Roubo-Moxon Bench Build #9: Base Complete

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Blog entry by Eric posted 11-11-2010 03:33 AM 7759 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: I Don't Need No Stinkin' Lathe Part 9 of Roubo-Moxon Bench Build series Part 10: Little By Little... »

A lot’s happened lately! I pegged the long stretchers. Funny story. In my mind, the pegs in Schwarz’s Roubo were 5/8”. I didn’t have a 5/8” bit, but I had a very nice 3/4” one, so I used that and made 3/4” pegs. I figure, maybe they’re a touch bigger than the ones Chris used, but hey, no biggie. Just the other day I realized: Chris used 3/8” pegs!!! Haha, oh well, the Schwarz has said that you can’t overbuild a workbench, right?

The only thing that went wrong is that I drilled the hole in the wrong spot for one of the pegs. In a show piece, that would have ruined my month. But hey, it’s just a workbench. I plugged the hole with a scrap of peg and did it again (you can see it in the front left leg).

Then I glued up my interior 12 boards, which determined the length of my short stretchers. So I glued up my cut-to-length short stretchers and pared the tenons until they fit in the leg mortises.

But here’s where I had problems. Somehow, the front and back leg mortises on the right were just misaligned enough that the stretcher was not wanting to go in all the way. I did everything. I laid the base on its back and jumped up and down on the joint. Literally, it was just like you’d picture a cartoon character jumping up and down on something, like a suitcase getting it to close. I squeezed all four of my 48” clamps on it hoping to get it in. Finally I whittled a severe one-sided taper on a peg and hoped for the best. It worked! So while that joint might not be the best, it’s pegged and not going anywhere. If I’d used 3/8” pegs, it would have never worked.

And so now I have a base! Next step is to glue the next two boards on each side of the 12 you see in the picture. Then the benchtop, as it were, will be able to sit up on the legs. You can already see on the benchtop (far left of the pic) the start of the void mortise for the planing stop.

It gets a little tricky here, as I need to figure out how to glue up the rest of the boards around the tenons. I only have 4 big clamps, and they’re not very good, so I don’t really want to just glue them up while the benchtop is in place on the base. So far I’ve been gluing up the benchtop on its side, with the newly-glued piece at the bottom, so the weight of all the other boards serves as a “5th clamp.” But this gets harder and harder as the top gets heavier and heavier, and it also involves constantly removing and replacing the benchtop on the base to check for fit.

Light at the end of the tunnel, but it still may be a while until I’m out of it! (Absolutely must be done by year’s end.)

-- Eric at

9 comments so far

View swirt's profile


4238 posts in 3485 days

#1 posted 11-11-2010 04:05 AM

Looks like it is coming along great. Go treat yourself to a couple more clamps ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View DoctorDan's profile


281 posts in 3528 days

#2 posted 11-11-2010 05:02 AM

looks great

-- Daniel -

View Broglea's profile


687 posts in 3604 days

#3 posted 11-11-2010 06:45 AM

Nice progress.

OK – I’ve got to ask. Are you building this in your bathroom? I see all this tile in the back ground and I think I see the bottom of two towels hanging.

Go ahead and set me straight.

View KTMM (Krunkthemadman)'s profile

KTMM (Krunkthemadman)

1058 posts in 3707 days

#4 posted 11-11-2010 06:49 AM

This bench is looking absolutely wonderful. I’ve got my table saw back in one piece, so I’m getting to the point of being ready to start my bench…...

-- Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. Vince Lombardi

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 4297 days

#5 posted 11-11-2010 06:55 AM

@Broglea: Haha! Good one. It’s actually not that bad. But almost. It’s in the kitchen! The way our house is set up, we have a very large kitchen and a dining area with a ton of storage. So my wife let me have about a quarter of the space in the kitchen – just enough for me. And since I’m working with hand tools she doesn’t have to worry about sawdust getting in the lasagne!

So what you’re seeing is the curtain to our back window. It’s nice to have a window right behind the bench with good light and a nice view to the park behind our house.

-- Eric at

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3484 days

#6 posted 11-11-2010 08:59 AM

Nice looking bench. I started building mine before reading about the Roubo style preferred by Chris Schwarz, but it has many of the same attributes. I was originally inspired by a bench I saw that was made entirely from plywood. Mine has similar proportion and size of the Roubo bench, but it’s made of laminated plywood with 3/4” thick faces of solid red oak.The main problem I ran into when doing all this laminating, which I see you are also discovering, is you never have enough clamps. I started out with a couple of Jorgensen Pony pipe clamps and 4 big C-clamps and a couple of 24” F-clamps. By the time I finished my bench, well it’s almost finished, I’m up to 70 clamps.

I’m wondering how you are making sure your top is not twisted if you are building it on its side. I had started reading Chris’s blog and ran across his article about using winding sticks at just about the time I started glueing up my top. That information was priceless to me. I know my top would not have been flat if I had not read that article. It had never occurred to me that once a 3 or 4 inch thick bench top is glued up, it is not going to ever move again. If it is glued with a twist in it, it will keep that twist forever; unless you are passionate about hand planing enough to carve it flat.

View woodworm's profile


14475 posts in 4104 days

#7 posted 11-11-2010 09:14 AM

It gonna be a very beautiful workbench – now you have to find time to really use it.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 4297 days

#8 posted 11-11-2010 09:28 AM

@crank49: Well I’m just gluing it up and hoping for the best! But there are a couple things that help. First of all, I will be flattening the top when I’m done. So at least the top will be good to go. And if the outside boards are not in line with the legs, I’ll plane them down until they are. The other thing that helps is that I’m gluing one 1”x4” board on at a time. So if a particular board has a twist in it (and none of my boards have more than the slightest twist), it will get clamped up to the straight boards preceding it and will fall into line. So far, I’m having no problems. And to be honest, I have not done a single bit of prepwork on the wood before gluing the boards together!

@woodworm: Thanks much! Now I need to see if they sell boiled linseed oil in KK!

-- Eric at

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4186 days

#9 posted 11-11-2010 04:45 PM

Thats going to be a beautiful workbench.

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