Slowly but Surely

Although I haven’t made much progress in one specific area on the bench, the base is coming together little by little. Here’s what I’ve got since my last post. All the legs and side stretches have been milled and cut to their final length.

After laying out out the joinery, I cut the tenons on the top stretchers first.

After I cut the tenons on both ends, I drilled out the mortises with a brace and then dry fit the pieces together.

At this point you can also see I cut the tenons on the top of the legs. Next was tackling the wedged tenons. My 16″ Bad Axe Tool Works tenon saw did the job just fine!

There was a lot of necessary clean up on both the tenons and mortise but believe it or not, everything fit snug on the first fitting.

I did finish up both ends and did another dry fit with both stretches but did not take a picture before I pulled everything apart. I was extremely happy with the results. Tonight I moved on cutting the mortise for the haunched dovetailed tenon. Now by no means is this pretty, but the inside will be hidden when it’s all said and done so oh well.

The left side of the bench is almost done. I have one more dovetail tenon and the leg vise installation to wrap things up. I plan on actually posting the steps/techniques as I build the right side so stay tuned for that!

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Finishing the Front Half of the Top

If you read the last post you pretty much saw the completed top clamped. Here I’ll cover the dog holes and the top after it’s been cleaned up a little bit.

Making the dog holes was time consuming but not as bad as I had initially thought. I started out by first getting the angle of the hole with a bevel gauge.

I used all the dimensions from the plan to layout each hole.

Each piece had a dado cut out first. Once done, I tried my best to cut as deep into the face of the dog hole so I could remove as much as possible, as cleanly as possible. The rest was a matter of chipping out the remainder until all was flush with the bottom.

Now it was time to repeat those steps 8 more times. Skip ahead a bit and were back to everything being clamped up. Here it is fresh out of the clamps.

First task was getting the overhang cut flush with the rest of the bench. Then I wanted to find out how much things had shifted during the glue up. I pulled out my winding sticks and things didn’t look too bad.

I planed the top 45° both ways, transverse and then finally along the length. The end result was looking mighty fine.

Here’s a close up of the wagon vise. While it would’ve looked even better if I hadn’t messed up, I’m real happy how it turned out.

It hasn’t been flattened 100% nor has it been cut to it’s final dimensions and it won’t be until the other half is done. Probably not until it’s actually mounted on top as well. The only thing is that I don’t plan on finishing the top until the end. Time to start working on the base.

Making (most of) the Wagon Vise

The groove for the moving part of the wagon vise will ride in  is 3/4″ wide, 1/2″ deep, 1-1/8″ from the top and is 9″ long. Again I wondered if I should flatten the top before marking my lines and again I figured I’d be okay. The bench is only made of pine and if it didn’t work, at least I’d know for next time without ruining some quality wood. I measured from the line I marked that would be my final dimension on the opposite end to where to the wagon vise would start and end. I marked my lines and another set about 1/4″ extra and removed the waste.

I used a router plane and chisel to get this done. I defined an edge about 1/16″ in from all the lines of the groove with a chisel and then got the waste out using the router plane. Once I was down to depth, I switched back to a chisel and began paring until I reached my line. Definitely not the prettiest but it’ll do. By the time I got to making my third stopped groove, I was a little more efficient at getting it done.

Yes, there are only two grooves for the vise but due to my mistake, I had to cover one, and make a third. The third was actually the easiest but shouldn’t have been necessary. It was open on one end so I didn’t have to worry about a stopped end at both sides.

Here’s the before…

and now the after…

Making both the moving assembly and spacer was a matter of using the cutoff parts. I did have to make a dog hole first but I’ll cover that in my next post. So after laminating the boards I cut the required sized for the moving piece and squared each up best as possible. I does seem a little small but since I don’t intend on cranking down too much pressure, I think the size should be fine for what I need. I mean it won’t be Benchcrafted worthy but it’s good enough for my first bench.

Next on my list is making the grooves for the runners. There are two pieces for the front and back that will be set flush with the block to ride along in the grooves of the bench. Getting the waste out was a little more of a PITA than I first imagined. The end grain was a real pain to deal with. So I made a series of saw kerfs to aid in getting it all out with a chisel.

Once I got about 90% of it out, I came back with the router plane to get the bottom flush. It’s definitely not the best looking but it does what it needs to do.

When it came to the runners, I was gonna make them out of some quartersawn red oak but as I was going through my scrap bin I came across some 3/4″ square bloodwood from a past project that never got built. I just cut them to length glued them in place as is.

Once dry I used a tenon saw to cut the runners as flush with the block and then planed them down flush.

Not sure if it matters or not but I softened the corners with a chisel in hopes to give it a smoother glide. I had dry fit it in the bench by clamping the front and back of where the grooves are and realized it was too tight within the bench. I used the rabbet block plane and took some off the sides and a chisel for in between the runners. After a few more dry fits, it was time to make it final.

