Roubo Workbench Build #1: Getting Started...

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Blog entry by RPhillips posted 10-23-2013 02:57 PM 4009 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Roubo Workbench Build series no next part

Hi guys, this is my first Blog as I start my journey into the realm of fine wood working. I decided earlier this year that I would like to get more involved in working with wood and creating my own furniture and such. It all started with building a Apothecary style console for my wife that I got the plans for off the internet. While building that project I soon learned that I desperately needed to upgrade my tools. Since then I have acquired a few of the must have power and hand tools but I still have no proper workbench. So that leads me to this build.

After finding this site, I soon found the Workbench Smack Down thread, which has a ton of awesome benches. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted to build an 18th century style work bench, aka a Roubo work bench. The thread also has a lot of incite into how to build your bench and a ton of knowledgeable people that will answer nearly any question or concern that you may have regarding your build.

With resources and funds being limited, I decided to start saving every penny that I could in order to purchase the wood needed to build a bench. I tried finding a reclaimed lumber source, but the only thing I found was some crack selling reclaimed wood at about three to five times what any person in there right mind would pay. So, back to saving pennies. Then, I came across some large timbers at work. There was a few 8” x 8” x 8’ Oak timbers being used for rigging on few pieces of large equipment. I also spotted a couple of pieces of 12” x 12” x 4’ laying around too that I thought would work great for the legs. I asked what was to be of the wood and soon I was loading the salvageable pieces into my truck.

So now with the large timbers in my possession, I had to figure out a way to break them down into manageable sized pieces. A band saw! So I searched Craiglist for weeks in hopes to find a band saw that would handle the timbers and also fit into my budget. No such luck. I then stumbled upon a Craftsman band saw that had enough re-saw capacity to suit my needs and the price was better than what I was finding on CL. So after giving CL two more weeks, I decided to get the Craftsman Model # BAS350, which actually was on sale and I had a coupon I found online, so I ended up get it for under $275. Not bad. If I decide to upgrade down the road, I should be able to re-coop most of what I invested.

Now for the 12” x 12”. How am I to cut this? I decided to only was to rip it with a handsaw. I knew this was going to be a challenge, but I failed to realize that it would take me about 5 hours to get through this beast. I thought that after about a solid hour of sawing and I’d be through it, but that was only wishful thinking. I’m not sure exactly how long it took, but it was 5 hours from when I started to when I had two pieces setting in front of me. I even took to Lowe’s to buy a new 24” Stanley hand saw thinking that the old Disston I got from my Dad just wasn’t sharp enough. I did take a pass on either side with my circular saw, but that wasn’t much help, and may have actually made it more difficult as the kerf was wider than my hand saw allowing the blade to bind and bow, resulting in an even wider kerf.

With that challenge tackled, I set out to cut down the two pieces of 6” x 12” in half and get them prepped. I was able to easily rip them on the band saw and then squared them up with my hand planes. I was still not happy that all the legs were of different size from 5 3/8” to 5 9/16”, so I decided to rip them all to the same size on my table saw. Now after another quick planing and little sanding, the legs are ready to be cut to length and have the dovetails/tenons cut.

Now I am patiently waiting for my copy of Chris Schwarz’s Workbenches: from Design and Theory to Construction and Use arrive so that I can get the design of my bench finalized before I proceed any further.

During this and other builds I found it difficult using my table saw as a workbench, it seems that tools would just pile up too quick and I was constantly moving tools and stuff out of my way so that I could work. To resolve this I built a mobile workstation that also have tool storage capacity. I can use this for a workbench as well, but it intended purpose is to have some where other than my work space to set my tools. Since I have no really storage, this will also store my most used tools so that they are always in arms reach.

Thanks for reading!

Click for details

-- Rob - Indianapolis IN - Learning... one mistake at a time...

10 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile


12868 posts in 3696 days

#1 posted 10-23-2013 03:08 PM

Rog, it’s gonna be sweet.

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

View chrisstef's profile


18135 posts in 4252 days

#2 posted 10-23-2013 03:09 PM

I cannot add enough man points to your reputation for tackling that giant timber with a hand saw but suffice it to say you have doubled your previous count on the MPI (man points index).

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

View RPhillips's profile


1323 posts in 3081 days

#3 posted 10-23-2013 04:05 PM

LOL thanks Stef

-- Rob - Indianapolis IN - Learning... one mistake at a time...

View Tedstor's profile


1691 posts in 3878 days

#4 posted 10-23-2013 04:48 PM

$275 for that bandsaw?? Nicely played. I’ve seen the price hit $349…...which is a smoking deal. $275 is pure theft.

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

556 posts in 4243 days

#5 posted 10-23-2013 05:01 PM

And the Man of the Year award goes to Rob!

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3730 days

#6 posted 10-23-2013 05:46 PM

Dude, you earned that drink. I’ll bet your arms hate you right now.

-- Brian Timmons -

View ToddJB's profile


8791 posts in 3376 days

#7 posted 10-23-2013 07:26 PM

Dear Heavens. You earned that free lumber.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3900 days

#8 posted 10-23-2013 10:28 PM

I am so glad you got a BS for the second part of that. That is a heck of a slog to get that much sawdust made by hand.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View grfrazee's profile


388 posts in 3385 days

#9 posted 10-24-2013 01:07 PM

I too was looking to use reclaimed wood for my bench but had to settle for buying some southern yellow pine at Menards. The SYP works fine but it doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies as much as reclaimed would.

Good score on the oak timbers, and good call on the Knob Creek!


View RPhillips's profile


1323 posts in 3081 days

#10 posted 10-24-2013 04:57 PM

Yeah, Ryan, you and me both…lol

Got lucky on the BS, it was on sale and I found an online coupon. Would rather had an old Delta, Jet, or Powermatic, but this will do for now.

Good score yes, actually being able to use them? we’ll see

and yeah, the Knob Creek is awesome!

-- Rob - Indianapolis IN - Learning... one mistake at a time...

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