Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

Going against the grain

Category: Workbench

Roubo Workbench Build Complete

They say that the journey is more important than the destination.  I agree.  However, it’s hard not to get excited about knocking this off of the list.

After some deliberation, I decided to finish the workbench with boiled linseed oil.  I found that the best way to apply the finish was with a squeeze bottle and a rag.  The bench will sit on an unprotected garage floor, so I don’t want it to wick up moisture.  It doesn’t feel much slicker than before and it looks pretty.

It was a long journey, but I learned a lot along the way.  The joinery on this thing is massive.  That alone was a challenge.  Milling the boards by hand taught me a lot about wood and how to use hand planes.  This was also my first time draw-boring a wood joint.  I definitely think I’ll be using this technique again in the future.

The bench is solid.  I absolutely love the Bench Crafted hardware.  I can’t wait to get started using this beast.  Thanks for everyone’s support and advice.

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

 

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Troubleshooting Holdfast Issues

After boring the first few holdfast holes, I realized that I had serious issues.  My holdfasts simply weren’t biting.  Often, they were jumping around in their holes.  I had to find a solution, and fast.

The bench top is 4-1/2 inches thick.  The holdfast holes are 3/4 inch in diameter.  I am using Gramercy holdfasts.  They are very well made, and should survive years of abuse.  I did some research and determined that the most likely cause was the thickness of the bench top.  How could I resolve this with the holes already bored?

I received some excellent advice from my friends on Twitter and decided that I would counter bore the holes from the bottom with a large diameter hole.  To center the holes, I inserted a piece of 3/4 inch dowel.  After some trial and error, I determined that the most effective nominal thickness was around 3 inches.  The holdfasts work beautifully.  The solution was quick and easy.

I need to clean up the surfaces and coat everything in boiled linseed oil.  Then, I will finally be able to start my first project on the Roubo.  Stay tuned

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

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Holdfast in action

Roubo Workbench: I Met the Devil…

…and he lives in the details.

I thought I would have completed the Roubo workbench by now.  I’m getting close, but these little tasks add up.

Roubo Workbench Shelf

The finished shelf

I did finish the shelf.  I created 1-1/4″ square ledgers and screwed them to each of my stretchers.  These are the only screws found on the entire workbench.  The shelves rest on the ledgers.  I milled up some of my remaining 2 x 12 stock to make 6 shelf boards.  With the shelf boards 4-square, I cut notches in the end boards for the legs.  Then I cut my shiplap joints and fit the boards.  I had to fine-tune the last board to get the fit I wanted.

cutting the shiplap joint

Cutting the shiplap joint with the rabbet plane

shilapped board for shelf

A finished board

I still have to bore out hold-fast holes.  Aside from that, I just need to decide if I will finish the bench or not.  What do you think?  An oil finish will prevent moisture wicking, but might increase the slickness of the top.  I’m currently leading towards BLO.

Stay tuned for the project finish.

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

 

 

Dead-men Tell No Tales

Mother’s Day was this past weekend (I hope none of you forgot), and I’m on-call this week for my day job.  As a result, I haven’t gotten as much done on the workbench as I would like.  However, I did get a few things done.  I finished shaping the vise chop, and I roughed out the sliding dead-man.

Completed Vise Chop

I cut the vise chop to shape on the band saw and then jointed the edges.  Then, I attacked the bevels with my low-angle jack plane.  The bevels on the vise chop are a little tricky without some sort of guide.  You just need to watch your lines and adjust your angle of attack when necessary.  The Bench Crafted hardware is now permanently installed, it the action is sweet.  I really prefer the classic look to the more polished glide models.

Sliding Dead-man

With the chop complete, I started working on the sliding dead-man.  I picked the best looking board left, and milled it square.  I had trouble figuring out how I could cut the bevel on the bottom of the board.  I ended up cutting it very carefully on the band saw.  Then I cleaned it up with a chisel.  This worked surprisingly well.

With the bevel cut, I marked a line on the board where it met the top.  I measured down half the distance of the groove in the top, and struck a second line.  This will be the shoulder for my rabbet.  I cut the shoulder with a backsaw, and the cheek on the band saw.  From there, it was just a matter of tweaking the length of the tenon until I could get the bottom groove on the stretcher.  Next, I’ll clean up the curves and bore some peg holes.

Roubo Workbench

The only thing I have left to do is build a shelf and bore my hold-fast holes.  I’ve already been using the bench.  In fact, I used it to mill up the dead-man.

Stay tuned…

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

A Quick Roubo Workbench Update

The Almost-Complete 2015 Roubo Workbench

The Almost-Complete 2015 Roubo Workbench

With the base attached to the top, I was able to get the Roubo workbench flipped so I could finish the details.  Despite weighing nearly 300 lbs, I managed this myself.  The saw-benches are the perfect height for this operation.  You just need to go slow, and be careful.  I’m thinking about making a quick video of the process.  I think it could be helpful for those who might want to do some updates on their heavy workbench.

