Split Roubo Workbench #1: I have put this off for far too long

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Blog entry by lysdexic posted 03-20-2012 02:32 AM 23565 reads 30 times favorited 127 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Split Roubo Workbench series Part 2: Rough Dimensioning »

Ok, so let me get this blog started before I get so far behind that I put it off – forever.

It is undisputed that the most important tool in the woodworking shop is a proper workbench. I don’t have one.

I will not rehash the nuances of workbench design but after reading Schwarz’s and Scott Landis’s books, I had my heart set on a Roubo bench. I am not alone as several LJ’s have posted wonderful roubo benches. At first I wanted to build this…

I really enjoy the cherry and the contrasting woods. However, my preference is to switch them and have a maple top with cherry legs. There are functional reasons for this as well. Then, along the way I discovered the Benchcrafted hardware and knew that is what I was eventually going to use. Yet, the traditional Roubo has difficulties with tail vise. The problem is keeping the dog holes as close to the front edge but running into the front right leg.

Regardless, I kept putting it off and putting it off. Why? I think it is a lack of confidence. I am not skilled or experienced enough to just blow through this project without one, and primarily, way over analyzing every step to the point of paralysis. Second, making some very costly errors. Finally, I am not going to build this bench, Learn from my mistakes and build a better one anytime soon.

I chose a more guided approach.

First, I was just going to use Benchcrafted’s hardware and plans. I still prefer the monolithic slab of a traditional Roubo. But after hearing that Marc Spagnuolo (the Wood Whisperer) was doing the a guild build I was quite tempted. Still I put it off. After that, I procrastinated knowing some day I’d get a rountoit.

Finally, i committed and placed my order with Benchcrafted. More importantly, I announced to Al (Bertha) that I had begun. “I have begun my bench build.” If you don’‘t know Al you need to know that he is all business. You need to chose your words carefully and mean what you say. Also, if you speak slowly he is more apt to understand, especially the big words. Regardless, events cascaded form here. I signed up for the guild and watched all the videos. I made my shopping list. The next weekend I bought the lumber.

Anywho, this is what I am attempting to do. I am going to build this – hopefully. I will stick to my original desire and make the horizontal elements out of a lighter soft maple and the vertical elements will made of cherry.

Thanks for coming by. The next blog will be about the rough milling which I have already done.

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

127 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118322 posts in 5036 days

#1 posted 03-20-2012 02:40 AM

Have fun we will come along on you journey .


View lysdexic's profile


5353 posts in 4081 days

#2 posted 03-20-2012 02:42 AM

A1Jim, always there with a kind word to get things started.

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

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 4057 days

#3 posted 03-20-2012 02:48 AM

So….you will have it done by next week?

Look forward to updates, the pressure is on now that you went public.

Good luck!

View lysdexic's profile


5353 posts in 4081 days

#4 posted 03-20-2012 02:57 AM

That’s right Shane and another reason why I started this blog.

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

View Brandon's profile


4382 posts in 4410 days

#5 posted 03-20-2012 03:54 AM

Nice Scott—- can’t wait to see this thing!

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 5257 days

#6 posted 03-20-2012 04:19 AM

Gitter Done! You’ll wonder how you ever lived without her. Bon chance!


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17825 posts in 4077 days

#7 posted 03-20-2012 05:07 AM

Ahhh! Here we go!!!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View thedude50's profile


