Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

Going against the grain

Tag: roubo

Roubo Legs: Squaring End-Grain

There’s a bit of stigma when it comes to squaring end-grain.  It really isn’t all that difficult.  Just follow the same rules you do for long-grain and make sure you have a sharp plane iron.  The real trick is ensuring exact, crisp layout.

Knifing in the line

Knifing in the line

Start by knifing in your line using an accurate square.  Assuming your board is 4-square, your line will be perfectly perpendicular.  Here are some tips to ensure your layout lines meet perfectly as you move around your board:

  1. Always reference your square against your true face or true edge.
  2. Ensure that you’re holding your square securely against your stock.  I like to place my thumb in the center of the square stock and a finger on the blade.
  3. Start your knife line with two very light passes, followed by one or two heavy passes.  This will ensure that you establish your line without applying too much lateral pressure to your square.
  4. Ensure that the bevel of your knife is towards the waste side of your board.
  5. As you move from one face to another, place your knife in the previous line and slide the blade of your square up to the knife.
Increase visibility with a mechanical pencil

Increase visibility with a mechanical pencil

Create a trench using a chisel

Create a trench using a chisel

Once I’ve established my knife line, I like to go back over it with a fine mechanical pencil.  The effect is subtle, but makes the line more visible.  I then follow up by chiseling out a small grove on the waste side of my line.  This will give my saw a small groove in which to ride, and makes the cut easier.

Kerf in your line with a small back saw

Kerf in your line with a small back saw

Once, I’ve chiseled out a groove, I establish a saw kerf all the way around the stock with a fine backsaw.  This will help keep the cut square when I move to a more aggressive panel saw.  From there, I complete the cut on my sawbench with a panel saw.

Squaring the end-grain with a low-angle jack

Squaring the end-grain with a low-angle jack

With the waste removed, I start truing up the end-grain with a low-angle jack plane.  I work in from the outsides to avoid tear out.  I approach this exactly like I would long-grain.  I check everything with a square, mark the low spots, and plane the high spots.  I repeat until satisfied.  Once I’ve squared up one end, I mark the leg to final length, and repeat on the other end.

A good glue joint should break along the grain, not the glue line

A good glue joint should break along the grain, not the glue line

I like to test my offcuts for a good glue-joint.  The offcut should never break at the glue-line.

Next up, I will cut the tenons for the legs.  I will show you how to do this two different ways.

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

Roubo Build: One Stout Bench Top

One Stout Roubo Bench Top

One Stout Bench Top

Everything I’ve done for the past 6 weeks has built to this bench top completion.  It isn’t easy milling up 8 ft long sub assemblies that weigh over 50 lbs apiece.  However, the wisdom gained was worth the effort invested, and the rest of the Roubo build to should go more quickly.

I can’t believe the stability of the Roubo bench top.  There’s zero flex, even with my 190 lb frame down bearing directly over the center.  It don’t think it would have a problem with a Buick parked on top.  At nearly 200 lbs and 4 1/2 inch thick, it shouldn’t have any problems with the modest amounts of abuse it will see over its lifetime.  Overall, the build has gone smoothly, but it hasn’t been without its lessons.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to take your time. I sped through the early stages and ended up with some small gaps in the sub assemblies.  This is likely due to small amounts of snipe from the planer, which I didn’t initially notice.   I don’t expect this to affect bench top durability, but it is a constant reminder of my impatience. The seams between the sub assemblies are virtually gap-less. I will mask the gaps with some epoxy, unless anyone can give me a better solution.

Roubo Bench top clamped web

Bench top clamped web

If you attempt a build like this take your time, plan, and don’t hesitate to ask for help.  The legs are already in progress.  I have already ripped, jointed, and stickered the boards.  With any luck, I will have the blanks glued up by the end of the weekend.  Stay tuned…

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

 

The Importance of Planning

Failure to Plan

Failure to Plan

I’ve heard it said that, “failure to plan, is planning to fail”.  This is how I felt yesterday afternoon as I prepared to glue the two halves of my bench top together.  I quickly discovered that I had forgotten to purchase more paint rollers to spread the glue.  I didn’t have a sufficient alternative, so the glue-up will have to wait.  Fortunately, another warm day is right around the corner.

I didn’t let this hiccup set me back.  Instead, I started working on the legs.  I rough cut all of my boards and set them aside.  Today,  I will joint and edge and rip to width.  With any luck, I will be gluing up the blanks this weekend.   The important thing is to keep moving.

Stay tuned.

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

When Things Come Together

Roubo Benchtop Clamped Up

Roubo Benchtop Clamped Up

Sometimes you just get lucky. That’s what happened to me when I went to test fit the two halves of my bench top. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better fit.

