Greenaqua

Greg's Split Top Roubo Workbench

Recommended Posts

Existing bench:

A few years ago I made two benches that are 30” x 87” with tops made from 4 layers of ¾” plywood.  I also have a “sacrificial” piece of ¼” hardboard on top of that and can be replaced if necessary. The base to the bench is SYP.  One of the benches has drawers that can be accessed from either side and the other bench has a big shelf on the bottom.  These benches over the years has become less flat with about a 1/8” dip in the middle of it.  They are rock solid and heavy (guessing 350lbs) but provide little for work holding as only one of them has a basic vise installed.

 

Reasoning for new bench:

After a few years of thinking about how awesome it would be to have a somewhat traditional workbench I finally ordered the Benchcrafted Hardware and plans.  I chose this bench because I really like the concept of the "split top" and it helps that there are so many resources for help and guidance on building this project.  I also purchased the guild membership for this project as the cost seemed reasonable for the content presented and the fact that I have received so much free content from Mr. Spagnolo in the last several years that is of high quality.

 

Material selection: SOFT MAPLE

 

I was debating between SYP, Soft maple and Hard maple.  I eliminated the SYP because I didn’t have a lot of confidence in going to a big box store and finding lumber that was straight and would remain straight once in my garage.  I also don’t really like working with it because it sometimes gets a little sticky like any other pine.  I may have been able to find a better quality and drier material at a lumber supplier but at this point I already made up my mind about the SYP.  So then it was a back and forth battle in my mind between the soft and hard maple.  The price was nearly the same but I read that hard maple can be a bit more challenging to work on than soft maple and I don’t need it any more challenging than it already is.

I purchased the wood from a place here in Houston called Mason’s Mill and Lumber.  The price was reasonable, they have pallets upon pallets of wood for selection they skip plane and straighten one edge cheaply and most importantly to me was free delivery because I have a small car.  I ended up buying about 250 bd ft of 8/4 and one 12/4 board.

 

post-17115-0-00417000-1427826246_thumb.j

 

 

MILLING THE TOP – (16+ hours)

 

After about two weeks of it sitting in my garage I finally was able to get to work. 

The 1st thing I did was selected 14 boards for the top (assuming that I would need 7 for the rear, 5 for the front, 1 for the dog strip and 1 for the front laminate.

I crosscut each board down from their 120’ length down to 100” using a circular saw.

I ripped each board (referencing the ‘straight edge from the lumber provider) to 5 ¼” thick.  I picked this width because all 14 boards could be done this way and I figure if my top comes out thicker that is ok with me.  It is either that or waste wood.  I used my Festool TS75 tracksaw and a panther rip blade to do this.

post-17115-0-66353100-1427826359_thumb.j

post-17115-0-41002300-1427826360_thumb.j

post-17115-0-16434400-1427826361_thumb.j

 

I ran each board over the jointer and jointed one face.  Some boards had a little bit of twist and I tried getting rid of it the best that I could.  I noticed that face jointing these long boards over my jointer was not easy to successfully run it across and come out with a flat board.  I think they were just a bit too long…

After I jointed one face the best I could, I ran them through the planer on the other face.  Back to the jointer, I ran one edge of each board across the jointer.  I took these boards back to the planer and planed off the other edge.

Finally, I milled down the front and back sections of the top to get them to their final width.  I left each of the two sections about 1/32” thicker than the plans called out for the heck of it and it gives me a tiny bit of breathing room in case there is an issue later (which there is)

 

 

 

GLUE UP OF THE TOP AND BOTTOM FLATTENING: (3 hours)

 

I used titebond 2 and had one person help me apply the glue for each of the sections.  I used a 4” foam roller and domino’s for alignment.  Lot’s of clamps and let it sit overnight.  I did one section Saturday and one Sunday.

 

post-17115-0-47958100-1427826498_thumb.j

 

I am not sure what happened in the glue up but each sections had a similar issue where in a couple of spots the edges of the boards were stepping from one to the other (like stairs).  Each step probably was no thicker than a playing card.  I thought about running the sections across the jointer since I have an 8” and have access to a 12” but wasn’t thrilled about hauling the 12” section in my car.   There was only one reasonable option.

