Roubo Bench

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Project by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 03-26-2011 08:50 PM 15073 views 27 times favorited 86 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Started in January 2009 and finished in March, this bench started me down the path of hand tool woodworking and I haven’t looked back. Credit goes to Scott Landis’ Workbench Book for inspiration, and Chris Schwarz for re-presenting the Roubo design in his first Workbenches book. First two pics are from initial completion, the third is from Sep 2010 and shows it in work. Fourth picture shows the row of round holes added along the front of the bench to use (initially) with a Veritas bench pup.

The fifth picture that includes the tool cabinet made and placed under the bench. A huge addition that was extensively blogged here on LJs and is it’s own posted Project. Click for details: Roubo Workbench Cabinet

Finally, I added a sixth picture to this post to show the end vise that’s now on the bench. The build of the vise chop got its own project listing here on LJs it was an addition I was plenty nervous about, truthfully, in that I don’t take any modifications to my bench lightly… But now that it’s done, I’m excited for the capability it adds!

But, back to the bench…

Top is a single piece of oak, nearly 3 inches thick, that was originally a threshhold in an old house torn down in the early 1990s and saved for a “someday” project that ultimately became this bench. I sandwiched the block w/ 3” white oak pieces to get uniform thickness AND to get 24” depth for the work surface. The underside still has the gray paint with dados for sidelights. :-) Handplaned the surface with a wooden Sandusky jack before I knew what I was doing, but got through it! I think there were three garbage bags of shavings before all was said and done. The legs are blind-mortised into the top and draw-bored, as are the stretchers. I really had no idea what I was doing at the time; more guts than anything. Chris’ book steered me through it at each step of the way, though. I truly relied on that book.

Legs are eastern pine, planed down from large solid-wood outside window sills of the same house. All wood on the bench is salvage, including the leg vise hardware, sliding deadman and leg vise chop.

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

86 comments so far

View Napoleon's profile


788 posts in 4265 days

#1 posted 03-26-2011 10:34 PM

What a nice piece of work :)

But is this not an old design and not Chris Schwarz design ?

-- Boatbuilder&blacksmith

View coy's profile


5 posts in 4075 days

#2 posted 03-26-2011 10:35 PM

To say that is beautiful is an understatement. The problem is I’d be afraid to use it… I wouldn’t want to mess it up.

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 4817 days

#3 posted 03-27-2011 12:54 AM

One great designed and fininshed re-cycled lumber strong bench….very well done..:-)

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17825 posts in 4074 days

#4 posted 03-27-2011 12:57 AM

It’s a great user and can take all the poundage I can muster. And sure, it is a Roubo; design choice was aided by the Schwarz bench book. Thanks for the comments!

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

View steliart's profile


2895 posts in 4144 days

#5 posted 03-27-2011 01:38 AM

very nice workbench

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

View MShort's profile


1798 posts in 4874 days

#6 posted 03-27-2011 02:40 AM

Great looking bench. Looks very sturdy.

-- Mike, Missouri --- “A positive life can not happen with a negative mind.” ---

View Bsmith's profile


330 posts in 4126 days

#7 posted 03-27-2011 04:15 AM

From one Smitty to another, great job on the bench and welcome.

-- Bryan

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4571 days

#8 posted 03-27-2011 05:01 AM

nice work :-)
welcome to L J enjoy and have fun

take care

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17825 posts in 4074 days

#9 posted 03-27-2011 06:11 AM

Thanks guys for the shout outs. Want everyone to know there’s no reason to think a bench build needs to wait. To the contrary- jump in with both feet because it WILL change the way you work!

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

View mafe's profile


13872 posts in 4545 days

#10 posted 03-27-2011 04:44 PM

That is a wonderful bench.
I love that top slap, beautiful, usefull and durable.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 4111 days

#11 posted 03-27-2011 09:22 PM

Awesome work.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View JasonD's profile


180 posts in 4318 days

#12 posted 03-29-2011 03:22 AM

First of all, gorgeous bench. The figure on the top and the board jack.

Secondly, the history of the wood makes it ten times more cool. :)

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 5176 days

#13 posted 03-30-2011 06:38 AM

Great bench, a couple of questions. Do you use the crochet and if so do you like how it works? Next, what about the planing stop, Do you use it? I tend to just put a thin board against a bench dog and use a holdfast on the other end when a planing stop could be used. Just chickened out on putting a bib hole and then making a tight planing stop, so I’m thinking about taking the plunge …hey, there’s a pun. On the crochet, I’ve never had a board slip and just wondered if it’s of any use to you. Thanks.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4630 days

#14 posted 03-30-2011 06:40 AM

It’s beautiful.

Just beautiful.

Did I miss where you told us about the finish ??

GREAT job. One thing about the hand-built bench: how many days are you in the shop where you don’t use it ?

I love mine. It’s even the “prop the elbows on it and think” station.

-- -- Neil

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17825 posts in 4074 days

#15 posted 03-30-2011 03:34 PM

@Kenn – Good questions! Obviously I made the crochet and planing stop parts of the original build so I have a bias regarding their use. :-) Yeah, I use them both and wouldn’t give up either. I have a thin planing stop ‘jig’ that clamps into the leg vise, braces against the stop and runs across the bench, from from to back, to allow planing of thinner material or for more stability. It was nerve racking to chop a big hole in the top, yes, but it’s worth it.

When I clamp long boards to work their edges, the crochet makes for a natural ‘hold’ that is simply a part of the process. With smaller stock, say, a 1×3 that is three feet long, the crochet seems to make the work stable on that end while the leg vise holds the center. Anything longer than that and I clamp a block towards the top of my deadman (in a #203 clamp) to support that end.

If I had neither the crochet nor planing stop, I could probably get by fine. But it wouldn’t seem ‘right’ at this point to have such a traditional bench without them. Hope this helps, good luck!

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

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