Roubo workbench build dilemma

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Forum topic by HT1591 posted 02-26-2018 01:30 AM 540 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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17 posts in 1235 days

02-26-2018 01:30 AM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench lumber roubo wood selection

Hey guys I have been dreaming about building a serious workbench for close to 2 years now Last week I finally had the funds and headed out to my lumber yard to se what I could find. What I wanted where the thickest and widest boards possible to make up the top and I found a lot of good stuff . Firstly I found a sapelle mahogany slab 15.5 inches wide 4 inches thick and 6 feet long (witch is my intended finished length ). I also found a padouk slab that is nearly 30 years old that is 3 and 1/4 thick by 11 inches wide and 11 feet long. Here’s my dilemma …... I originally wanted to build a split top and have my final width of the top be between 26 and 28 inches wide however I want some consistency if I’m using different species of wood for the top. I’m not sure if I should rip the mahogany slab in half and mill it down to the same thickness as the padouk witch will end up probably being 3 inches thick after all the milling or would it be a shame to rip such a massive slab down What’s the rule of thumb here Do I go with 4 inch thickness and ditch the split top idea with the hopes of it being way more stable being that it’s core witch is more than half the width is one solid piece If I go this route lll have to go back and by some more 20/4 maple (when they get more in ) or is a 3 inch thick split top made up of a nice consistent pattern of sapelle padouk and maple beefy and sturdy enough for the “bench of my dreams “ (witch I only want to build once for the rest of my life ) another advantage of going this route is I can mill everything my self and bring everything down to the same thickness without haveing to glue up the faces to the edge of that slab Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!

1 reply so far

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1243 posts in 2763 days

#1 posted 02-26-2018 03:53 AM

THat is beautiful wood. I am not sure I have ever seen one built with a solid slab. Most people glue boards together to laminate them, with the edge grain ending up the work surface. So your slab that is 4” thick you would cut to say 4×4 strips, rotate them 90 degrees then glue them side by side. That way you end up with a 4” thick bench, but the grain is oriented such that it won’t want to warp out of flat as fast or as often.

If you do that with your slabs, you would have the ability to make the whole bench the same thickness. Your padauk slab would be cut in to pieces 4” x 3”. The laminated strips would be narrower than the mahogany strips, but I think it would still look fine.

I know though that you paid much money for slabs that thick and wide, so you may be reluctant to cut them. I may also just be unaware that people build benches out of solid slabs like that, so you could be fine. If you keep the slabs together, you could make up the difference in thickness of the two slabs with the legs alone. The legs under the thinner slab would be longer by the difference in thickness of the two slabs. And your stretchers between the legs under the top could be stepped to fit as well. Then you get the split top like you want and still retain the functionality.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

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