April 1, 2013

Roubo Style Workbench - Part Five

I've made a bit more progress on the workbench over the last week and I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel on this project.

I fitted the mortise and tenon joints on the other short stretcher...

...and the joints for the long stretchers. I then pulled the legs off the benchtop and did attempted a dry fit right-side-up on the floor. I love this part of any project, it's great to see the joinery start to come together and look like the final product.

With all of the major pieces glued up it was time to move this project out of the basement and into the garage. The top was pretty heavy but Lon was nice enough to help me drag it up the stairs. We then did the first full dry fit between the base and benchtop. Thankfully everything fit. I'm excited to see this thing together right-side-up and standing on its own.

There is still a bit of work to do before this thing is ready for the final assembly. The next step was to cut the ends of the benchtop flush and to the correct length. I ended up using the circular saw and an edge guide to get things started.

The circular saw was only able to get about half way through the thickness so I then finished it off with the handsaw.

Finally I used the low angle jack plane to clean up all the saw marks and get the end nice and square to the front and the top surface. The top is too big to be able to position it to be able to plane it properly so I had to squat down and really use my arms. I was pretty wore out when I finished up both ends so please excuse my finger over the camera lens.

Another feature that needs to be added to the benchtop before assembly is the groove along the bottom front edge that will guide the sliding board jack. I clamped a level down as a guide and chucked a 1/4" bit into the router.

I routed the groove in a few passes going a bit deeper each time.

Once the rear edge was to full depth a adjusted the guide to set the front edge of the groove and routed that. The overall groove is about 5/8" wide so this left a strip in the middle. Rather than fool with the router and make more noise and dust I chopped this out with a chisel.

Below you can see the final result.

Next I shifted focus to mounting the end vise since it will be much easier now while I can still flip the benchtop over to work from the bottom. I want the inside face of the rear vise jaw to be flush with the end of the benchtop so I started by setting the vise in place and marking the outline with a knife.

I then used the router with the bit set to a depth equal to the thickness of the vises inside face.

I carefully routed out a bunch of the material inside the knife lines. 


The grooves made by the router made it easy to chop out the rest of the material with a chisel. I then cleaned up the edges along the knife lines to get a nice tight fit.

The vise ended up nice and flush.

I mounted the vise with bolts through the benchtop. I drilled oversized clearance holes from the top and then drilled the holes for the bolts through the rest of the bench.

This is a bit of a tradeoff but I'd rather have some extra holes and visible hardware on the top and not have to worry about the vise coming loose if I'd just used lag screws from the bottom.

I added a piece of oak as a vise chop. This will allow me to put the dog holes right at the front of the bench and it will also provide support for clamping wide panels to the benchtop.

At this point I was excited to try out the end vise so I started working on the dog holes. I laid them out with a dividers to set the hole to hole distance to evenly space the holes between the leg mortises. I then used the same spacing working out towards the ends. The holes ended up being about 3.5 inches apart.

I drilled the holes with the brace and auger bit and used a square to help ensure that the holes ended up somewhat close to perpendicular.

Here you can see the hole in the vise chop inline with the rest of the holes along the front. The larger holes near the end are for mounting the vise. Now I just need to pick up some 3/4" oak dowels and make some benchdogs to try this out.

I took a break from boring holes and grabbed the block plan to add a chamfer to the bottom edge of each leg. This should keep the bottom of the legs from splintering when the bench gets dragged around across the floor.

More boring... It is much easier to work on the legs before they are assembled so I started working on prepping the front left leg for the vise. Here you can see the clearance hole for the vise screw being drilled. This hole needs to be nice and square through the leg so I carefully drilled half way through from the top and then flipped the leg and finished from the bottom. This way any misalignment should be cut in half and should be hidden in the center of the hole.

I'm getting a bit better drilling with the brace as the holes met nicely in the middle.

There is still quite a few odds and ends that should be done before the bench gets assembled but the list is getting shorter. I'm hoping to have the bench put together in the next few weeks.

So far I estimate that I have about 58.75 hours into this project. Hopefully we can get this wrapped up in under 80 hours :)