I chamfered the bottoms of the legs and bored hold-fast holes in the front, right leg.  I also assembled the leg-vise and gave it a quick test.  The Bench Crafted hardware is sweet.  I can almost close the vise from full-open with a single spin of the bar.

I started flattening the top, and will post a separate article detailing the process.  Once that is complete, I need to shape the vise chop, make a sliding-deadman, build a shelf, and bore hold-fast holes.  Then, I’ll finally be able to build some furniture on the bench.

Stay tuned.

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

Roubo Workbench Build: Draw Boring the Base

I did a lot of research while designing my Roubo workbench.  There are many ways to bring everything together.  However, my favorite approach was draw boring the mortise and tenon joints.  There is no need for any glue, and the joint should stay tight for ages.  As of my last post, I didn’t think I would be able to do this, but I found a way to work my issues.

For the unaware, a draw bored joint is when you drive a peg through a mortise and tenon to pull everything together.  The tenon hole is offset slightly towards the shoulder so that the peg pulls the shoulder tight when you drive the peg through the hole.

Bore your holes, using a piece of scrap to prevent blow-out.

Bore your holes, using a piece of scrap to prevent blow-out.

First, bore holes through the mortise walls.  It helps to use a piece of strap to prevent blow out on the other side.  I bored my holes to go at least one inch through the far side of the mortise.

Reassemble the joint

Reassemble the joint

Mark your tenons

Mark your tenons

Next, reassemble the joint and mark your tenons.  I used the same brad point bit, that I used to bore through the mortise walls.

Offset the holes on your tenons by about 3/32

Offset the holes on your tenons by about 3/32

Offset your marks towards the shoulder.  I used an offset of about 3/32 of an inch.  Bore your holes in your tenons and assemble the joint.

A close up of the draw bore offset

A close up of the draw bore offset

Here, you can see the offset holes.  When you drive the pegs, they will pull everything tight.  The pegs will actually deform and act as a spring.

Tapering the pegs help them start more easily.

Tapering the pegs help them start more easily.

I tapered the ends of all of my pegs to help them follow the correct path through the joint.  I also cut all of my pegs about an inch long, so that I could cut them flush later.

Legs pegged to the top

Legs pegged to the top

I assembled the entire base and drove the legs to the top first.  I used a large dead blow hammer to drive the pegs.  I tried to line up the grain of the pegs with the grain of the top, but the pegs all spun as I drove them.  There’s not much I can do about that.  I’ll just have to live with it.

I drove the pegs for the front stretcher from the rear

I drove the pegs for the front stretcher from the rear

Due to the thickness of the front stretcher, I ended up driving the draw bore pegs from the rear.  It worked out nicely.

A close up of the drawbored joints

A close up of the drawbored joints

Workbench draw bored together.

Workbench draw bored together.

Now that the base is finally complete, I just need to work out the details.  I have to flatten the top, bore holdfast holes, and finish the vise chop and sliding deadman.   Stay tuned.

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

Roubo Build: Installing the Bench Crafted Classic Leg Vise with Criss-Cross Retro

The past weeks have been hectic, but I was finally able to get the Bench Crafted classic leg vise installed.  The installation was a little daunting, but careful layout ensured a good fit.

I started laying out the criss-cross mortises by marking where I wanted the bottom of the chop on the leg.  From there, I was able to mark out the mortise and vise screw locations.  Then, I carefully transferred my lines to the chop.  I roughed out the mortises on the drill press.  I cleaned them up with a plunge router and chisel.

With the mortises complete, I fit the retro brackets and marked the machine screw holes.  I bored out pilot holes on the drill press, and then tapped them with a 5/16-inch bottoming tap.  Everything came together nicely.

Next, I bored a counter-bore in the leg for the acetal bushing.  I finished boring the holes for the vise screw and gave everything a test fit.  Then, it was only a matter of attaching the rest of the hardware.

If I had to do it over again, I would have used a larger router bit to clean up the criss-cross mortises.  Cleaning up the bottom of the mortises in six or seven passes was time-consuming.  I still have to shape the chop, but that will be the easy part.

Next up, draw boring.  Stay tuned.

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

The Best Laid Plans…

What is it that they say about the best laid plans?

Completing the Roubo workbench base had me on a high.  That all came crashing down Sunday afternoon.  While marking out the location for the draw-bore pins, I noticed that something was a little off.  Upon closer inspection, I realized that the pins for the short stretchers would come too close to the mortise walls for the long stretchers.  This is a result of moving the tenons back on the front stretcher.  I did this so that they wouldn’t interfere with the mortise for the vise hardware.

Stretcher Mortises

The pins for the mortise on the right would come too close to the mortise walls on the left.