Prior to fitting, I gave the two matting edges a quick touch up as they were each out of square by a few thousandths. Somehow I managed to get one of the 100 lb halves on to the other by myself. I lined up the edges, and then gave it a quick once over. Each edge was slightly concave, giving me about 1/64th gap in the middle. I checked for cupping along the width and found very little. Needless to say, I am both surprised and relieved.

Checking the Roubo Top for Cupping

Checking the Roubo Top for Cupping

A perfectly sprung joint

A perfectly sprung joint

Unfortunately, the weather is still too cold for the final glue-up. That will have to wait until Monday when the temperatures are supposed to rise into the low 60’s. Stay tuned.

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

Ice Delay

Iced

Iced

The weather has not been kind to the southeast.  The icy weather has cooled down shop temperatures to below 40 degrees.  Unfortunately, this is too cold to safely continue the glue-up for the Roubo benchtop.  The second half is milled up and ready to go, but will have to wait until warmer weather.  The outlook is much brighter this weekend, and I hope to have a functional bench top by the end of it.

On the flip side, I’ve had a lot of time to play around with the new camera, and video editing software.  It’s been a nice break from busting my hump on this Roubo build, but I am ready to get back to work.  Until later…

A Quick Roubo Build Update

Here’s where all of that hard work on the Roubo bench top really starts to pay off.

After milling up two of the top sections, I took a couple of passes with my No. 7 to clean up any snipe. Then I broke out the saw benches for a test fit. Everything looked pretty good. With the boards oriented for optimal appearance, there was a slight bow in one of the boards that was preventing the ends from meeting. I brought out the No. 7 and planed down the hump until I was satisfied. A second test fit revealed that one of the boards had an edge that was slightly out of square. This resulted in some cupping that would be more difficult to remove later. Back to the jointer. I was fully satisfied after the third test fit.

Roubo Slab Glue-up

Roubo Slab Glue-up

I proceeded to rehearse my glue up. I lightly tightened parallel clamp at each end of the slab and one in the middle. Then, I placed an F-clamp on the seam at each end to ensure that the boards would stay aligned. I tightened down the parallel clamps and checked for any defects. No gaps, no cupping. Everything looked great, so I proceeded with my glue-up.

Roubo Benchtop Looking Good

Roubo Benchtop Looking Good

The assembly is now out of the clamps and looking good. I suspect it weights just shy of 100 lbs. I ended up with 10 5/8th inches of width and 4 5/8th of thickness. I hope to have the other half completed by the weekend. Stay tuned!

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

Roubo Build: How to Joint Wide Edges Dead Square

Jointing the wide edges of the beams that will be used for the Roubo benchtop

Jointing the wide edges of the beams that will be used for the Roubo benchtop

Jointing wide edges can be tricky. Fortunately, I did my research. It was time consuming, but not difficult.  If I can do it, so can you.

Before you joint an edge it’s important that you establish a reference face that is flat, straight, and free of twist. I covered how I accomplished this here: Milling the large beams for the Roubo bench top

Once you’ve established a reference face, it’s important to assess the board.

  • What are the major defects?
  • Is there any significant bow along the length?
  • How out-of-square is the edge?

I don’t worry too much about minor cupping. This will be remedied, by running both sides through the planer.

Checking for straightness along the length of the beam

Checking for straightness along the length of the beam

In my case, there was some significant bowing. I measured about 1/16th of an inch in the middle of the board using a 48 inch straight edge. The edge was also significantly out of square. I chose to tackle the bow first. I removed the high-ends of the board by taking overlapping diagonal passes with my No. 7. When I was close, I started taking overlapping passes along the length of the board. Start from the outside and work your way towards the center of the board. I continued until there was less than 1/64th of error.

When jointing along the length, take overlapping passes starting from the outside

When jointing along the length, take overlapping passes starting from the outside

With the bow removed, I started working on getting the edge square to my reference face. I reassessed the board and mark the low spots with a pencil. Take a shaving from each edge, being careful to avoid your pencil marks. Then work your way inwards taking full-length shavings. Reassess the board every couple of passes. If you’re lucky, one side will be high for the entire length of the board.

Checking for squareness of the edge using the face as a reference

Checking for squareness of the edge using the face as a reference

Stop planing just before you reach your low marks

Stop planing just before you reach your low marks

In my case, the board was square for the first 6 inches on one end, high on the right side throughout the middle, and high on the right side for the last 6 inches. Here is how my routine went.

