Roubo-ish work bench #2: Legs

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Blog entry by galooticus posted 05-14-2017 03:38 PM 1129 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Laminating the Top Part 2 of Roubo-ish work bench series Part 3: Stretchers »

OK, I left off last time with laminated top, but no legs for it to stand on. The legs are from 4×8 stock; the same old douglas fir:

My intention from the beginning was to do the roubo-style double tenons, with the front tenon being some sort of dovetail like thing. I decided to go tenons (tails?) first, then mark the mortises in the top using each individual tenon. To find the tenon length, I measured the thickness of the top and added around 1/8” for fudge room. I agonized quite a while over the tenon layout as viewed from the top, particularly the shoulders. At 4×8, my legs are much wider than thicker. I would have liked a bit of shoulder on the inside of each leg to help reduce front-back racking, but decided there wasn’t enough space to have a big enough shoulder to matter. So, I ended up with 1” shoulders on either side, and a 1” space between the twin tenons.

Based on the Roubo plate, I could see that the triangles on the tenons weren’t a clean 45-45-90. The thickness of the front tenon was about 1 1/4”, and I think I brought the triangle in around 1”. Put another way, viewed from the front of the leg, the triangle is deeper than it is wide.

I neglected to get pictures of cleaning out the waste between the tenons. I did this by drilling with a 14/16” auger bit through near the base/shoulders. Then I took a 1” chisel, knocked the block out, and pared down to a flat shoulder.

Cleaning up at this point and later fitting the tenons to their mortises was a pain in the butt. Maybe I lack the skills (or tools? A longer chisel or should plane probably would have helped), but the dual tenon more than doubled the fine-tuning effort. “More than”, because, as I said, cleaning up in the space between the two tenons was a pain in the butt.

Anyway, on to the morises. I set each leg tenon on its intended place on the bench and marked out with a knife. I did this for both the top and bottom of the bench, squaring across the edges to line things up. Then it was a matter of clearing out the waste. I sawed into the outer dovetail tenons and knocked most of the waste out of the chisel. The broad face of these tenons was cleaned up by turning the bench up on its side and using a router plane.

The square tenons were bored out and pared with a chisel from both sides.

Ready for fitting! As I mentioned before, fine tuning each of the joints was a pain in the but, and took quite a bit of fiddling.

For some reason this picture makes it looks like the legs are splayed out, but they are actually square.

Next is the new bench next to the old approximation of a bench. The shelves on the old bench have been evacuated, and it’s ready for tear down. For some reason my wife really likes taking big things like this apart, so I gave a crowbar and saw and she made short work of it without much prodding. After arranging for a special trash pickup, the old bench was no more. From this point on I worked entirely using the new bench.

I think I’ll close out this blog post here. Next up is stretchers.

-- Andy in CA

2 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile


11048 posts in 3055 days

#1 posted 05-14-2017 08:01 PM

It took me days to fine tune the dovetailed tenons, fun huh?

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

View galooticus's profile


50 posts in 1505 days

#2 posted 05-15-2017 12:02 AM

Good to know it’s not just me. I think it took me a week, on weekdays I work on this stuff at most 1-2 hours a day. The hard part for me was figuring out where to take off material. And working the legs in and out many times until they fit.

-- Andy in CA

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