Roubo Workbench #7: The Sliding Dead-man

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Blog entry by Brandon posted 07-18-2012 03:52 PM 13956 reads 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: The Leg Vise Part 7 of Roubo Workbench series no next part

I don’t think I’ve really covered the dead-man much in this series, so here’s a short blog on it. The purpose of the dead-man is to support longer boards that you have placed in your leg vise for edge planing. The design I’ve chosen for mine is a fairly bland rectangular shape as you can see here:

So, to build it I had a piece of jatoba about 5/4 thick which I hand planed and cut to size. Not sure of the exact measurements here, but I could take a tape measurement to them if someone really wants them. Then I cut a rabbet at the top to fit into the groove cut out of the bottom side of the bench top (no picture, sorry).

I then drilled a number of 3/4” holes to hold pegs or holdfasts at various heights. Then chamfered the edges of the holes with a router and chamfer bit. [Mauricio, notice how light the color is before the oil.]

One of the key issues I faced was figuring out how to make the dead-man flush with the front legs when the bottom stretcher was centered on the legs. The following diagram shows how I accomplished this:

As you can see, the bottom stretcher has a sloped top (red color). There is a bracket on the back of the dead-man that is also sloped, so that gravity pulls the dead-man (colored black) tightly against the stretcher. The Blue is the bench top. Because of the open space in the benchtop above the dead-man, I can move the dead-man around easily, but it still sits in place soundly. Here’s a photo that shows the wooden bracket on the back of the dead-man:

This is how I built my sliding deadman, but there are certainly other methods. Any questions, comments?

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

9 comments so far

View Mauricio's profile


7163 posts in 3663 days

#1 posted 07-18-2012 04:01 PM

Way to think outside the box on mounting the deadman. I’m sure the photos done do the jatoba justice, with wood that pretty you dont need any fancy shapping.

You mentioned on the workbench thread that it will hold a holdfast despite being about 1”, do you find yourself doing that much?

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

View sb194's profile


197 posts in 3530 days

#2 posted 07-18-2012 04:06 PM

Nice. I like the block on the back of the deadman.


View Don W's profile

Don W

19340 posts in 3079 days

#3 posted 07-18-2012 04:42 PM

it looks good Brandon. I like the contrasting wood. I still need to make a better one for my bench. I’ve got a quick and dirty one that works, but doesn’t look all that good.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3463 days

#4 posted 07-18-2012 05:09 PM

Thanks guys, to be honest I didn’t put that much of an effort into the dead-man, although I knew I didn’t like most of the shapes or designs I’ve seen others use. I figured a rectangle would work fine and it does. Like Mauricio pointed out, the nicest thing about it is the wood selection.

In response to Mauricio’s question, I do use the holdfasts from time to time, but usually just a peg works fine.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Brit's profile


7801 posts in 3354 days

#5 posted 07-18-2012 09:05 PM

Good thinking Batman. You didn’t fancy steam bending it then? :o)

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3463 days

#6 posted 07-18-2012 09:07 PM

Batman!? LOL, no steam bending for me, that sounds like an awful lot of work, Andy.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View lysdexic's profile


5291 posts in 3134 days

#7 posted 07-19-2012 11:52 AM

How did you attach the block to the back of the deadman?

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3463 days

#8 posted 07-19-2012 01:10 PM

Just a couple of wood screws, if I recall. That way I can remove it if need be.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View mafe's profile


12110 posts in 3601 days

#9 posted 07-25-2012 05:40 PM

Looks good.
I like the ‘simple design’.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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