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.

Save

Save

Advertisements

Assembling the Base

Out of all the joinery for the bench, I think this wedged through dovetail mortise and tenon was the most nerve racking. Considering I haven’t been doing the hand tool thing for too long, successfully assembling this joint would a big accomplishment for me. Although it may not seem like it, the layout was a bit tricky to read off the plans and to make it more complicated I had to modify them to fit my dimensions. Looking at it now it doesn’t see like it should have been but I guess it was the intimidation factor for me.

Here’s the inside..

And the outside layout.

The “x” marked areas serve as straight through mortise. Now I’m not sure how most do their through mortises by hand but I found it easier to drill my holes out about 1/2ish the way through

And then (mostly) clean it all up

Before flipping it over and drilling out the rest.

Once the through mortise is all complete…

It’s time to work on the angled portion of the mortise. To do this I first established a kerf that is angled down to the marked line up to the edge on the opposite side.

And slowly work back until the kerf line is gone.

Next was tackling the inset portion. To make things a little easier I made a series of kerfs with my little pull saw. It’s a lot easier to pull away from the wall while sawing then push against it. From there is was a matter of carefully chipping out the waste until I was about 1/8″ away from my line.

After I get the last bit out of the corner I take it all down to my scribe line and clean things up as best as possible.

Yes, I know she’s not a looker but she gets the job done. Also considering I’m using such a soft construction grade pine, I do have to say that it did turn out well, IMO.

Next of course comes the tenon portion. For this I must admit I somewhat cheated. The total thickness for the stretchers are 2″. As you know, 2 x 6 dimensioned lumber is 1-1/2 x 5-1/2 and when I mill things up I usually get about 1-1/4″ to 1-3/8″ depending on the board. I didn’t want to put two of these pieces together and end up with 2-1/2″ to 2-3/4″ to have to thickness down to 2″. So I just bought some S4S boards from the big box store when I went back to get a couple more 2 x 6’s.

Layout for the mortise was much simpler. I’d love to show you but I was on a roll in the shop. Once I dry fit the first one and saw how great it fit I didn’t stop for pictures. Cutting out the tenons was  a much simpler task. It was just three cuts. The first cut was for the 1″ shoulder, then I went down the board and cut the cheek. Lastly was the angled haunched portion. Here is the end result.

After I cleaned things up and fit each joint individually, I assembled the whole base.

As you can see I  also fit the top at this point. I must say, I do love it. Although I knew the dimensions when I began building, it is a little smaller than I thought. By no means is that an issue, I still think it’s the perfect size for me and my projects. I just have to remember that the zoom function in SketchUp doesn’t mean larger in real life.

I’ve also already added the leg vise hardware and will write a post about that when that portion is all complete. I even made a couple of bench dogs and although she’s not complete, she is 100% useable. All that’s left with the base is adding the shelf, making the wedges and do a final clean up of all the joints and edges before setting her in place.

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!