The Split-Top Roubo Update + SketchUp File

It’s been almost four years since I’ve completed my workbench and I thought it was about time to take a look back and see how things have held up. Since then one of the questions I’ve been asked a few has to do with the SketchUp model I created/modified from the FineWoodworking download. I used their file as a starting point for angles in the joinery but otherwise I created the file from the ground up and I don’t feel like I’m violating any particular copyright issues so here is a link for my file. Please let me know if there are any issues with the link.

Split Top Roubo

This post isn’t really going to be heavy in detail but I wanted to cover a few things and answer a few questions from comments I’ve failed to answer (probably because it’s been two years since my last post). First things first, I abuse my bench. It was never meant to stay pretty which is why it was built from construction grade lumber.

Split Top Roubo Update 01

Before I move on I should mention that I am now in Yuma, AZ and the bench was built in Jacksonville, NC which has caused a good amount wood movement due to the drastic change in climate. Overall the bench has been solid over the past 3+ years. I was specifically asked about how the wedged tenons have held up so here they are.

Split Top Roubo Update 02

I think I may have flushed them up once while still in NC but don’t quote me on that. One of the good things about the dovetailed tenon stretcher or whatever they called it was the wedge that provided the ability to not only easily break down the bench but tighten things up due to moisture loss/gain.

Split Top Roubo Update 03

Yeah, they’re seated pretty deep right now but holding firmly. I’ve had a couple of changes to the bench over the years. First, the sliding deadman broke so I removed all traces of it to include the bottom guide (no direct photo). I also stopped using pins (an allen key) in the leg vise. Currently I just use a boards close the same thickness of whatever is in the vise and clamp down.

Split Top Roubo Update 04

I also removed the tail vise.

Split Top Roubo Update 06

You can see on the left side I drilled the lag bolts way to close to the edge and basically it was starting to fail. Right now I’m just using the planing stop when milling my boards. If/when I build my next bench I’m not 100% sure I would add it again.

As I mentioned above this bench has had a good amount of movement and it is definitely noticeable on the the benchtop.

Split Top Roubo Update 05

This use to be nice and flush but oh well. I’ve flatted the side with the planing stop just once over the years but it can use another go. Honestly I want to just build another bench and re-purpose this one somewhere else in the shop.

My biggest gripe with this bench is the weight. It doesn’t weigh nearly enough and will occasionally move while planing tough woods. The fact that this bad boy has lasted almost four years and honestly is still going strong makes me happy. Still doesn’t change the fact that it may be time for a new one.

If there is anything in particular that you may want to know just leave a comment below.



I Can’t be the Only One

A couple of nights ago I was out in the shop going about my normal business when a thought occurred to me. I’ve been working wood for the better part of four years now and I still suck at sharpening. Let me rephrase that; I made myself suck at sharpening.


I know that it takes a sharp edge to make a cutting tool effectively work. I know this. Yet time and time again I will push my blades beyond dull and make myself work harder. Why? Because I don’t want to take apart my tool, lug it across the room and spend what little time I have in the shop doing something that frustrates me more than when someone says fustrates.

My evolution through sharpening started with the scary sharp method and progressed through water stones and then ceramic (sort of). I loved the scary sharp method but I felt like I was always buying sheets and wanted something a little more lasting. Since my highest grit was 2000 I opted for the 4000/8000 Norton water stone. Here is where I went wrong. I used my stone without making sure it was flat. Yes, rookie mistake but at the time I was (and still am but just a little bit less now) a rookie.

I let it soak, sharpen via scary sharp and took it to the stone. Meh… I felt the sandpaper did a better job. I didn’t toss it in the drawer for the next year and a half just yet but it’s fate was already sealed and I felt that $80 went down the drain.

Later in life I saw some ceramic stones on TFWW that were on clearance. I purchased the 220 and 400 grits so I could regrind the primary bevels on some blades. It was around this time that I brought back out my Norton for a second chance at life. I hadn’t reground any bevels yet but I did start using my Norton more often as I let my sandpaper supply run out. Still hadn’t done any maintenance to the stone yet either and was still getting sub par results. Go figure right?

