Workbench #13: The Gapstop

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Blog entry by Dan Wolfgang posted 06-05-2017 01:03 AM 1877 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 12: Adding the Shelf Part 13 of Workbench series Part 14: The Sliding Deadman »

Stating the obvious here, but Benchcrafted’s split-top Roubo bench uses two slabs for the top. Rather than joining them, they are kept separate throughout the build. Another component, the “gapstop” goes between them, and offers some additional functionality. This is one of the features that sold me on the Benchcrafted design.

I bought some nice birch to use for the gap stop. It has a bit of color that will add a little contrast between the white 2×4s of the rest of the top. But… gee, these boards have some nice grain detail that won’t be visible if I use them for the gapstop. Of course, as those who are following along already know, I used the birch for the shelf. I needed something for the gapstop and my local hardwood store was clearancing out a few woods. I found some makore, a wood from Africa, for 50%-off, $4.something/bf. I selected two pieces, and based on the amount of dust that slid off as we pulled them out of the shelf I’m pretty sure that I was the first person to buy it in years—which is likely why it’s being clearanced out. After I got home I took a layer off of the two boards and was thrilled with what I saw! I should go back and buy another piece or two of this stuff, I think!

After squaring the board up and doing some careful measuring I found that the non-curly nice-grained piece was going to be just big enough for me to make the gapstop. I was a little surprised by this—which is why I bought two pieces. Making the gapstop was easy enough. I’m sure I spent the most time just measuring to see that I had enough in the one board. A few cuts, squaring edges, glue, clamps, done.

The fit is a little tight, but that’s ok because the inside of the rear slab needs to be taken down a little. In big letters I had written “LEFT” and “RIGHT” when assembling the tops, just to help me keep it straight. And, as I told my Mom when she had a look at my bench: I don’t need this written down any longer, I can tell left from right on my own now. The contrast between the woods is great, just what I wanted to see!

As I said in the beginning, the utility of the gapstop was interesting to me. It’ll serve as some tool organization for whatever I have out on the bench at the time. Hopefully this will help me look at least a little organized!

The gapstop can be bumped up to use as a planing stop, or it can be pulled all the way out so I can squeeze some clamps between the slabs.

It was about this time that I realized I’m actually getting pretty close to finishing this project!

Wood review—the bench now includes:

  • Burrill “white fir”
  • Cherry
  • Soft maple
  • Hard maple
  • Red oak
  • White oak
  • Birch
  • Makore

5 comments so far

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1258 days

#1 posted 06-05-2017 10:41 AM

Bench is looking great, Dan. Yes, go back and buy all the makore you can carry … it looks great!

View galooticus's profile


50 posts in 1512 days

#2 posted 06-06-2017 03:20 AM

How difficult is the makore to work with? I’d be thinking about grabbing more too.

Your bench looks so clean and sharp. What’s left?

-- Andy in CA

View Dan Wolfgang's profile

Dan Wolfgang

176 posts in 1418 days

#3 posted 06-07-2017 12:21 AM

The makore wasn’t bad to work with. Tight-grained and easy on the plane; similar to soft maple or cherry, I’d say.

The most notable thing that’s left is the sliding deadman. Aside form drilling holes, I think I’ve finished it tonight, in fact. And lots of little details to take care of, all over the bench.

View trialrun's profile


57 posts in 1417 days

#4 posted 06-29-2017 03:40 PM

excellent work so far, i’m assuming you got the makori at Parkerville during their clearance sale. I snagged a few boards as well, yet to work with them

View Dan Wolfgang's profile

Dan Wolfgang

176 posts in 1418 days

#5 posted 06-30-2017 02:04 AM

Yes, bought from Parkerville. I think it was shortly after they started the clearance price, back in early May. With their fire sale the other weekend I bought two more pieces. I’m kicking myself for not buying it all, but decided to share with another gentleman who was also looking at it. (Was that you?)

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