If only I had included the draw-bore pins in my Sketchup model.  I would have known of the issue, and been able to plan around it.  Fortunately, this isn’t a huge setback.  It just means that I will have to drop the pins for the base and glue the tenons in place.  I can still draw-bore the base to the top.

I took it all in stride.  I finished a few details while I worked out what I was going to do about the base.

Sliding Deadman Notch

Sliding Deadman Notch

I completed the notch in the front stretcher for the sliding dead-man.  I marked it out with a pencil and cut the chamfer with a block plane.  You can see how thick I made the front stretcher.  The Bench Crafted criss-cross mortise is 1 7/16″ deep, so I made the tenon 2″ back from the front of the stretcher to avoid issues.

Sliding Deadman Grove

Sliding Deadman Grove

I also cut the grove for the sliding dead-man in the bottom-side of the top.  I made quick work of this with a plunge router and fence.  A spiral up-bit kept everything clean.  It’s wise to do this in several passes.

I was also able to start milling the boards for the vise chop.  I’m using some old-growth pine boards I scored from work.  They aren’t hardwood, but they are incredibly dense.  Once I finish the chop, I can install the vise hardware.  I need to complete this before I permanently attach the base to the top.

Stay tuned.

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

Finishing up the Roubo Workbench Base

Completing this workbench has taken more time than I expected.  I believe that is a common theme of life.  Today, I hit a major milestone.  I completed the base for the Roubo workbench build.

With all the tenons cut, I just needed to chop the mortises and fit everything together.

Marking Mortise Ends

Marking Mortise Ends

I started by clamping my stretcher between two legs, using the spacers I created.  Then, I used the stretcher to transfer the mortise ends.

Setting Marking Gauge

Setting Marking Gauge

Next, I used the stretcher to set my marking gauge.  Then, I scribed the sides of my mortise on the leg.  Be careful.  Make sure that you transfer your lines to the correct face of each leg.  I used a 1-1/8 inch forstner bit to create the thickness of my tenons.  As a result, I will be able to use that same bit to bore out perfect mortises.

Scribing the mortise walls on the leg.

Scribing the mortise walls on the leg.

Don't forget to mark your waste areas.

Don’t forget to mark your waste areas.

With each of my mortises marked out, I made a makeshift table for my drill press.  I jointed the edge of some scrap to use a fence.  I carefully aligned the fence and started boring.  I started with the ends of each mortise and worked inwards.

Boring the waste with a forstner bit

Boring the waste with a forstner bit

Make over lapping passes to remove the waste in the middle

Make over lapping passes to remove the waste in the middle

With the waste removed, I used my knife lines to clean up the mortise walls.  I used my widest bench chisel for the sides, and a mortise chisel for the ends.  Once close, I started test fitting the joint.  Everything went together fairly easily, and I’m happy with the results.

Completed Roubo Workbench Base

Completed base

I’m still working on my vise chop.  I need to get it finished so that I can transfer the lines for my vise hardware from the leg.  Then I can install the hardware in the leg and draw-bore the base together.  It will be easier to install the vise before the base is permanently attached to the top.  The 2015 Roubo Workbench build is almost complete.

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

That’s a bit of a Stretch…

With  all four legs fitted to the top, I’m rounding 3rd and heading for home.  That’s a bit of a stretch.  I still have many details to work out, a vise to install, chop and sliding dead-man to complete, and the stretchers.

Fitting the Roubo Workbench Stretchers

I milled up the stretchers much the same way I completed the legs.  I am using the Bench Crafted criss-cross and their classic leg vise hardware.  The criss-cross mortise location requires an atypical front stretcher.  I made the front stretcher extra thick, so that I can move the mortise further back and keep the front of the stretcher flush with the front of the leg.

Cabinet Makers Triangle

Cabinet Makers Triangle

Before doing anything else, label the bottom of your stretchers with a cabinet makers triangle.  I always keep mine pointed in the same direction.

Clamp your stretcher to your leg

Clamp your stretcher to your leg, using an offcut as a spacer.

To locate the tenon shoulder to stretchers, I stole a little trick from Chris Schwarz.  I cut several spacers the same length as the distance between the bottom of the bench top and the top of the stretchers.  I then clamped two of the spacers to the inside of the legs and used it as a shelf for the stretcher.  I clamped the stretcher to the leg and knifed in my line.

Keep it Square

Keep it Square

Make sure that your legs are square before clamping everything up.

Knife in your shoulder line.

Knife in your shoulder line.

With the shoulder’s marked out, I carefully transferred the lines around to the sides.  I marked the cheeks and cut the cheeks on the band-saw (I cut the shoulders by hand).  With the tenons cut, I clamped them back to the legs and used them to mark the ends of the mortises that will go into the legs.  You’ll have to remove your spacer for this.

Once I’m happy with the fit of the tenons to their respective mortises, I will move on to draw-boring and vice installation.  Stay tuned.

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index