It was about a month ago that I finally decided enough was enough. My blades seemed to be getting dull faster no matter how much time I spent sharping. I had to get a better set up but I didn’t want to spend any more money on equipment. I let the gears in my head turn and when I smelled smoke I knew what to do. I stuck a piece of 220 grit to my granite plate and took my stones to town. Yes, it would seem it was that easy. I went to what I thought was enough which was until it seemed I rubbed all the grit off but when I took a blade to it I saw there was still a hollow in the center. Curse you Perry the Platypus.

My great epiphany came the other night. I should use my 220 grit ceramic stone as a flattening stone! This time I made sure to flatten it before I took anything across the surface. After about a minute or two on the Norton, it would seem all was well. I took a blade across the stones and after a few dozen strokes… no burr? What the??

In my quest of laziness I created a hump on my blades from the hollow of the stone. Even though I thought I used my stone evenly, that was not the case. Remember my original purpose of the ceramic stones? Time to regrind some primary bevels! I want to keep the 220 for flattening so after making sure the 400 was good I took a few blades I noticed needing the attention and brought them back flat.

Lesson learned boys and girls. Sometimes it seems to be in our nature to make things more difficult on ourselves for no apparent reason. Sometimes it’s ignorance, sometimes refusal to listen to logic or even turning an eye to something that is staring you in the face. I don’t enjoy working harder that I have to but sometime it sure looks like I do. Surely I can’t be the only one though?

What Have You Been Up to in the Last 4 Months?

Me? Not too much. I’ve been around but not active here at all. No particular reason even though I have been staying busy working on a couple of projects since the tool chest but nothing big. Nothing to write about.

Even though I have this blog I’m not good at writing just to write. I don’t make new year resolutions and I know due to the timing this is going to sound like one but I really want to get on here more often. Not only to write about projects I’m working on but just to write.

So what has really happened here in the past four months? Well in a personal and career aspect I have job security for the next four years so that’s always a good thing. Back in September (around the time I last wrote) the Staff Sergeant selection board had adjourned and the promotion message was released. Low and behold I was number 968. The first couple of months of promotions were slow but I got to kick my new year off with a bang. January 1st was my promotion date but as it was a holiday I had to wait until the 3rd to pin on. warrantFirst new year project will be making a nice new frame and I’ll have plenty of time to do so in the next month since I’m pretty much taking all of January off from work. I do have a few other projects lined up as well including finally getting started on the “shadow chest” I designed while at WTI last year. I think I’m going to go more in the direction of fancy footlocker so I have to do a few mods to the design but I did buy about 25 bdft or so of poplar to a month or two ago to begin so what better time than now.


Indentity Crisis!

For quite some time I’ve been going over the idea of completely changing my blog. Not only the theme but the title/domain as well. I was never really happy with “Project Severed Cords” but it sounded good at the time. As you may tell, I finally made the plunge.

Although I’ve never been a dedicated blogger I’ve neglected this blog for the past couple of months quite more than I should have. I have completed a few personal projects since my last post but nothing documented. I think that part of my reason was how I originally wanted to handle this blog. Since that’s all in the past now it really doesn’t matter how that was.

So what’s new? Well besides the name, nothing really. I do plan to blog more often and cover more than just projects I’m working on. While I don’t feel my opinions or techniques matter much, my new title shows where I stand on that. I work some wood, I write about it and whether or not anyone reads this doesn’t change the fact that I’m gonna do it all over again.

I hope to keep up on this blog more so than I have in the past and hope at least one person can gain a little something from my inevitable mistakes to be made.

Happy Birthday, Marines!

I know this is a little late in the day but I want to wish all Marines, past and present, a Happy 237th Birthday! May we continue to prove we are the best by doing more with less and policing the whole damn world each and every day!

Handworks 2013

Although I’ve only been woodworking a few years, WIA never really interested me. Not to say that I wouldn’t attend if given the opportunity but still. Since I’ve never been to any woodworking convention, it does hold that bit of intrigue over me. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m stuck in Yuma, AZ during both events, I maybe would have tried to go to the one in Cincinnati. Be it as it is, I’m not going to any woodworking conventions this year.

Next year is a different story. Lost Art Press posted some information about Handworks 2013 on their blog earlier this month. It sounds like something right up my alley. So much so that I’ve already registered and got my trip all planned and paid for. Basically it turns out to be an early Father’s Day gift since it’s about 3 weeks beforehand.

Anyone else planing on going?

