Junior Roubo Workbench

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Project by tpmwoodworker posted 11-08-2015 02:40 AM 16721 views 9 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Yes, another workbench project. But this one has a twist.

I’m still pretty new to woodworking. I’ve been at it for about a year. My first major project was a workbench which I posted about earlier. Then I built a small sailboat. But as I learned more and did more I wanted to my sons to be able to learn some of these skills and be able to do projects on their own. But at 7 and 9, they’re not nearly tall enough to work at my bench. And I’m protective enough of it that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea anyway.

So I got the idea of building a custom-designed workbench made for small boys not much taller that four feet. The other part of the equation was that since I’d built my own workbench my joinery skills had advanced substantially. So in addition to creating a workbench for my sons it was an opportunity to build at a level I wasn’t capable of when I built my own. Like many of you I’ve always admired the “Roubo” workbenches that Chris Schwarz has popularized over recent years. So I tried taking some elements of the Roubo design – mainly the thick beams and the sliding dovetail tenons – and making plans for a Roubo-inspired workbench for small boys. I call it the Junior Roubo.

Here’s the original design, which I barely departed from. As you can see, 26 inches tall. Made for young boys.

As you can see, the design is pretty elementary: laminated 4×4s for the surface, 4×4 legs joined with sliding dovetail tenons and then 2×4 stretchers joined with mortise and tenon joints. No nails or screws or any metal and all from Douglas Fir 4×4s and 2×4s. The shelf on the bottom is made of 3/4 pine planks, supported by 1×1 pine beams which are hidden.

The whole project is hand tool only. The I gave a generous helping of Danish Oil for a basic level of protection. And I added a Rockler quick release face vise, plus cut a basic set of dog holes and made a few dogs for this bench.

This was the challenge I was most excited about, cutting these babies.

And there they are.

The first of several moments of truth. I didn’t add pictures of the various test outs before final glue up. But the thing about these sliding dovetail tenons is that even without any glue the joints made the table almost strong enough and rigid enough to use as a finished workbench. Unjoining them was quite a challenge.

There are so many interlocking joints on this project, I had assembled and disassembled it several times. Now everything was checked, sanded and tested. Time to glue up.

The finished projects before adding the vise and dogholes.

Would love to hear your feedback. Thanks for reading.

-- Newcomer to Woodworking, Looking to Learn More

6 comments so far

View RustyHacksaw's profile


145 posts in 2476 days

#1 posted 11-08-2015 04:50 AM

Wow that is great. I’m sure your two boys will love it, and you men will have a lot of fun learning together.

Great job Dad.

View waho6o9's profile


9055 posts in 3789 days

#2 posted 11-08-2015 05:08 AM

Stout bench, good job tpmwoodworker1

View observer100's profile


476 posts in 2322 days

#3 posted 11-08-2015 10:01 AM

Now how could you possibly resist making a project on this little fella just to break it in …

-- Seeing is believing.

View gsimon's profile


1327 posts in 3325 days

#4 posted 11-08-2015 02:38 PM

great project, Maybe my next sign order will be …”TPM Woodworker & Sons” :)

-- Greg Simon

View BenjaminNY's profile


136 posts in 2614 days

#5 posted 11-08-2015 03:38 PM

When the boys outgrow it you can use it as an assembly table. A good investment for now and later. Nice project.

View SteveGaskins's profile


762 posts in 3799 days

#6 posted 11-08-2015 04:14 PM

Its great to build a bench such as this one that can be utilized by you and your two sons; what memories will be produced throughout the coming years around this bench. The build looks great, and it has always been one of my favorite benches, but a standard Roubo bench is still on my bucket list to do. Added to favorites.

-- Steve, South Carolina,

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