Roubo Schmoobo- A hybrid approach to that massive dovetailed bench #3: Stretchers, Vises, Finishing up

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Blog entry by BigRedKnothead posted 02-26-2013 09:39 PM 8291 reads 6 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: How about them dovetailed legs. Part 3 of Roubo Schmoobo- A hybrid approach to that massive dovetailed bench series no next part

The difficult dovetails done. But it was far from complete. On to the stretchers:

I hogged out most of the mortise with a forstner bit. Then cleaned em up with my mortising machine. That machine is just too slick not to take advantage of.

The stretchers are a piece of 8/4, and a piece of 4/4 oak laminated. The front stretch has that peak angle designed to be the runner for the deadman. Unlike other designs, I made small cheeks on my tenon. No other reason than I belive this to be a big factor in the strength of the joint. Check out my neighbors sweet Napoleon Dynamite snow boots.

I admit, I didn’t drawbore the legs. I glued and pinned them. I don’t think there is any way this joint will loosen. i’ll let you know if it does in the next hundred years;-)

Now we’re getting somewhere. I made my retired neighbor sign a waiver before he helped me turn it over.

Next I had fun one afternoon making the leg vice and deadman. The were made from two of the better looking walnut shorts I had. Here’s roughed out after the bandsaw.

Then I played with planes and scrapers for awhile. I had this design in my mind before I even started the bench. This chunk has some burls toward the top which made it interesting. Little danish oil and we’re lookin about right.

NOW…..Breadboard Ends:

I use breadboard ends all the time in my furniture. I took a couple extra shots of my method because I realize not everybody realizes there is funtion behind the design. Meaning, one has to leave room for the wood to expand our it could blow out.
I do the bulk of the work with a router, and tune the joint with hand tools. That being said, I’ve never done this joint on a 4” thick top. I admit, it was a bear. Here’s the first step. Well let me back up. I did the bottom rabbet before I turn the bench over. Always thinkin.

Then I attached two scraps to true up the tongue with a pattern bit.

The end cap is made with a dado blade. Then I use my rabbet plane to get the right fit. I drill the holes on the end cap on the drill press. Fit it, then use a brad point bit to mark the holes on the tongue. Notice only the center hole is the same hole. The others have 2 holes drilled side by side. Then cleaned up with a chisel or round file. Now, when pegged, the top will be able to expand and contract.

Fit the pegs as needed. Block plane and was can help. Only put a little glue towards the top of the peg.

Here’s shovel, can ya’ll dig it?

Robbed the vise off of my old bench for my end vise.

Similar breadboard thing. But I beefed up this end.

Next I busted out the stanley 8c and flattened this bugger. I also have a veritas low angle jointer. For some reason, it caused worse tear out on oak. I even honed it at a different angle. I want my money back;-P Got the rest of my life to get better at it I guess.

Marked and drilled some dog holes. I’ve always be decent at drilling straight free hand. A long bit helps you eye it.

I knew there was a chance my gramercy hold downs wouldn’t work well on a 4” top. I was right. So I took a stepped bit, or unibit, and reemed my dog holes from the underside of the bench. This took care of the problem.

Next a planing stop done like our forefathers did.

The stop rod for my leg vise (to keep it from racking) is made from a landscaping nail. Thrifty.

Lastly, some oak boards for my lower shelf. I was diggin the two vise setup already. Another coat of danish oil and good German beer later, I have a bench. Final pics can bee seen on my project page.

I almost couldn’t believe I had done it. My old bench, now just a sharpening station in the background, shows how far I’ve come in 5 years. I’ll close this blog with something I posted elsewhere on this site:

“I will forever encourage people to build their own bench. It’s such a great opportunity to practice your skills while being easy on yourself because… it is just a bench. My first was Schwartz’s $175 bench and I used the tar out it. Just today it got demoted for my new roubo, but I’ll keep it. Build one. Not up to your standards, sell it, and build another. That’s how we improve, by just doing it.”

Questions, comments welcome. Really only started this blog because a few guys asked how I was doing that darn dovetail joint. But I’m glad I did.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

11 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8645 posts in 4653 days

#1 posted 02-26-2013 09:46 PM

very nice build.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4157 days

#2 posted 02-27-2013 03:34 AM

Great attention to detail man. I really like the unique shape you put on the chop.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View grfrazee's profile


388 posts in 3145 days

#3 posted 02-27-2013 04:46 AM

That bit you did with straightening the breadboard tongue with a pattern bit is very ingenious. I wish I had read this entry before taking on the breadboards on my bench – it would have been a bit easier.

Did you do anything special to the planing stop to keep it in its hole or is it just friction-fit?


View papargbear's profile


75 posts in 4627 days

#4 posted 02-27-2013 03:11 PM

Great job!

View MaroonGoon's profile


282 posts in 2963 days

#5 posted 02-27-2013 06:21 PM

This is a great write up, Dan. I wish everyone would write a good article explaining their design thinking and construction process for every project that they do. It’s a great way to spread the knowledge whether you are the teacher or the learner. In architecture school, I would always have to explain my design intentions and how my project came to completion during my critiques so I guess they just ingrained the habit into my being :P Again, I’m very impressed!

-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8574 posts in 2987 days

#6 posted 02-27-2013 08:08 PM

Thanks guys. Seems like I crammed a lot in this last entry without a ton of detail. Part of me cringes to sit down and do the blog because its time-consuming (I’d rather be in my shop hehe). But I know how much I’ve learned from other folks taking the time, and I just hope ya’ll can gain a little from what experience I do have. Also, having a smartprhone with a camera in my pocket makes it pretty easy to snap photos of progress.

grfrazee- My 2” pattern bit was barely able to reach thick top. Of course, if the tongue is much over 1/4”, your gonna want to do it in multiple passes. I even done this by starting with the scrap oversized and then ripping it down some.
The planing stop is just friction fit. Whenever I chop a mortise by hand. it always ends up wider in the bottom. I ripped it oversized, then jack-planed it til it was snug. Works fine so far.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View Xyloid_Curt's profile


131 posts in 3092 days

#7 posted 02-28-2013 02:07 AM

Thanks for posting this, it is nice to see the construction process.

-- Xyloid Curt "Exposing the hidden beauty in wood"

View sb194's profile


197 posts in 4023 days

#8 posted 03-01-2013 02:44 AM

That is a damn nice bench. Something to be proud of. It will last a long time and can be passed down to the next generation.


View Gibney's profile


8 posts in 2948 days

#9 posted 06-25-2013 01:06 AM

Do you have any pictures of how you buried your end-vise into the end cap? I’m working the same design – and think the breadboard end with pegs will work great, but am not sure what do to with the endcap and vise (a 7” rockler, but looks like the same basic design as yours.)

thank you

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 2874 days

#10 posted 06-25-2013 01:29 AM

Beautiful bench! How many board feet do you estimate are in the bench top?

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8574 posts in 2987 days

#11 posted 06-27-2013 12:51 AM

Buckethead- there are 14 literal 2×4x8 footers. If my math is right, it’s about 75 board foot dressed. Probably 100 ft rough.

Gibney- I beef up that end a little. Maybe these pics will help

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

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