New Toys I Can’t Play With… Yet

Just because I’m 2430 miles from home doesn’t mean I’ve stayed away from woodworking. I came across some extra cash when I sold my truck before leaving for Yuma so I’ve spent some time scouring the internet for some tools. I wasn’t sure want I wanted at first, some thing new or used. I thought about some new planes or upgrading my saw sharpening gear among other things but I’ve also had my eyes out for some specific used items.

My first purchase was a set of Russell Jennings auger bits. My first set of bits were awful but I didn’t mind. I won a bid on eBay for two braces and some misc auger bits. Out of all of maybe 15 bits, only 3 were salvageable. The rest were either bent, the spurs were completely worn down, or the threads on the tip were ruined. I decided to spend the money on a nice restored set and hopefully they are as good as they look.

My next buy wasn’t intended at all. Actually I blame Mark Harrell of Bad Axe Tool Works. I have now acquired a nice little collection of his saws. If you follow his Facebook page you’ll know that he had a deal on guaranteed delivery by Christmas if an order was placed before the end of Sept. He was also raising the price of his saws $30 across the board and gave a couple weeks notice for those looking to buy before the increase. Luckily for me, it just so happened that he had a giveaway when he was just below 700 “likes”. He stated that those who help him reach 700 would get 10% off a saw for them and those who referred them. That’s when having a wife has helped in a woodworking way. We each got 10% off and the time seemed right to make my deposit. I ordered a 10″ dovetail and 10″ carcase saw to add to my collection which includes a 16″ tenon, 14″ sash and 12″ hybrid dovetail saw. Plus I couldn’t pass on his bronze backing and apple handles! I’ll be posting pictures when I get them!

Lastly was my biggest purchase. I’ve been looking into getting some hollows and rounds. If you’ve looked into new pairs from places such as M.S Bickford or Old Street Tool you know they are running almost $500! Half sets will set you back around $3500! While I would love a new pair (or better yet a Starter Set), the Marine Corps doesn’t pay me enough to drop that kind of money on new hollows and rounds. I started looking for used sets on eBay with no luck. I wasn’t looking for single pairs but sets. I can’t get myself to spend $500 on a single pair but I will on a half set even though I may not use them all at first or ever. The one half set I was willing to buy I did bid on but lost. It ended up selling for about $850. I turned my attention to another website that I came across a while back, Jim Bode Tools. This is actually the full website of one of the eBay stores I always end up on, 2lshark. One lucky day I found what I was looking for. A matching half set of hollows and rounds in great condition. Again, this is only verified by picture right now and I haven’t seen them in person yet but just look!

I have all these great toys at home and waiting for me. The saws may even be ready around that time. November 2nd can’t come soon enough!

Test Joinery

Over the past two weeks the majority of my woodworking has been at work. Days have been long lately so bedtime has been happening earlier and getting out in the shop just hasn’t been too appealing. I’ve been using my lunch time and was able to finish milling all four legs and the four side stretchers. Yesterday I finally got into the shop and went ahead and made a test piece of the joinery on some extra pieces.

It’s my first time with through mortise and tenon joinery and also at such a large scale. I’m really happy how it turned out. Right now I’m cutting all the legs and stretchers to their final dimensions and squaring up the ends. Hopefully by next weekend I’ll be doing some assembly!

My brand new $20 “scrub” plane

Back before I even thought about getting into hand tools, I still would go on sites like Lie-Nielsen and drool over all the shiny tools they had dreaming one day I would own ALL of them. At this point in time I am no where close to that dream but I have started building my collection. One tool that was never on my must have list was a scrub plane, mainly due to the fact that I never really understood it. It wasn’t until my saw bench that I realized that if I was going to do the hand tools thing, a scrub plane is a necessity. Continue reading “My brand new $20 “scrub” plane”

Returning from a hiatus

Right before my daughter was born, I decided to take a break from the shop. I anticipated that it would only last about a month and I would get back in there but that’s definitely not how it worked out. My daughter was born on Nov 9th and although I’ve been in and out of the shop, I’m barley getting back in there on a regular basis and there is actually a lot that I’ve been able to accomplish. I tested my hand in saw sharpening, made a “scrub” plane out of brand new No. 5 for only $20, made my first M&T and FINALLY made my first 100% hand tool project. I’m horrible at documenting while I work but I think I have enough to write a little post about each. Oh, and I got a couple of new tools (and some on the way) that I will be talking about. Stay tuned!