 

At first I had planned on buying a Scandinavian Vise Screw from Lie-Nielsen but I have another idea in mind. It’s a much cheaper route and hope it works but I won’t divulge just yet. You’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

The Planing Stop

I thought about writing one complete post on building the entire top but as I things tend to change and have to be redone, I thought it best to knock out each phase.

As I mentioned in the Split Top Hybrid Roubo post, at the time of my design change I already had four pieces laminated and five more being milled. This was perfect for continuing with the new design. Each of the newly milled piece needed either a groove, dado or dog hole cut into it that would been a royal pain/impossible to do if they were already laminated. Yes, I could have used that part of the top for the back section of the split top but I really wanted to knock out the front half first.

My first task at hand was the planing stop. First I had to cut a 2″ wide dado, 5/8″ deep in the front section of the laminated pieces.

I debated about whether or not I should flatten the surface and get everything perfectly square before the cut but in the end figured I’d be good to wait. If I was a little off in the end I could still use a chisel to fine tune things. Plus, since every board is milled to 3-1/8″, I didn’t want to take extra material from the top to flatten it before I added the remaining boards.

To accomplish this, I marked a line about 1/2″ in from the unfinished edge.This would be my reference line for the final dimensions.

From that line I made a mark at 7″ and 9″ on the top and traced them on the face and bottom and made my cuts. I added a couple of extra saw kerfs (not shown) so I wouldn’t blow out large chunks while removing the waste with a chisel.

Once I got to about 1/8″ from my line with the chisel, I finished up with a router plane. It was a little rough so I used a block rabbet plane to clean things up a little. I didn’t care if I would make the dado wider since the actual planing stop will be fitted to the hole, not the other way around.

To start the next layer, I first began by taking a board and laying it on top of the dado I just cut. I made a mark at the beginning of the planing stop on the new board and made my cut. I put it on the shooting board to square things up and then laminated it to the top. This piece shifted a little more than I expected but nothing to worry over at this point.

I used a rabbet block plane to clean and square up the ends before moving on. The plane was just the right size to fit in between the gap.

For whatever reason, here is where I made my mistake. What I should’ve done was lay the remainder of board I cut flush with the opposite side of the bench and mark where the other side of the dado was at, then cut and laminate. I would have then made the stopped groove for the wagon vise on this board… Instead I jumped the gun and without paying attention to my own plans, I made that groove one board early. Now I’m in the process of fixing it.

I have added the next board thus closing off the planing stop hole and here’s the result.

The reason the overhang is there is because of my mistake . That should have been in line with all the other boards and the next one would have looked like that but oh well. Live and learn. I probably won’t make the actual stop until the end but if I get bored maybe I’ll do it sooner. I’m thinking some purple heart I have from a while back that I have no plans for. Just something to contrast the pine.

The First Mistake…..

So after working on top this evening and getting ready to come in for the night, I make a little discovery. I made a bone head mistake (and I’m sure it won’t be the last). Some how, I mixed up my boards of which get cut and which has a stopped groove in it. So instead of my 2nd and 3rd board (from the front) being cut and the fourth having the groove like this…

I ended up with this…..

DOH!!!

When I realized my mistake, my first thought was WTF… Then I took a step back and thought about the best way to fix it. Well my plan is really quite simple, maybe too simple. I’m gonna cut the second board, re-cut my groove and laminate it where it needs to go. Yeah, it’ll create an extra joint line and maybe even a gap but you know what? It really doesn’t bother me. This is my first bench and so far I’m happy with how everything is coming out. Even with my mistake. I just hope my plan turns out to be as simple as it is in my head.

The Split Top Hybrid Roubo SketchUp

That’s right, ANOTHER modification (and I’m sure by the name some of you are thinking ABOMINATION!) But it is what it is and this is the design I’m going for. I know it seems I’m doing more time RE-designing my bench than actually building but you can thank my Kindle and Chris Schwarz (sorta).

I actually spent a good amount of time in the shop working on the top yesterday. Before my decision to mod the bench again, I was building the top in four sections. Two sections of four laminated pieces at roughly 5-1/2″ and two sections of five laminated pieces at 6-7/8″. I will actually have a post dedicated to building of the top so I’m not gonna go into detail but it’s just some background info for you. Anyhow, I had the first section of four pieces already laminated and was working on surfacing another five for glue up. I got through 4-1/2 boards before the heat finally got to me and I had to call it quits for the day. Little did I know this was probably for the best.

After I cooled off and took a shower I plopped down on the couch with my Kindle and began browsing some books. I did a search of workbenches just to see what they had and low and behold, Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use was free to borrow for Prime members (one of the greatest things about the Kindle Fire). So I figured, why not? Now this isn’t a book review but there is a lot of good information in there and I have enjoyed reading it thus far. I got about a 1/3 through the book when I decided that I wanted to re-mod my bench. There were new things I wanted to add and some I wanted to take away.

