Roubo-ish work bench #3: Stretchers

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Blog entry by galooticus posted 05-14-2017 04:18 PM 1208 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Legs Part 3 of Roubo-ish work bench series Part 4: Leg Vise, Finishing Touches »

Ah, stretchers. These were made from douglas 4×4s—the B-stock pieces that didn’t make the cut when laminating the top. Compared to the leg-top tenons, this stage was a breeze.

As I mentioned in the last blog post, I ditched my old bench and am working entirely on the new bench from this point on. First things first, I put in a single dog hole so I could make use of a hold fast. This is the first time using anything other than irwin quick clamps for workholding. So much better! Anyway, these are just straight forward tenons, with a 3/4” shoulder on all four sides.

Here’s a shot from further back. Those shavings are only from squaring up the stretchers. My little amazon box I normally brush shavings into was totally outclassed. The legs are still a bit long; I’ll cut them down to height later. Right here the top is at 36”; my old bench stood at a proud 39”. I definitely like it lower, and plan to cut the legs down to 33-34”.

I took the top back off the legs, then cut the tenons by boring and paring, usual deal. I made the tenons as long as possible to combat the scourge that is racking. The short front-back stretchers had tenons about 2 1/2” long, and the long stretchers 4”. I forgot to take pictures of the mortises in progress. These tenons fit with little tuning and I was impressed with how square it was without any extra work.

Brag shot:

Next I took the leg/stretcher assembly and tried putting it on the top. After spending so much time tuning each leg-top tenon, this was easy. I was again impressed with myself when everything went together nice and square and without overly forcing things.

OK, glue time. I spent a lot of time working out the order in which to assemble and clamp everything for the best results. I found that doing the easiest order was to join the long stretchers into their legs first. This forms two sub-sub-assemblies which are then joined into one with the short stretchers. Before joining this to the top, I pulled everything together with clamps. I regret not getting a picture of it, but I joined two of my 50” parallel clamps together by clamping the ‘dumb’ ends using a pair of irwin quick grips. This setup was used to pull the long stretchers into the legs.

As can be seen in some of the earlier pictures, I experimented with using various bits of climbing gear to try and pull things together. This didn’t work out that well and I ended up improvising with only clamps.

For the live run, I had my wife help me through the process. She spread glue on the mortises and tenons and I fit things together. While I was fitting one joint, she would be gluing the next one. Then we lifted the leg-stretcher assembly onto the bench top and went for it. I pulled everything together with clamps and took a (impatient) break for a few days.

Forgot to mention, before putting everything together, I also bored mortises for holdfasts on one leg and a leg vise on the other. For the leg vise screw hole I got an expanding/adjusting auger bit. It worked well except for one thing: despite tightening it down as far as I could, the cutter expanded as I bored the hole! Luckily I was boring halfway each side, so it’s only wider in the middle, and on the second side I was more attentive and kept it in check.

OK, back upright. I was glad to have my bench back together. No more working on saw benches!

Time to pinch this one off. Next one will be the last: leg vise, dog holes, and finishing bits.

-- Andy in CA

2 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile


11058 posts in 3062 days

#1 posted 05-14-2017 08:06 PM

Your braver than I am. I didn’t flip the bench until I had the stretchers all fit. With a 4” oak top i was afraid that i’d break out the dovetailed tenons. Also flipping it by myself was a logistical treat. Precise workmanship seems to be your hallmark. Fun watching it come together.

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

View galooticus's profile


50 posts in 1512 days

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

I was pretty worried about the legs ripping out and ruining the top, but I wanted a better surface to work on. I want to say I recruited my wife to help with that too. Ended up being fine, and the bench was plenty solid without stretchers or glue. Some front-back racking, but nothing side to side.

-- Andy in CA

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