Looking for input on green wood roubo bench

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Forum topic by fumehappy posted 04-15-2013 01:51 AM 1541 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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137 posts in 2398 days

04-15-2013 01:51 AM

Hello, I had a project in mind, and I’ve been wondering if anyone had some input they could share. After reading up on timber framing, I noted that most framing is done with green wood. Considering a full roubo bench build as a timber framing project, assuming the bench top and legs are constructed with wood cut from the same tree, would this warp like crazy or be more or less stable? Assume the top is a through the middle slab 5 inches thick, and legs are all quarter sawn cuts, with few or no knot holes. My potential wood choices are: Poplar, Pine, Spruce, sugar maple and possibly beech. The thought was to mill the lumber to size, jack plane all surfaces, then apply shellac, what I am to understand is a breathable finish. Again, working under the assumption the lumber is kept indoors and or in the shop, I’m hoping the shellac finish will regulate the drying process enough to prevent significant warpage/ checking/ cracking.
Thanks for your feedback!

3 replies so far

View revF's profile


2 posts in 1011 days

#1 posted 01-17-2016 06:41 PM

So I know this post was made years ago but I’m going to reply to it nonetheless. I do some amateur timber framing, mill my own lumber etc. I think there is actually no compelling reason why a roubo can’t be built with nearly green if not entirely green lumber – theoretically, if you had a batch of wood that came off the mill square and flat I think you could immediately build the bench – if you could do it before significant movement started then a lot of the joinery itself would keep movement relatively in check. That’s a theoretical situation – regardless I think you can built a roubo with green wood. I’m tinkering with a bench project right now – the wood of which I milled six weeks ago. beyond sealing the ends with paint I wouldn’t put any finish on it until much much later. I think the main thing you have to wait a bit on is getting the surfaces of the wood dry enough that you can effectively hand plane them square – oak seems to be ready for that within six to eight weeks. You need to be able to plane enough to get a best face and edge on each piece and have them be square – for accurate layout obviously. The assumption here is that you get the bench built while the wood is green and don’t fuss about with a smoothing plane until it has actually seasoned. With this method the species of wood becomes more critical. If you want to build a roubo with green wood then I think if you can get your hands on elm it might actually be the best material for a top – interlocking grain puts a pretty serious limit on how badly a big elm slab can check in drying. Roubo specifies elm as one of two species for tops. Elm also planes as nicely unseasoned than it does seasoned – on my bench I did some preliminary scrub planing the day I felled and milled the tree. Ash is another contender – has a moderate shrink rate and does not seem to move as wildly as the oaks sometimes do. I’m going with elm for the top and white oak legs. I’m presuming I’ll have to take it apart and add wedges to the tenons after it has dried some more – but Roubo calls for that too. The other obstacle is vise parts – you can’t really tap green wood with threads and expect it to stay functional although I really pondered doing it anyway – I’m less certain about mortising in a nut but again I think I’ll wait a bit before I do that. Anyway I’d be curious how your endeavors with this have gone.

View TheFridge's profile


10332 posts in 1632 days

#2 posted 01-17-2016 06:44 PM

I wouldn’t recommend it.

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

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Dave G

332 posts in 2194 days

#3 posted 01-17-2016 07:12 PM

I used pressure treated southern yellow pine for the legs of my Roubo. I knew from previous experience that stuff behaves like green wood, plus other complications, and special handling would be needed. I let it dry out for 3 months and used epoxy for joint glue. Worked fine. After 5 years it looks perfect.

I used the SYP PT because it was the cheapest way to get some beefy legs.

Probably some use green wood because the huge piece of wood is easier to work? Impatience? Not sure why anybody would want to use green wood for anything in a joint if there are other options – only as last resort then take special precautions like I did. Draw boring might work ok?

-- Dave, New England - “We are made to persist. that's how we find out who we are.” ― Tobias Wolff

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