease of working. Also it will be softer than much of what I ll be working on.

I might do a litter harder wood for legs for a little contrast as long as the price isn t crazy.
Thanks for the tipsame guys,

If you’re going to use a harder wood for part of the bench, I would (and did) use it for the top.

Btw, I used Douglas fir 4×4s from a big box store for my base. I’m very happy with it now, but they were not fun to work with hand tools. Unless you can get very nice, dry Douglas fir, I would suggest SYP or something else.

View JP4LSU's profile

JP4LSU

80 posts in 141 days


#15 posted 01-01-2018 03:16 PM

Thanks for the advice Mr Pink, what is the rational for using a harder wood for the top?
Is it purely durability?

My thought is to use a wood for the bench top that is softer than the funiture I’m building for the instances that I’m not careful or drop a piece onto the work surface.

Thanks
JP

showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

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