I dreaded this moment…pulling out my jack plane.  I bought it two years ago for my birthday and it has sat in its box ever since because I feared the worse trying to get it to work.  So, I sharpened the blade using the “scary sharp” method going to 2000 grit sand paper and a secondary bevel of 30 degrees. Put the plane back together, gave it a push across the wood and…..WOW, it was like I was a kid again and learned how to ride a bicycle.  Beautiful shavings with minimal effort and off I went.  I discovered that one or two of my boards had a slight twist before glue up and it caused this misalignment during glue up and an overall twist to the whole slab (read about my issue flattening the boards above).  I diligently worked each opposite corner with my plane and a pair of winding sticks and before I knew it my slab was fairly flat. 

 

Two recommendations:

The front winding stick was maple and the back one was walnut and gave a very nice contrast.  By accident I noticed that the plans that I taped onto the wall also made the sticks very easy to see with the white background.

I used the Festool track for my straightedge in the long direction.  I have two tracks and putting them edge to edge there is no light between them.

 

post-17115-0-59695700-1427826567_thumb.j

post-17115-0-69732500-1427826609_thumb.j

post-17115-0-26689400-1427826610_thumb.j

post-17115-0-49903700-1427826867_thumb.j

 

 

This occurred on both of my slabs but mostly on my front slab.  I did this procedure on both slabs and then ran this flat face down through my planer and came out with a nice flat top on each of them.  My current slab thickness is 4 ¾” but will probably take it down another 1/8” with one more pass on the bottom and top.

I now realize that because of that slight twist in the slabs that has been flattened, the side of my slab is no longer perpendicular to the bottom or top of the slab in these areas.  That is where I have left off and will likely go back in with the jack plane and remove some of the wood to get this thing back to perpendicular.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congratulations on startup...Thanks for sharing your issues, resolution of the issues, and recommendations. Looks like your helper is doing an exellent job keeping your shop clean.  I am looking forward to future updates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How do you like Mason's vs. Clark's?

I have been to Clark's one time but when I priced out everything Mason's was overall cheaper when accounting for S2S1E milling and had the free delivery 

Mason's pro's:

1.  Way more wood selection for typical lumber ( a ridiculous amount of wood).

2.  Free Delivery

3.  Location - I don't have to go as far in town

4.  Price has been a bit less when I have compared.

 

Clark's pro's:

1.  Easier access to the lumber.  (at mason's they have to bring it to you on a fork lift and then you go through the pallet, then to the next pallet etc)

2.  Easier access to customer service. (at mason's you have to get a fork lift driver some of which don't speak any English)  (Ask for Javier at Mason's).

3.  Better selection of unusual wood such as flitches, slabs etc.

4.  The experience -  Clarks certainly is an easier to deal with place for the hobbiest.  You can spend $2000 at Mason's and you feel like you got in their way as they move the millions of bd ft of lumber around you.

 

As an example:

The last project I did was a kitchen table out of 8/4 walnut and Clark's didn't have near enough (maybe a total of 12 boards) to pick through.  I went to Mason's and they had probably 300 boards of that thickness. 

 

So, if you need 1 or 2 boards I would pick Clark's and fit the boards into my Subaru.  If I need 10+ boards for a larger project (such as this workbench) I go to Mason's and get it delivered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been to Clark's one time but when I priced out everything Mason's was overall cheaper when accounting for S2S1E milling and had the free delivery

Mason's pro's:

1. Way more wood selection for typical lumber ( a ridiculous amount of wood).

2. Free Delivery

3. Location - I don't have to go as far in town

4. Price has been a bit less when I have compared.

Clark's pro's:

1. Easier access to the lumber. (at mason's they have to bring it to you on a fork lift and then you go through the pallet, then to the next pallet etc)

2. Easier access to customer service. (at mason's you have to get a fork lift driver some of which don't speak any English) (Ask for Javier at Mason's).

3. Better selection of unusual wood such as flitches, slabs etc.

4. The experience - Clarks certainly is an easier to deal with place for the hobbiest. You can spend $2000 at Mason's and you feel like you got in their way as they move the millions of bd ft of lumber around you.

As an example:

The last project I did was a kitchen table out of 8/4 walnut and Clark's didn't have near enough (maybe a total of 12 boards) to pick through. I went to Mason's and they had probably 300 boards of that thickness.

So, if you need 1 or 2 boards I would pick Clark's and fit the boards into my Subaru. If I need 10+ boards for a larger project (such as this workbench) I go to Mason's and get it delivered.

I live down in friendswood and Clarks is closer but I am working on a table and need about 10 boards that are atleast s2s1e or s4s. Might call masons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CROSSCUTTING SLAB (2 hours)

Last night I cut both ends of the rear slab to final width and the tail vise side of the front slab.  I did this by scribing around the slab with an exacto knife and then cutting from both sides with the Festool TS75 tracksaw.  It came out really well.

post-17115-0-84622800-1427909359_thumb.j

post-17115-0-67238800-1427909360_thumb.j

I then worked on squaring off one of the faces of the front slab and then running it through the planer to get it mostly square on all 4 sides. 
I ran into an issue with trying to get to fancy with eliminating snipe because I had already cut the end and ended up forgetting to support the slab on the outfeed side.  Bad news, big time snipe.  Good news was the sides were square.
This morning after a restless sleep, I went back and cut off the end of the slab to remove the snipe.  Luckily I left quite a bit of extra length in the slab to allow for one or two mistakes.

 

Next step is the end cap tenon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your slabs look awesome!

 

 

 

What's your plan for the front slab tenon?

 

I plan on going with the open mortise (option 1 of The Wood Whisperer Plans). 

Because my slab is a little thicker than the plans at 4 5/8" it adds a little complexity to this part for where to locate the tenon with respect to the top of the slab.

There appear to be two good options that I am looking at and would appreciate others opinions.  I am leaning towards OPTION 2 as it seems simpler.

OPTION 1

Reference the plans from the top of the slab per recommendation of Benchcrafted.  This will requre an offset tenon. The cheek at the top of bench will be 1 1/4" per plans.  The tenon will be 1 1/2" thick per plans.  The remaining cheek will be 1 7/8" (not per plans) 

There is one reasons to offset the tenon that I can think of.

1.  The 3" long screw that attaches the tail vise guide rail to the cap won't go into the mortise as much. If I had a 1 1/2" thick tenon centered that gives a cheek of 1 9/16".  The guide rail recess would need to be 1/4" + 5/8" = 7/8" from the bottom.  That gives about 11/16" of wood for this 3" screw unless I made the tenon/mortise skinnier.

The tail vise cavity would need to be deeper than the plans (4 5/8" - 1 15/16" = 2 11/16")

 

OPTION 2

The other option is to reference the plans from the bottom of the slab.  This is what CanadianHoser did with his bench perhaps he can chime in if I am off on this.

This would move the tail vise location 5/8" further down from the top. The cavity for the tail vise would be per the plans (2 1/16") and the groove for the tail vise runner would be per the plans (1/4").    

That would allow me to keep the tenon and mortise centered.  Both cheeks would be 1 1/4" per plans and tenon would be 2 1/8" (not per plans).  I may even make the tenon a bit thinner at maybe 1 3/4" so I don't have to mortise so much.

 

Really it seems like Option 2 is the way to go?  Am I missing anything that I am not thinking of that may be effected?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really don't have a recommendation regarding Option 1 or 2, but I am interested in the other Roubo builders have to say.

 

If you go with option 2, the dog block will need to be 5/8" taller.

post-17084-0-92576300-1428015383_thumb.j

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Greg - great start and it's looking nice. I'm currently in last place in Spring Roubo builds and the next week is busy so I won't be picking up any ground. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have finished the tenon and the screw cavity.  For those following, I decided to reference everything from the bottom of the slab instead of the top of the slab.  Only time will tell if I run into any issues.  I also modified the tenon size a bit because my top is a little thicker than plans at approx. 4 5/8".  I made my tenon 1 3/4" thick and 1 1/2" long.

When routing out the screw cavity I ran into a couple of the domino's that I had used for glue up of the top and have included pictures of what that looks like.

 

post-17115-0-45485000-1428335695_thumb.j

post-17115-0-06323400-1428335696_thumb.j

post-17115-0-57488200-1428335696_thumb.j

post-17115-0-92455000-1428335696_thumb.j

post-17115-0-27351700-1428335697_thumb.j

post-17115-0-57310200-1428335697_thumb.j

post-17115-0-88073300-1428335697_thumb.j

 

 

I am now on to the end cap this week.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Greg...Looking great...thanks for the pics.

 

I am now on to the end cap this week.

 

For me, the end cap & condor tails will be my biggest challenge.  I look forward to seeing yours come together.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have finished the end cap.

