Split Roubo Workbench #24: Flattening and finishing

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Blog entry by lysdexic posted 10-24-2012 03:17 AM 30418 reads 2 times favorited 55 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 23: Dogs by Design. Part 24 of Split Roubo Workbench series Part 25: Workbench Bling Yo »

What can I say about about the finish other than the thought process. We have discussed an appropriate finish for a work bench ad nauseum. I chose a wipe on poly primarily because it would prevent ring stains from my beer bottles. nuf said.

I did deconstruct the bench so that the under carriage is at a workable height. Time to break out the Workmates again.

This was the time to do a little fine tuning

I was strongly influenced by the suggestions here on LJ’s thus I did some test pieces of a oil vs. water borne poly…..

Fnally, slopping on some finish. I did what I know. 3:2:1 wet sanded with 400 grit. This, followed by several coats of 2:1 mineral spirits: poly. I did smooth thangs out with an in between coats 800 grit.

Once the under carriage was finished, I reconstructed the bench. Now I tightened on the top using Spax screws to get it to its semi-permanent position.


Now it time o flatten the top. I have perseverating (yes, it is a word) over this for weeks. Router sled or Jointer plane. Machine or Hand.

I really couldn’t decide. Then one evening, after a few NB Rangers, I thought that i would just thought I set up a raking light and discover the high spots. Survey the land so to speak. Well, I did so and use the technique of marking the spots where the top touched the straight edge. This is what I came up with.

I also tuned up my winding sticks as they had “moved” since their construction. Thanks to BHOG for calling me out on this. I didn’t taking any pics of the winding sticks because I couldn’t figure out how to wink with the camera.

Now for flattening. I had seen this documented several places but the pearls are:

Take your time make thin shavings
Trust the flatness of the sole of your plane
Use a raking light and check your work.
Mark your high or low spots
Go diagonal ///// then go the opposite direction \\\\\\\\ the go down the length
Do this methodically, check your work until you have eliminated to lowest spot

Finally i pared all the internal hollows with a chisel, re-established my chamfers, and re-counter sunk the dog holes. The square dog hole corners were “broken” with a rasp.


This is where I am now. The top has 2 coats of wipe on poly. I didn’t use Tung oil because I want to diminish any darkening.

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

55 comments so far

View Boatman53's profile


1089 posts in 3654 days

#1 posted 10-24-2012 03:26 AM

Well done Scott. It’s too late to think of anything witty. That is one magnificent bench.

-- Jim, Mid coast, Maine home of the chain leg vise

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 4056 days

#2 posted 10-24-2012 03:33 AM

I am speechless. It is soooo sweet. Definitely envious. You have done a marvelous job sir.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17825 posts in 4076 days

#3 posted 10-24-2012 03:48 AM

Wow. You’ve created an incredible shop partner, Scott! Well done, congrats, etc. I’m particularly impressed that you used the Force and planed it flat vs. using electric tools. Truly a heirloom piece.

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

View Brit's profile


8508 posts in 4300 days

#4 posted 10-24-2012 03:50 AM

Great ‘how to’ Scott. Thanks.

-- 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 4080 days

#5 posted 10-24-2012 03:58 AM

Thanks Andy. THe caliper measurements are just for shits and giggles.

Smitty, you know, flattening the bench top took a little gumption. I just knew that I would end up chasing my tail, make a disaster of the whole thing, and end up doing the router jig as a bail out.

No kidding, as I took my first few swipes with the #7, I thought to myself “Ok, Smitty thinks I can do this.”

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

View lysdexic's profile


5353 posts in 4080 days

#6 posted 10-24-2012 04:26 AM

Joseord, thank God somebody finally understands me. Your spam couldn’t have been more on time and on target.

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

View Brandon's profile


4382 posts in 4409 days

#7 posted 10-24-2012 04:47 AM

Scott, your bench is a paragon of excellence; I’ve run out of words to describe it because you keep posting pictures of it. Great work. Good info on the colon stuff too, Joseord.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17825 posts in 4076 days

#8 posted 10-24-2012 04:52 AM

I really do think you can, believe you did, and consider the results exceptional.

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

View thedude50's profile


3613 posts in 3935 days

#9 posted 10-24-2012 09:13 AM

it is a good thing when self doubt gives way to trial and ends in self confidence . You did a great job I knew you could do it and I am proud of your work and of your efforts. this reminds me of a book I am reading because of Roy Underhill . The book is about a school in Scandinavia and a teaching method that brings confidence and character through woodworking it is the teachers guide to sloyd you cold read it if you like but you remind me of the book

-- Please check out my new stores and

View ITnerd's profile


263 posts in 4057 days

#10 posted 10-24-2012 01:05 PM

Epic and Stunning. Andre would be proud to see the blood, sweat and tears you put into that bench.

-- Chris @ Atlanta - JGM - Occam's razor tells us that when you hear hoofs, think horses not zebras.

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5339 days

#11 posted 10-24-2012 01:25 PM

Absolutely gorgeous.
Well done Sir.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Mosquito's profile


11757 posts in 3750 days

#12 posted 10-24-2012 01:59 PM

Very nice! Finish is looking great!

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Mauricio's profile


7170 posts in 4609 days

#13 posted 10-24-2012 02:03 PM

I knew you could do it Scott! Looks great and I think the top came out great. Nice color and character.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View GrandpaLen's profile


1652 posts in 3730 days

#14 posted 10-24-2012 02:38 PM


That is indeed a handsome bench, an extension of your perseverating.

Nicely executed, fine fit and finish.

Mother Nature should be proud of what you’ve done with her trees.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View AnthonyReed's profile


10196 posts in 3898 days

#15 posted 10-24-2012 03:24 PM

Just spectacular Scott.

Did you run into any issues with spelching while flattening the top?

-- ~Tony

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