Outdoor Workbench

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Project by tpauer posted 06-16-2013 08:10 AM 3801 views 5 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Since it is summer time, I wanted a bench to be able to work outside. I have lurked around this site and others for years drooling over other people’s workbenches, but never built a decent one myself. I had read the Schwarz book several times and decided that I would try the Roubo bench in Douglas Fir.

Of course, the local big boxes didn’t have great stuff, but I did find 2 decent 4”x8”x12 footers. Of course I had to knock those down to 6 foot myself in the parking lot. Sorry I don’t have that picture. I let those dry outside for several months and looked around for decent 4×4 legs. Luckily, Ganahl Lumber in Pasadena had kiln dried doug fir 4×4. Expensive but much better quality than HD. And they are straight and strong.

I had heard from several bloggers that Doug Fir is not easy to chop out mortises. I drilled out as much as I could. I wasn’t the greatest at staying plumb and true. My chisel work needs improvement and it took two weekends to finish 4 mortises, but they were done. Thinking back now, I could have used my oscillating multi tool to help square up the walls. I will have to try that if I get enough time to build a matching bench seat. The mortises are inch and half by three and half all the way through the top. They are set back two inches from the edge. The tenons were a joy to cut by hand. I cheated at the start with the Veritas saw guide. Glue up was not easy by myself, but the top’s weight helped a lot. I wedged the tenons and then cut them flush.

Since this bench will live outdoors all year, I researched a lot about finishes. I normally like tung oil for outdoor, but I read the FWW article that mentioned clear penetrating epoxy sealer. I didn’t want a thick glossy bar top, and this stuff is great. I soaks right into the wood. I applied two coats and then finished with spar varnish. It’s a little glitzy for a workbench, but it should hopefully handle Southern California weather. I added extra epoxy to the bottom of the legs so I can hose off the patio and not worry about.

So far it is rock solid. The top adds plenty of weight and the through tenons keep the legs firmly in place. Not sure I will build another bench for a long time, but glad I did this one. It’s also doubles as our picnic table.

Have a great summer and thanks for reading.

6 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25925 posts in 4115 days

#1 posted 06-16-2013 09:00 AM

Very well done!. Nice bench!!...............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2833 days

#2 posted 06-16-2013 10:11 AM

Nice solid looking bench….well done.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 4077 days

#3 posted 06-16-2013 01:07 PM

Great job!!

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View waho6o9's profile


8997 posts in 3586 days

#4 posted 06-16-2013 02:08 PM

Beautiful work TPauer!

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7137 posts in 4204 days

#5 posted 06-16-2013 07:05 PM

Stellar job on the work bench…... A good bench will see you through all kinds of projects, and hold it’s own at anything you throw at it….....That one looks like it can handle the pressure….....!!!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 4255 days

#6 posted 06-16-2013 07:51 PM

Great job on the bench build. Next to whip up some killer bbq with a secret ingreident from your latest shop masterpiece.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

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