Adjustable emergency (sort of) split top Rhubarb bench

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Blog entry by Mike Throckmorton posted 03-10-2014 05:11 PM 1397 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I don’t have a long bench. I have two short benches owing to going from a space rich environment allowing two 7 ft benches to a space sparse environment, not allowing.

Gave one away, cut the other in half (some reconstruction involved), adding wheels.

Which is fine. Worked great for a couple of years but then my eldest daughter requested the construction of a tall, wide but very not deep (sort of like a bookcase for soup cans) pantry to roll in/out next to her fridge.

Did design, did cuts, all set to glue up, did planning. Uh oh. Wrong order.

I had no reasonably flat, usable surface large enough to glue/clamp the object with any assurance of a non-torqued up result. Trying to do it vertically (standing up) I could not imagine. So, laying down, but on what?

Luckily, I had come across an old manuscript by an 18th century American woodwright Greist Edwin Rhubarb. Evidently, this had been stolen by the french (IP theft!) a bunch of cartoon-ish drawings added and published in their popular press.

In any case, Mr. Rhubarb’s book “Make things out of wood lying around with whatever tools you can cobble up” was a life saver!

He had designed a work bench using two narrow doors clamped up to some straight timbers such that the doors could be moved closer or farther away depending on the width of bench needed (apparently found the doors on his daughter’s clothes closet). Aha! This would easily work for me as we have doors in virtually every room!


The underlying supports are all nice and jointed flat and straight. During the actual glue up, more clamps were applied to guarantee that everything was in the same plane. I used double stack of doors to improve flatness. The resulting glue up was square and properly not torqued.

And the glue squeeze-out drips wiped right off the finished surface of the doors!

That Rhubarb was a genius.

-- You are never complete, you just draw a line where done is and stop at that line.

3 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile


11627 posts in 3221 days

#1 posted 03-11-2014 12:57 AM

Didn’t he work with some guy named strawberry? Anyway great idea!

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Lynn Bradford.'s profile

Lynn Bradford.

71 posts in 2632 days

#2 posted 03-13-2014 12:40 AM

Love that Rhubarb! A genius, that guy. I did read an article about a furniture builder that used two long torsion boxes across two saw horses, that could move to fit the width of the piece he was working, or even end to end for bannisters. I thought it was very fuctional.

A good article. Keep up the good work.

-- Lynn Bradford | Indiana | A poor excuse is better than none.

View Mike Throckmorton's profile

Mike Throckmorton

124 posts in 2435 days

#3 posted 03-17-2014 04:51 PM

Hey, WodDawg, thanks!

When I have to put the closet doors back on, I think I’ll officialize this solution by making actual real live “bench” sections out of something (yet to be determined) so I can re-set this up at will.

I can easily store away the sections (lean against wall) and get it set up in minutes as needed.

I have dreams about a shop space where I could set up a real size workbench.

Though I have to say, having to dodge, weave, duck, slink to get around in my “shop” does a world of good keeping me limber. Sort of like wood-working yoga.

-- You are never complete, you just draw a line where done is and stop at that line.

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