Roubo Bench #1: Barn Wood Gold

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Tesla77 posted 12-19-2012 05:34 AM 2150 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Roubo Bench series no next part

Well underway with the Roubo bench build that will vault my woodworking endeavors into the next chapter of my life. It has been quite a journey so far and I am only a few months into it. Every Wednesday for about 2 hours or more, I pour my soul into this beast. With the help of a fellow woodworker, I am learning a lot and loving every minute of it. It’s a complete rush and I am fully addicted to the art.

Any who, where was I.

Okay, so the top slabs are glued and ready for surfacing. Using SYP for the top. Handpicked from a knuckle busting trip to Lowe’s, risking life and limb to get the straightest relatively knot-free boards. I am pleased with what we came home with.

After hand planing the boards on the face and edge, we ripped each board and ran them through the thickness planer. Clamped like hell and completed 2 slabs. Target thickness will be around 4’’ with a length of 10’ and a total depth of about 24’’ with a 1’’ gap in between the slabs. I have decided that if the bench doesn’t work out, I can use it as a storm shelter. It’s a beastly pair of wood slabs. Strategically placed boards for the face to accept the leg vice (Lake Erie) and tail vice (BenchCrafted). Not sure what material I will use for the chop just yet.

On to the legs. I wanted something unique and readily available. A Craigslist query led me to the promised land. Here in Kansas we have no shortage of farms, and farms have barns. Old one’s. Like 150 years old.

This was my first time picking through someone else’s wood, and I was not sure what to look for given my zero experience in building a Roubo bench. Borrowed a large trailer from a friend and hauled butt up to Halstead, KS. I arrived on scene to several large piles of wood separated into 6×6’s and 4×2’s and panels of this and that and what have ya. I zeroed in on the thick stock first, nabbing about 7 6×6 behemoth’s and some 4×6’s. Also grabbed about 7 6×2 planks. I’m thinking 12 foot Hayrack table for those. ;) We are quite certain that most of the wood is cedar, btw. Cedar back then was apparently corn fed, ‘cuz this stuff is dense!

With 150 year old barn wood, you get nails. But these nails are special. About half of them are rose head hand cut nails of varying lengths and thickness. I felt like Indiana Jones studying the wooden pegs and and ginormous mortise and tenons hand carved into the beams. The wood was well worn, full of nails, pits, cracks, checks, manure, chicken feed, hay, mud. It was pretty nasty, but it was awesome. It was perfect, and it will be repurposed for something other than holding up a horse barn. It’s fate now lies in my hands, destined to be shaped, planed and oiled for it’s final act. Beethoven called it Symphony No. 1 – I call it my Roubo. The first of a few, perhaps in my lifetime.

Attaching some pictures below. Wish me luck on this exciting adventure. I hope it molds me into the woodworker I dream of being. Thanks for looking!

7 comments so far

View tsangell's profile


216 posts in 3980 days

#1 posted 12-19-2012 05:40 AM


View Tesla77's profile


28 posts in 3588 days

#2 posted 12-19-2012 05:43 AM

Wouldn’t have been possible without you, bro!

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3772 days

#3 posted 12-19-2012 01:53 PM

Man, that looks like fun! Not sure how you’re going about cleaning up the old wood, but here’s a tip just in case. Be sure to hit those old beams with a stiff wire brush to get as much dirt and old funk off before you start planing. It’ll save a lot of wear and tear on your plane irons.

-- Brian Timmons -

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 3341 days

#4 posted 12-19-2012 03:30 PM


-- Joel

View buildit's profile


4 posts in 3476 days

#5 posted 12-19-2012 03:34 PM

Congratulations on the project. I read with interest because I am doing the same thing and am in the same spot with my project. Also, I got salvaged barn beams and after pulling the nails and planing the faces have some beautiful 7×7 chestnut legs and 3×5 white oak stretchers. The top was a cheat as I had a mill fabricate the top for me out of 3.5 inch hard maple. It was worth it for the top as it gives me a make-do bench to work on while I work on the Roubo. (and they got it flat!)

My xmas days-off will be spent cutting the through dovetails and mortise and doing the joining. I will watch with intrest how you progress and look forward too hearing of your progress.

Good Luck!

View a1Jim's profile


118297 posts in 4864 days

#6 posted 12-19-2012 03:39 PM

Looks like tons of hard work.


View lysdexic's profile


5349 posts in 3910 days

#7 posted 01-06-2013 07:26 PM

A lot of work – yes. Savor every moment.

Great pics.

I finished my Roubo a couple of months ago and documented the process. Maybe, just maybe, it might be of interest.

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

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics