Some Roubo Build Questions


TSparger
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So I purchased this Guild project over about a year ago and I'm finally getting my gears ready to start building my bench.  Due to the size of my shop I'm probably going to have to reduce the length of it some and was wondering if those of you that have built this bench already could let me know if I need to be concerned about anything if I shorten the bench to approximately 78" but keep the overhangs at the tail and leg vices the same as on the drawings.  I'm not very verse at using sketchup so don't know how to go in and make these changes to the file.

I've been reading the other threads about this build and it appears that most everyone seems to think this build is better suite with lumber that is in the general hardness scale as soft maple or higher.  Soft maple at my local supplier here in Georgia is at $4.34/bf so that would put my lumber purchase at a little over $800 which really stings.  Was seriously considering southern yellow pine, which they sell for $1.93/bf but they can't tell me if it's long leaf or short leaf yellow pine because it gets mixed together down here in the south.  There is a big difference in the hardness of these two species so now I'm shying away from the yellow pine route.  May just have to suck it up and pony up for the soft maple.  They have 8/4 and 4/4 boards that are 8' long so that should work well for the length bench I'm planning to build.  Only problem is they don't have many boards that are close to 5" wide or 10" wide like Marc suggested in the build videos so looks like I would have to plan on more waste than I was hoping for.

This will be my first build using big lumber like this with extensive glue up/laminations.  Is it a problem to just start slowly acquiring the lumber by hand selecting boards from what they have now and hand picking the rest as it becomes available.  This way it will help on the wallet and I can buy with less waste.  I wouldn't think on a project like this it would matter buying the boards from different suppliers and/or shipments of the wood to the same supplier.

Any input you experienced Roubo builders can give me would be greatly welcomed.  Thanks

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Regarding the size question be mindful of the dog holes and where they will be at in relation to the new leg placement. Regarding the lumber I ran into the same issue on widths just had to deal with it. A year later I am still using the scraps for various projects so definitely not a total waste. I personally would save up until I could make a onetime purchase not so much because of matching/color issues but more because of acclimatization of the wood. Lastly I viewed this as a onetime build and because of that went with hard maple to your point it did add up quick with the hardware. I was at about $2300 all in including a couple small tool purchases (router bits etc) and about 140 hours to build it. Given this I was willing to incur the addl cost but certainly understand why one would be cautious about that. Good luck I learned a ton and I'm sure you will as well.

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Agreed..  With a little luck, this is a once in a lifetime build.  Buying a little at a time as it's available is perfectly fine.  Take a look at the Bell Forest package as well and see if that fits your budget.

Nothing worse than building a piece and then saying to yourself "I wish I would have....."

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Being the owner of a pine roubo-ish workbench, I can say that the ONLY feature I regret using such a soft wood for is hold-fast holes. It still works great, but if you use the hold-fasts a lot, you can expect the holes to be worn out in just a couple of years. Otherwise, it was cheap and quick to build, and serves me well. But I'll need to build it again. And again. etc...

 

And I certainly wouldn't waste Benchcrafted hardware on my pine bench.

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9 hours ago, pkinneb said:

Regarding the size question be mindful of the dog holes and where they will be at in relation to the new leg placement. Regarding the lumber I ran into the same issue on widths just had to deal with it. A year later I am still using the scraps for various projects so definitely not a total waste. I personally would save up until I could make a onetime purchase not so much because of matching/color issues but more because of acclimatization of the wood. Lastly I viewed this as a onetime build and because of that went with hard maple to your point it did add up quick with the hardware. I was at about $2300 all in including a couple small tool purchases (router bits etc) and about 140 hours to build it. Given this I was willing to incur the addl cost but certainly understand why one would be cautious about that. Good luck I learned a ton and I'm sure you will as well.

After looking at the drawings it appears to me that if I change the overall bench length to 78" (9" less than plans) all I need to do is make the long stretchers for the base 32-5/8" (9" less than plan) and everything else stays the same except the dog hole strip and gap stop. That is unless I'm missing something. Thanks for all the input so far.

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If it were me, I'd adjust your plans a little bit. Your life will be easier if you shorten the bench by dropping a multiple of the dog hole spacing (4 7/8"). It will be a bit easier to make sure the spacing works around the legs, and it'll just look better. I just made a Roubo, and I dropped two dog holes from the left overhang and one from the middle section, giving me a length of 72 3/8". In your case, I'd be tempted to drop one dog hole from the left overhang and one from the middle. Your overall bench length would then be 77 1/4". 

Good luck with the build!

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For lumber choice, check prices of European Steamed Beech. That's what I bought to use for my Roubo. According to WoodDatabase, it is very similar in properties to Hard Maple. In my area, this option was cheaper than maple, but still achieve the hardness and density. 

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Please use hard maple so we don't have to do the alder thread again!

In all seriousness, I know I'll never convince some people here, but IMO pine, no matter the species, is not hard enough for a bench. As Eric said, it's about density (and by extension, weight). 

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go with what the experts say, I'm just starting mine, soft maple , I know Ill forever regret it , if I had a source for  SYP I would have jumped on it.

Would have used doug fir but here it is terrible the time and gas , drying . Too much trouble

Oh about the lumber, try to get 5 or 10" boards even if you have to wait, I got alot of scrap and could have saved alot collecting wood a littke at a time.

Mark

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1 hour ago, mskiba2 said:

 

go with what the experts say, I'm just starting mine, soft maple , I know Ill forever regret it , if I had a source for  SYP I would have jumped on it.

If you build with red maple you'll still have a harder and denser bench than if you used any of the southern yellow pines.  Longleaf is the hardest and it's still only 870.  Red maple is closer to 1,000.  But if you have silver maple, you're right...a couple of the SYP species are harder than silver maple.  Longleaf and loblolly I'm sure of.  Keep in mind that not all SYP is created equal...there are a number of sub-species, some harder than others.

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There's no ideal specie IMHO. Some people build workbenches like they would build pieces of fine furniture. Then they need a mat to work on it because they're afraid to dent their gorgeous piece. I never add finish to the top of my workbenches because I don't want a slippery surface. A workbench is made for working. Your workbench should hold dents, unwanted chisel cuts, mallet hits... But some uses cannot fit with soft woods. If you want to use some holdfasts a soft wood should be loose quickly. But if you use bench dogs, soft woods will be fine. Just think about the weight of your workbench. If it's standing in the middle of your shop, you can't secure it on a wall. So the workbench needs weight to be steady. But weight is not only about an heavy top. An underneath chest of drawers full of tools will provide the needed weight.

At the century of Roubo, and that was still the same for my grand father, workbenches was made out of row oak, which is an open wood with a lot of tannins. Not ideal for fine woodworking isn't it ? Most were dented with a lot of glue drips. However, the finest furniture ever was made on these workbenches, which mostly didn't had any vice at all ! We may consider the most important is not the workbench itself, but what you can do on it. All the rest is only literature.

My advice : make quickly your workbench out of any specie you've got on the shelf. Even if you may learn a lot during the build, the most satisfying is coming next.

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14 minutes ago, Jean [Fr] said:

 

 

 

My advice : make quickly your workbench out of any specie you've got on the shelf. Even if you may learn a lot during the build, the most satisfying is coming next.

Yes,I agree  870 , 1,000 splitting hairs

Just build it !!!!

Reminds me why aint I in the garage

Mark

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23 minutes ago, Eric. said:

All true.

On the other hand, building a bench is a rite of passage for a woodworker, and anything worth doing is worth doing right.  Just because it's a bench doesn't mean you shouldn't take pride in it and build the best bench you can build.  Using inferior lumber when something better is available for an insignificant additional expense (over the course of a lifetime) makes little sense, and IMO is false economy.

Once again we should draw a distinct line between what you can "get away with" and what is best practice.  Personally when I build something important, I go into the project with the intention of making it the best version of whatever it is that I'm capable of making it at my current skill level.  And material selection is always part of that effort.  A bench is important, not only functionally, but spiritually...because working on a half-ass bench will lock you into a half-ass mentality, and you'll produce half-ass work.  In perpetuity.

IMO

OH MY

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17 hours ago, Eric. said:

 A bench is important, not only functionally, but spiritually...because working on a half-ass bench will lock you into a half-ass mentality, and you'll produce half-ass work.  In perpetuity.

IMO

Sorry for my bad English, I may not have made myself clear. It is not because I think the specie is not crucial that I want to do a bad job. As I said, XVIIe century woodworkers surpassed anyone here, even the most respected of us. However they did not have our fancy tools and their workbenches was pretty rough. I believe no one here is pretentious enough to consider as half-ass workers people able to build this :

ACBoulle.thumb.jpg.bf6b39cde3726c1c93768a3e2cc96b0e.jpg

The most early workbench I saw was a mid XVIIIe Century's in a marine carpentry museum (Marine carpenters was considered as well as the finest woodworkers), so it was built just few years after A.C. Boulle's death. I would like to see some day a XVIIe one, but as far as I know no one survived. It was made out of second choice woods (mixed Oak, Ash and Beech !) with nuts and jointed pieces to make long boards. A steady and functional construction through, with apparently not much care about dents, glue, drills and saw cuts, even if the most finest marine cabinets was made on it.

It's up to anyone to make a workbench like a piece of art. I respect people who want a fancy/better(?) workbench. Why not ? But IMHO it's not necessary. I'm not much into rites and spirituality. To me woodworking is not a sacred act or a journey to beatitude, it's simply woodworking and I love it ! You can add extra value to your tools or your workbench, but anyways it's still some piece of equipment meant to help you making pieces or masterpieces depending of your skills. If the cut is right, no matter if it was made by a high-end pricey Festool's or by a rusty grand'pa handsaw. Please don't get me wrong : don't presuppose I don't care about fine woodworking. Believe me or not, your fluency is definitely independent of the beauty of your workbench.

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