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.

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FINISHED! The Split Top Hybrid Roubo

As the year comes to an end, so does my biggest woodworking accomplishment to date. It’s been seven months in the making (well five if you don’t include the two months I was gone) but I can finally say that my bench is done!  Split Top Hybrid Roubo At this point in time, I’ve decided not to use a finish on the bench. I’ve read many discussions and articles on the topic and to my own conclusion I’m leaving her al naturale. As you can see, I did decided to add the chisel holder on the side where I mis-measured.

IMG_5733It almost seems like it was all intended. Making it was quite easy. There was the set up.

IMG_5719

The layout.

IMG_5720And then cutting the dados.

IMG_5726Yes, the magnet is a bit of an overkill for just a ruler but since I had it on hand I figured I might as well use it. I attached it with two wood screws and basically fixed my mistake.

The center piece worked out better than I hoped.

IMG_5725The space between the two tops was 2-3/8″ so just shy of using three laminated pieces of 3/4″ stock. I used S4S pine from the big box store to knock this out. Only the center pieces were milled to get a snug fit. In order to get the flush fit on top I needed to notch out the space where frame was.

IMG_5721Again some simple dados.

IMG_5724

Once these two projects were knocked out it was time to attach the top to the base. For this I took off the top and measured 6″ from the sides and centered on the base and drilled through with 3/8″ auger bit. I put back on the top, marked where the hole was on the bottom of the top, removed the top, drilled that hole in the top, and reattached the top. I would have liked to sink the lag screws into the frame but I didn’t plan ahead so there was not enough clearance to drill from the bottom. They are attached with 1/2″ x 3-1/2″ lag screws but I’m gonna extend those to 4-1/2″ at a later time.

With everything done, it was time to flatten it all. Overall it wasn’t too bad but my left side was sitting a little low. IMG_5713About 20 min worth of planing produced a flat top.

IMG_5736And here’s a shot with the center piece flipped.

IMG_5737It extends 3/8″ above the surface and works great. I actually used it to finish up the chisel holder.

IMG_5730IN SUMMARY:

This bench was built entirely with hand tools. Not a single  power tool was used. Plans were modified by me from Fine Woodworking’s Hybrid Roubo Bench. Other than a couple of S4S pieces of pine, all the wood used is construction grade 2×6 from a big box store. Vise hardware for the wagon and leg vises are from Lie-Nielsen. I wish I would have documented actual build time but it took five months of weekend and after kids go to bed shop time. Thanks for looking.

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!

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!