  1. Take a stopped shaving on the left side until I reach my low spot.
  2. Take another shaving on the left starting just after my low spot on the far end
  3. Take a stopped shaving on the right until I reach my low spot on the far end.
  4. Work my way towards the middle with full length shavings.
  5. Reassess the board and repeat
Mark out your edge with an arrow that points to your reference face once you achieve a square edge

Mark out your edge with an arrow that points to your reference face once you achieve a square edge

It sounds complicated, but I can assure you it’s not.  Just go slow and check your work frequently.  Don’t hesitate to ask any questions.  Feedback is welcome!

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

Roubo Build: Jointing Wide Edges Dead Square

Jointing Wide Edges by Hand

Jointing Wide Edges by Hand

Jointing wide edges can be tricky. Fortunately, I did my research. It was time consuming, but not difficult.  If I can do it, so can you.

Before you joint an edge it’s important that you establish a reference face that is flat, straight, and free of twist. I covered how I accomplished this here: Milling the large beams for the Roubo bench top

Once you’ve established a reference face, it’s important to assess the board.

  • What are the major defects?
  • Is there any significant bow along the length?
  • How out-of-square is the edge?

I don’t worry too much about minor cupping. This will be remedied, by running both sides through the planer.

Checking for Bow Along the Length

Checking for Bow Along the Length

In my case, there was some significant bowing. I measured about 1/16th of an inch in the middle of the board using a 48 inch straight edge. The edge was also significantly out of square. I chose to tackle the bow first. I removed the high-ends of the board by taking overlapping diagonal passes with my No. 7. When I was close, I started taking overlapping passes along the length of the board. Start from the outside and work your way towards the center of the board. I continued until there was less than 1/64th of error.

Take Overlapping Passes from the Outside to the Center

Take Overlapping Passes from the Outside to the Center

With the bow removed, I started working on getting the edge square to my reference face. I reassessed the board and mark the low spots with a pencil. Take a shaving from each edge, being careful to avoid your pencil marks. Then work your way inwards taking full-length shavings. Reassess the board every couple of passes. If you’re lucky, one side will be high for the entire length of the board.

Check the Edge for Square Using a Jointed Face as Reference

Check the Edge for Square Using a Jointed Face as Reference

Avoid Your Low Marks

Avoid Your Low Marks

In my case, the board was square for the first 6 inches on one end, high on the right side throughout the middle, and high on the right side for the last 6 inches. Here is how my routine went.

  1. Take a stopped shaving on the left side until I reach my low spot.
  2. Take another shaving on the left starting just after my low spot on the far end
  3. Take a stopped shaving on the right until I reach my low spot on the far end.
  4. Work my way towards the middle with full length shavings.
  5. Reassess the board and repeat
Don't Forget to Mark Your Jointed Edge

Don’t Forget to Mark Your Jointed Edge

Jointing wide edges sounds complicated, but I can assure you it’s not.  Just go slow and check your work frequently.  Don’t hesitate to ask any questions.  Feedback is welcome!

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

Crap Wood for Good Workbenches

I think that anyone interested in building a Roubo should seriously consider yellow pine. I found this post from Christ Schwarz immensely useful in selecting the very best lumber from your local Borg. Build a great bench without breaking the bank.

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

Lost Art Press

KD_woodpile_IMG_0162

A common bench-builder’s lament: “My home center stocks terrible dimensional wood. I went to every store in a 20-mile radius and didn’t find a single board.”

This blog entry is my retort to that complaint. I’ve bought dimensional stock in every region in the United States for workbenches, sawbenches or other workshop equipment. I have never walked away empty-handed. Here are my strategies.

1. 2x4s are for suckers. I buy the widest, longest stock my vehicle can carry. Not only is it clearer, as a rule, but it is cheaper per board foot. The last time I bought a 2×4, Ron Reagan was in the White House. Go for the 2x12s or 2x10s – rip out the pieces you need.

2. Know how the store stacks the wood. The front of the pile is always – always – junk. I’ve watched home center employees carefully stock the dirtiest, knottiest, splittiest…

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Roubo Design Update: What I Learned

Roubo Sketchup

The design is complete.  The bench top might be taking longer than I’d like, but at least I was able to finalize the details.  Does anyone want to donate a powered jointer?

I had a few minutes over my lunch break, and was able to finish the sliding dead-man, bang out a vise chop, add a planing stop, and locate my hold-fast holes.  It might not seem like a lot, but here is what I learned.

  1. Planning out all of the details will help you work out problems you might not see otherwise.
  2. I don’t really need bench dogs or dog holes.  A planing stop will work better for me.
  3. I often joint long boards.  A sliding dead-man will make it easy to support long boards
  4. Thinking about how I work allowed me to plan out the location of hold-fast holes before I turned my bench top into Swiss cheese

Back to work.  I hope to have a completed bench top soon.

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