So having promised my Mom a workbench for doing some stone carving, I’ve decided I’ll make myself a decent-sized (read: massive and hundreds of lbs) Roubo style workbench, connecting the thick solid top with massive unglued mortise and tenons in order to be able to knockdown the bench for winter storage…because…it’s gonna be an OUTDOOR Roubo. That’s right, all weather workbench! Either marine spar or even bar top finish to provide “weatherproofing” which I put in quotes because nothing is actually weatherproof. You have to accept that and move on, I believe.
So what’s a Roubo, and why that?
I have both the C. Schwartz and Scott Landis’ books on workbenches – the Landis book is almost a sacred document to me – and I think the Roubo is clearly the best choice for my strange idea of an outdoor fine bench. Why outdoor? Well I don’t have a workshop to speak of, so it’s outdoor or nothing. I live in Northern Illinois, so severe weather (ranging from -20f in winter to 100+f in summer) is a fact of life, so either make a weird choice, or sit inside and wish you were working on something. I could stick up a piece of plywood between two horses, and I’ve done that when needed, but let’s be honest, that makes me a little ill inside. If the soul of a samurai is his sword, then (imo) the soul of the craftsman is his bench. So let’s do it right, or at least as right as possible given the unusual circumstances.
So here’s a simple Roubu, albeit still more complex than what I intend this time around:
So not all those sweet vices are going in there, but for the most part, there you go. Now I think I’ll use CS’s method of laminated legs, thus creating tenons without any real cuts, but the basics are just a sturdy table. I’m thinking about several different wood possibilities, but S. Yellow Pine is hard to argue against. Douglas Fir is also tempting, soft as it can be. It’s a fine furniture wood in many countries, but a wood you make cheap roof/rafter materials out of in the USA.
So how big? Big. Like 7-12′ long, and 3-4′ wide. Big enough I intend to move/assemble it twice a year, and with help (or a crane). It will live much of it’s life under some huge house eves, so it won’t be in direct sun/weather all the time, and with the top not fixed by much else than the enormous weight of it’s own construction, I can take the top off and wrap it for winter…with help.
In the next part, our hero provides detailed plans and begins to assemble the materials…
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