20/4 hardwood for Roubo style bench

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Forum topic by richard2345 posted 07-12-2014 06:34 PM 2040 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 2272 days

07-12-2014 06:34 PM

I’m gathering materials to build Christopher Schwarz’s Roubo style workbench, and I’m having difficulty sourcing hardwood thick enough for the bench top. The top measures 5” thick by 20” wide and 6’ long. Would anyone happen to know where I can buy either two-three large slabs of 5” thick hardwood or where I could purchase 20/4 kiln dried lumber for a reasonable price?

7 replies so far

View richardwootton's profile


1701 posts in 2128 days

#1 posted 07-12-2014 07:57 PM

Honestly Richard I would just laminate 8/4 or 12/4 to achieve your desired width. It will be MUCH more cost effective than trying to source 20/4 hardwood. I’m having to use 5/4 Red Oak for my bench so I’ll be using a whole lot of glue! ;)

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

View waho6o9's profile


8478 posts in 2750 days

#2 posted 07-12-2014 08:11 PM

What Richard said +1

for adding info ^

View shampeon's profile


1858 posts in 2356 days

#3 posted 07-12-2014 08:48 PM

There’s no such thing as reasonably priced 5” thick hardwood slabs. Even 12/4 lumber gets a lot more expensive and hard to source compared to 8/4. There’s little supply and almost no demand. Sawyers won’t slab a tree that thick since it takes 5+ years to air dry and kiln drying is more difficult.

There is no functional difference between a laminated 5” thick top and a single slab.

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

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1786 posts in 2649 days

#4 posted 07-13-2014 01:41 AM

Exactly. Drying a 5” slab without splitting and cracking is very very difficult.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View richard2345's profile


21 posts in 2272 days

#5 posted 07-14-2014 12:52 PM

Richard et. al,
Thanks for your responses. I may end up going the laminated route if I can’t find the slabs. I have a few more leads from my local Woodcraft, and if I run those down and still don’t have a slab I’ll purchase the thinner stock. Does anyone have any experience with any vendors on the east coast? Hearne Hardwoods had 16/4 hard maple, but if I end up laminating, I may go with 8/4 or 12/4 per Richard’s suggestion. Thanks again.

View chrisstef's profile


17714 posts in 3179 days

#6 posted 07-14-2014 01:03 PM

You could go with landscape timbers or 4” x 4” from the local borg. Ive sourced some old 6”x6” timbers from a job we did with the hopes of one day making a bench out of and the issue I can foresee is the weight of them. It’ll be a two man deal to pass them over the jointer. Them puppies are heavy which is good for a bench but bad for a back in a solo shop.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

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21 posts in 2272 days

#7 posted 07-14-2014 01:10 PM

Well, my thinking would be if I found the slabs I would do the jointing with hand planes, following Christopher Schwarz’s guide. If I did the laminated approach, I could use a power jointer if that would speed things up. I am just learning how to use my 6” jointer, but the results so far are far from perfect. If I did use the jointer I would have to think about the maximum size pieces 1 person could safely pass through the machine. My bench top will be 6 feet.

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