3613 posts in 3936 days

#8 posted 03-20-2012 07:19 AM

Scott My wood is orderd but they are saying 2-3 weeks as my suplier had to order it in mine will be based on bob langes 21 century bench it is really a split top with a odd vise configuration I ALREADY HAVE BOTH OF MY VISES WHAT SLOWED EVERYTHING DOWN IS i WILL BE making TWO AT THE SAME TIME I showed My uncle my Plans and a few things and he offered to buy all the wood I I would build the Benches I dont really feel intimidated but I would sure hate to screw one of them up and then have to keep the screwed up one so i ordered 20% extra wood all hard maple I have 3 projects in the shop right now and would like to get them done before I start the big benches I do have a cheep bench that has served me well when i didn’t plane all my boards to finish when i started doing this the first third i noticed was my bench was too light so 120 pounds of plaster are stored on the shelves to keep it in one place then i HAD ISSUES WITH THE DOG HOLES THEY WOULDN’T LET ME USE MY HARBOR FREIGHT HOLD DOWN SO OUT CAME THE AUGER sorry i keep hitting that damn caps lock then the vises they are just too week so then i knew I read 7 books cover to cover and couldn’t decide on a plan then i was looking for one more workbench book and instead I found the bob Lang article on his new bench to me he is way more respected than Schwartz and has been woodworking a hell of a lot longer and I don’t trust young guys i know but its my hangup to me they lack enough experience to tell a veteran like me how to make something hell i will probably just make it off the drawing like i have for decades. anyway my wood guy tells me most woodworkers go 30 years with out making a proper bench but he thinks the hand tool resurgence will change that and I agree with that so i read lang’s article then i ordered the dvd and settled on my bench and a few weeks went buy and i saw another dvd the monster workbench and i ordered it to but don’t like the leg configuration so I printed out the pdf of the plans and made a covered book out of them for a shop reference. I PUT UP ALL THE PICTURES ON MY JOB BOARD AND WENT TO WORK on a cut list to include my plan to make the bench 2-3 inches taller I am 6’4” and thought the regular height would kill my back I was shopping all my wood dealers for best price to my door as I don’t have a truck any more this is when my uncle came over for me to give him a bowling lesson I USED TO BE A pba BOWLER so I was telling him about my plans and that is when he offered to do the deal and I said yes this meant i had to find more wood and i wanted it to be as nice as it could be since he was footing the bill and since one of them is his he is verry pickey and if it sucks he will be the first to say so so you have a few days lead on my but Ill try very hard to keep pace but I wont sacrifice quality for speed on such an important build. I will be reading your blog every time you post and hope you will read mine this should be allot of fun congratulations on getting your wood to your shop Lance

-- Please check out my new stores and

View veneer_maniac's profile


2 posts in 3862 days

#9 posted 03-20-2012 08:17 AM

If I might ask, what’s the timber source?


-- - Frank

View Brit's profile


8510 posts in 4301 days

#10 posted 03-20-2012 08:20 AM

Good for you Scott. You will be building my dream bench. Don’t be intimidated by it, you are more than capable. When you think about it, the base is no different to the American Girl doll bed you made, just on a bigger scale. I always break a big project down into smaller sub-projects that represent manageable chunks of work, then tick them off one by one. Before you know it, you’ll be done.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Don W's profile

Don W

20387 posts in 4026 days

#11 posted 03-20-2012 10:20 AM

when I read “maple and cherry” my heart to a little pitter patter. That’s going to be gorgeous. Is Al going to give you the #4 with the cherry and maple knob and tote you he just bought?

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Brit's profile


8510 posts in 4301 days

#12 posted 03-20-2012 12:14 PM

I agree Don, maple and cherry are exotics in my part of the world.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View lysdexic's profile


5353 posts in 4081 days

#13 posted 03-20-2012 01:01 PM

I bought my wood from Rick at The Woodworking Source. I am fortunate to have this gentleman just on the other side of town. He is a pleasure to work with.

The soft maple was not a hard decision. My maple is not clear by any means as there is alot of Ambrosia worm markings in most of it. However, I thought the cherry might be over the top. Rick had some “common” cherry 8/4×8 ft boards at the same price as the maple. So, why not. I will say that in the “common” there is a lot of checks, knots, and sap the will lead to more waste. This is a workbench so imperfections are welcome.

Don, I don’t think Al would give me the time of day.

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

View lysdexic's profile


5353 posts in 4081 days

#14 posted 03-20-2012 02:24 PM

Now that I have both the Schwarz’s original and the BC bench on the same page I can appreciate some of the design differences.

I much prefer the proportions of the original roubo. I like the visual wieght of the square legs. I am considering of going through the trouble of changing the plan just to make my legs better proportioned.

The top appears thicker on the original but if I remember correctly it is actually the same thickness at 4”. This has to do with the length of the BC bench overall and between the front legs. I am not going to change that for my build.

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

View Bertha's profile


13635 posts in 4152 days

#15 posted 03-20-2012 02:30 PM

That bench looks great! You work fast:) I want the exact same bench except maybe with a split top and a traditional L-shaped tail. I’ll probably go wooden screws, unless I don’t. It’s going to be spectacular.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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