My main rational for this mod was I felt the design didn’t meet the minimal requirements (yes, his opinion but still). While I could manage to work a board’s face, edge and end, it wasn’t effective (my opinion). There is a section of the book dedicated to (again his opinion) the best work holding ways and devises for a vast array of scenarios. I took what I liked, both function and aesthetics, as well as some ideas from other benches I’ve seen, and incorporated them into the original design. And here is what I’m now calling the, wait for it….

Split Top Hybrid Roubo

This may look like any other bench but I personally haven’t seen another one that’s got as much function (and looks as BAD ASS) as this one. It’s got everything I’d want in a bench. Let’s start fro the top and work our way down.

While not the beefiest of tops, it’s 3″ thick with an overall surface of 24″ deep and just over 60″ in length. This was my main “sacrifice”. The original plans call for a 4″ thick top at 26″ x 91-1/2″. Although it would be nice to have something that big and I do have the space for such but as I don’t plan on building anything (with hand tools) that would require that size, it would just be a waste.

I much prefer the look of square bench dogs so I wanted to keep that. I think a wagon vise is more purposeful for my needs vs an end vise. Even something as fancy as a twin screw end vise I just couldn’t justify getting. I outlined the top in a tic tack toe pattern and added 3/4″ holes for holdfasts. You can see a planing stop all the way at the end of the bench that is adjustable from underneath. Lastly is the split top. The fact you can use it as a batten for cross grain planing, an extra planing stop for short stock, or as a temporary tool holder but then flip it over for a flush surface is nothing short of awesome to me. So simple! The top should handle all face work I will encounter.

The leg vise was something that I thought the original plans was missing. It had the sliding deadman but for me it needed the vise especially because I wasn’t going to use the twin screw face vise. Since the top was already flush with the legs it wasn’t hard to incorporate. The part at the end is something I picked up from the book. It’s a crochet. You wedge your board in it and clamp it down in the leg vise for edge planing. I don’t think it’s necessary but it doesn’t hurt to have. This set up should satisfy my edge and end working.

I thought it would be a good idea to include drawers on my first mod. Then I thought about it. I have a small trestle framed cabinet with 7 drawers that I can’t stand. I love the trestle frame, I hate the drawers. It just stockpiles crap and gives me a reason to hang on the the most absurd items. So away with the drawers and hello to a shelf. I’m always looking for a place to put things temporarily and a shelf works. I didn’t want it flush with the tops of the stretchers  since there’s always a possibility to more easily knocking off a tool. I also didn’t want to fully enclose it so I can easily sweep off shavings and other misc things as they accumulate.

This bench just says bad ass to me. My favorite thing about this bench? The joinery. In case you haven’t been to FineWoodworking.com and checked out the video series for the actual Hybrid Roubo Bench (which is free for non-members right now), I’ll do a quick rundown of the joinery. The base has three types of tenons. It has pegged tenons on the upper side stretchers, wedged double tenons on the lower, and a dovetailed through-tenon, with an angled haunch and wedge on the front and back. I really wish I could afford to build it out of better materials but I’ll make due with what I’ve got!

Now that I’ve got what I’m considering my final SketchUp model finished, I can continue with building the top. I’ll complete the front portion first so I can knock out all those dog holes, planing stop, and set up the wagon vise. Stay tuned for that!

The Hybridized-Hybrid Roubo Concept

While building the third leg of the bench, I had an epiphany. This is gonna be one big b***h! Of course I could tell by the plans but getting that physical conformation made me realize I may be a little in over my head. Each leg was taking in total of about 1-1/2 – 2 hours from start to finish. Working on the floor sucks by the way. Rather than convert to the dark side on my goal of building my bench with only hand tools, I’ve decided to change the bench.

At first I was gonna completely change the plans. There was another one in an old issue of Popular Woodworking that I was looking at. Not what I wanted but would do none the less. It was smaller which really is better in my case, and it had storage, which is always good to have. Except as I kept looking at it, the more I wanted to build the roubo. I’ve had my mind set on this bench for so long that I just couldn’t get myself to deviate. Soooo, I’m combining the best of both. The design and joinery of the roubo with the size and storage of the “power-tool workbench.” I’ve aptly named it The Hybridized-Hybrid Roubo.

Dimensionally, the length was taken down from 91-1/2″ to 60″ and the depth from 26″ to 24″. I couldn’t keep the beast of legs on this little guys so those are going from 5″ square to 2-3/4″ square. All other measurements were adjusted accordingly. The cabinet’s outer dimensions are 18-1/2″ x 32″.  This of course doesn’t have the dog holes or vise details but it will follow the layout of the power-tool workbench. It’ll have an end vise on the right side and holes drilled in both the face and top of the bench for versatility.

This time I’ll be starting on the bench top first…