The mortise came out a bit tight so  I trimmed the tenon with a block plane and shoulder plane. 

I then used the template and referenced it from the bottom of the cap to mark and drill the holes for the vise.

I marked and drilled the holes for the end cap bolts.

I then put the cap back on and drilled the end cap bolt holes into the tenon and slab.  My angle came out slightly off center when checking this and tried my best to account for this when drilling the holes in the slab for the end cap nuts that benchcrafted provides.

Unfortunately I was a little off here and there so I had to elongate the holes for the end cap nuts and also elongate them in the other direction because my holes were drilled off center.  In hind sight I should have probably set up a roller stand and hauled the slab to the drill press.  It didn't matter that the holes came out over sized a bit as the fit of the end cap still came together nicely.  Still it took me a couple of hours monkeying with getting the attachment of the end cap bolts to the nuts just right.

 

post-17115-0-85694700-1428602314_thumb.j

post-17115-0-52067400-1428602315_thumb.j

 

Now things will probably slow down for me a bit as I go on to the dog hole strip.  I did manage to print a mirror image of the bench dog template so it will make it a bit easier for my left handed installation.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The bench dog strip is now complete.  Amazingly there weren't any real issues with this part.  I made the dog hole strip slightly (1/32" approx. taller than the rest of my bench and then glued it with the bottom matching the bottom of the bench.  I then went in and flushed the top with a 2" long flush trim bit to get the top flat.  I am glad I did that and will likely do the same on the dovetail laminate board next.

post-17115-0-35320300-1429634950_thumb.j

post-17115-0-04246900-1429634951_thumb.j

post-17115-0-57879900-1429634951_thumb.j

post-17115-0-06214100-1429634952_thumb.j

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking good!  Thanks for posting.

 

.......  I made the dog hole strip slightly (1/32" approx. taller than the rest of my bench and then glued it with the bottom matching the bottom of the bench.  I then went in and flushed the top with a 2" long flush trim bit to get the top flat.  I am glad I did that and will likely do the same on the dovetail laminate board next.

 

I am going to put that in my bag of tricks.  Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This weekend I worked on the laminate strip.  I followed the plans for this and it worked out fairly well.

I did have my first "accident" while I was flipping over the front section half of it went off my bench and it pivoted on the edge with the other half swinging upwards and hitting me in the upper chest and knocking me down.  I have quite the bruise and bump.  The whole thing then went crashing down onto the floor and the corner smashed up fairly well and the top edge of the slab towards the middle had about 1 1/2" long x 1/32" of splinter come off.  Luckily the corner that got smashed up is the waste part that will be cut off on the next step.  So I am left with a bruise and a little ding on my top that will hardly be visible.  If I remember, I will take pictures of the damage to the workbench for those that are interested.

For now, here are the pics of what went right:

 

post-17115-0-22072300-1430158569_thumb.j

post-17115-0-29611200-1430158570_thumb.j

post-17115-0-08308700-1430158571_thumb.j

post-17115-0-71319700-1430158571_thumb.j

 

 

 

I am now on to the tail vise installation this week. 

 

 

post-17115-0-39481100-1430159103_thumb.j

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The tail vise installation is complete.

 

A few notes to others in the process:

1.  I had to remove the barrel nut closest to the rails in order to route out the dado that the rail sits in.

2.  If you are going to "sneak up" on the fit, just do it in a small area until you get it to your line and especially on the front laminate.  If you

route out most of the front laminate for the groove then you give yourself a lot less router support when doing the follow up.

3.  Make sure the rails are flush with the laminate and bench cavity.  My one rail was about 1/100" proud and it interfered with the dog block.  I took care of this by just taking a little more out of the dog block on the bottom.

4.  I had to route out about 1/64" in the bench to allow the metal part of the dog block to ride.  I must have routed the rails a little deeper than I was supposed to.

 

See below for pictures.

post-17115-0-19827900-1430339074_thumb.j

post-17115-0-46641400-1430339075_thumb.j

post-17115-0-05675900-1430339076_thumb.j

post-17115-0-70452700-1430339076_thumb.j

post-17115-0-90182100-1430339077_thumb.j

 

And from dropping my front slab the other day on the floor I present to you the small amount of damage:  I will be able to remove the dented corner once I trim this slab to final length (which is my next step).

post-17115-0-07272500-1430339077_thumb.j

post-17115-0-59519900-1430339077_thumb.j

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.