Roubo Workbench Cabinet

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Project by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 07-27-2011 09:38 PM 18695 views 50 times favorited 50 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Timeframe: Mar – Jul 2011
Wood Used: Reclaimed Walnut and Century-Old Pine
Galoot Index: 9 on a 10 point scale. Hand planed all surfaces, hand-cut dovetails, traditional router (#71) work, chiseled dados throughout. RAS for ripping panels, TS to cut drawer parts
Cost: $21 for hardware (Van Dykes), $1 for material (old walnut table)

Got tired of not having my most commonly used hand tools at the bench, and the single undermounted drawer simply wasn’t cutting it anymore. My bench is a Roubo through and through, and for the first couple years of its use I kept the whole area under the bench clear of major obstructions. I did add a small side drawer, and used it ALL THE TIME to store and retrieve bench hammers, rulers, gauges and knives. It was a great addition, and the bottom shelf stayed clear of storage. As time passed I learned a few things about the way I work:

- I didn’t keep commonly used tools below the bench during a project because it was a pain. Everything put down there got covered in shavings and dust and it was no fun reaching up and down. There are wall-mounted cabinets for my tools nearby (very nearby) and I prefer reaching over stooping low.
- When I kept less-used tools there, like a Langdon mitre saw, it got filthy AND was hard to get at. I had to clean dust and debris from under the bench every week or so, and I’d rather be building than cleaning.
- I didn’t need the reserved space for clamp clearance. I don’t have deep reach clamps that require pipes or bars to extend more than a foot into / underneath the bench.

So I did a pen-and-ink drawing of something that would work. And I built the carcase to improve my dovetailing skills while trying mitered dovetails for the first time. It’s a low-profile cabinet that allows for hold down clearance, first and foremost (I use them all the time). The cabinet can be a “during-work” place for tools that isn’t so stinking low to the ground. It sits back in the space to allow clearance for the bench’s sliding deadman. And it has a Big Drawer that holds my #45 (with blade sets and spare rods) and leather chisel roll. Drawers open and close around the deadman, but of course the deadman just lifts out if access to the whole cabinet is a higher priority than supporting long work.

For more details, and I mean details, see the blog series.

EDIT – Added end vise to bench to line up with dog holes that were added to bench during this build. Read about the vise install here.

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

50 comments so far

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 4537 days

#1 posted 07-27-2011 09:46 PM

Looks Good !! Sounds like you’re not finished though !!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View MickeyGee's profile


119 posts in 4391 days

#2 posted 07-27-2011 10:08 PM

Great job – loved seeing all those hand cut dovetails.
Fantastic looking bench and the drawers look to be a useful addition.

Thanks for sharing this.

-- -- Mike

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17834 posts in 4115 days

#3 posted 07-27-2011 10:19 PM

Thanks! And oh, yeah, it’s finished!

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

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5715 days

#4 posted 07-27-2011 10:39 PM

This one belongs in a museum. When are you going to build the user? :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Bertha's profile


13635 posts in 4190 days

#5 posted 07-27-2011 10:47 PM


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

View HorizontalMike's profile


7935 posts in 4411 days

#6 posted 07-27-2011 11:11 PM

Very, very nice! I love the Walnut and all the dovetails in your shelving unit. It sure has an Old World feel to it for sure.

Suggestion: Don’t forget to add project tags “workbench” and “bench”, so that this workbench “addition” project will be easily found when searching. This really completes your original workbench quite well.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17834 posts in 4115 days

#7 posted 07-27-2011 11:12 PM

Charlie / Al: Thanks! And, The cabinet built the user, I think. Want to learn how to do lots of things? Do them. I learned mitered dovetails, panel assembly (smoothing panels w/ hand planes), carcase building, frame & panel construction, hand-cut stopped dados and finishing with BLO on this project. Probably a few other things, too. And loved every minute of it!

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

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17834 posts in 4115 days

#8 posted 07-27-2011 11:14 PM

HorizontalMike – Thanks, and Done!

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

View blackcherry's profile


3351 posts in 5320 days

#9 posted 07-27-2011 11:26 PM

Smitty the first photo belong in a woodworker calender. I bet you can just pull up a chair and stare at this with great pride. Well done and enjoy all your up and coming projects…Wilson

View RS Woodworks's profile

RS Woodworks

533 posts in 4748 days

#10 posted 07-28-2011 05:47 AM

Very very nice!! I’m working on my own roubo style bench now. See my blog., I hope it turns out as nice as yours! I’m not a pure galoot though, I like my power tools for some things…

-- I restore the finest vintage tools! If you need a nice plane, saw, marking tool or brace, please let me know!

View Don W's profile

Don W

20443 posts in 4064 days

#11 posted 07-28-2011 06:58 AM

I love Walnut, and reclaimed walnut usually has a really nice look. I really like your bench. I’m not sure I could have used the wood you did like you did. You must not be as harsh on a bench as I am. I love the leg vise too.

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

View Ken90712's profile


18123 posts in 4686 days

#12 posted 07-28-2011 11:21 AM

This is a great bench. Nice and solid and will last forever…. One of the better ones posted here, well done.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 4573 days

#13 posted 07-28-2011 03:03 PM

Yea, I am really digging this….. Functional, beautiful, and useful…... That’s a home run in my book. Thanks for sharing and the inspiration….

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17834 posts in 4115 days

#14 posted 07-28-2011 04:42 PM

All – Thanks for the great comments!

@Wilson – I’m staring at it quite a bit lately, but it will pass as soon as I get deep into the next project (whatever it is). I do have a great place to work now; filled the drawers last night and couldn’t be happier with everything about the added cabinet. It makes the bench complete, I think (agreeing w/ HorizontalMike).

@Don W – Glad you like it, nice to be done. I’m thinking you must beat your bench like a rented mule the way you talk. :-) Mine gets all kinds of use working wood, gets pounded and chiseled, cut on, etc. The cabinet addition is certainly softer wood than the oak benchtop, but it’s out of the way and should be fine. But then, whatever scars it gets is fine, too. It’s all good. The leg vise is some kind of exotic mahagony from an international shipping crate a buddy scavenged for me. Rock hard, heavier than all get out. Long may it wave!

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

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5170 days

#15 posted 07-28-2011 04:46 PM

Nice workbench cabinet.

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