Making a Roubo Style Workbench Part 1– revisited

I wrote this blog three years ago at Fine Woodworking.com and decided that I should bring it home to my blog. It’s in five parts but I will add a sixth part at the end to tell how the bench has held up. Enjoy!
It’s 2009 and I still haven’t made a new workbench I promised myself when I bought an Emmert patternmakers vise at an antique tool auction in Indianapolis last spring. After the auction I bought Workbenches by Chris Schwarz and was planning on building the Andre Roubo bench he built in the book. Then a couple of months ago, while attending  Woodworking in America Conference in Berea KY, I  saw Roy Underhill’s version of the Roubo bench and fell in love with it. The bench was solid as a rock with its back legs splayed out and it didn’t rack from side to side. Something my current bench is horrible with. Luckily there’s a write up of Roy’s Roubo bench in his new book The Woodwright’s Guide; Working Wood with Wedge & Edge. Because there were things that I liked in both benches, I decided to incorporate some of the features of both and design something that would fit my needs.
The two books that are instrumental for building the bench.
The design of the workbench. My Sketchup skills are still nonexistent so I have to design the old fashion way.

The bench will be eight feet long and made out of Southern Yellow Pine with my Emmert vise installed at the end. I’m going to try something that I’m not sure has ever been done before and build the legs and the stretchers out of pressure treated wood. I just like the idea of the added weight with pressure treated wood. Plus, I was able to buy 6×6’s for the legs and save some money verses buying more 2x stock and gluing them up to create a 5”x5” legs the way Chris does. I calculated how much material I need and bought (12) 2x10x8’s, (4) 2x12x8’s and (2) 6x6x8’s. The total cost was $132.00. Not bad considering I paid $150 for a piece of 8/4”x 8”x60” walnut when I built my Pennsylvania Secretary a few year ago.  The reason I didn’t make the entire bench out of pressure treated lumber is because ACQ lumber is very corrosive to metal. You need to use hot dipped galvanized or stainless steel fasteners when working with it. Since my vise is cast iron, it would end up corroding if I used ACQ pressure treated lumber for the top.

The lumber stickered and ready to dry. I need to find my moisture meter so I can see how dry the lumber is before I mill it to size.

After letting the lumber acclimate in my shop for about a week, I ripped the boards in half so that they would dry faster. My wimpy little table saw doesn’t have enough power to rip through 2x stock without binding, so I had to set the blade a little under ¾” high and make two passes, flipping the board over after the first pass. Due to the high moisture content some of the boards started to crook immediately once I took them off the table saw. Once the ripping was complete, I stickered all the boards to let them air dry for a couple of more weeks. Once dry I’ll start milling them to size.

I don’t know how this bench will turn out using pressure treated lumber but I figure I can describe some of successes and pitfalls I encounter while building it. I’ll keep you posted

My $15.00 shaving horse

I always liked the idea of having a shaving horse. A few years back I built a set of windsor dining chairs and shaved the spindles with my draw knife and spokeshaves. Back then I didn’t have a shaving horse so I ended up using my woodworking vise to get the job done. While the vise worked, I knew that using a shaving horse would be a lot more comfortable and a lot more fun. I’ve seen shaving horses for sale on different websites but the problem was that they were over $500 a piece. I knew that wasn’t going to fly so I had to make my own.

Then one day I ran across an article Brian Boggs did for Fine Woodworking. The shaving horse he made was simple and straight forward to make. Right then I knew I had my plans. The one problem that I saw was that he used 2″ thick material to make his. I wasn’t about to splurge big money on 2″ thick ash or maple so I decided to make mine out of good ole southern yellow pine.

I went to Lowes and picked out two pieces of 2x10x8’s that were as clean as possible without any knots. Total cost was $14.73. While Fine Woodworking showed “plans” for the horse, they weren’t exactly what one would call plans. They didn’t go into great detail about how to actually build the horse and a lot of detailed measurements weren’t even given. So I just eyeballed where I thought edges should be and built the horse as close as possible to Brian’s.

Building the horse wasn’t complicated at all and it only took me a weekend to make. I milled the body out, shaped the back legs and made an extra long front leg. The nice thing about using a 2×10 is that you can cut both back legs out of one piece that’s 21″long. Once the back legs were installed, I leveled them with a compass and shaped the feet so they would sit flat on the floor. Then I took the front leg and leveled the horse, marked where the top of the leg ends and trimmed it flushed.

The only caveat of using 1 1/2″ stock as opposed to full 2″ stock is that the head becomes narrower. Brian’s bench head is 5 1/2″ wide due to the fact that he had three 2″ wide boards glued together. My bench head could only be 4 1/4″ wide due to three 1 1/2″ pieces glued together. Fortunately I don’t think that’s a big concern due to the fact that mostly what I’ll be shaving are spindles.

The one thing I did differently from the plan was that Brian used a bicycle tire tube to act as a spring for the key. I didn’t have an old tube lying around and didn’t feel like buying a new one so I ended up using a big fat rubber band instead. While it works, I’m sure the tire tube would work much better since it would have more spring to it.

I also just shaped the seat using a chair shave and spoke shave then sanded it smooth with a random orbital sander. Brian wrapped his with leather which gives his horse a real nice look. I did however glue a piece of leather onto one side of the hold down bar so that the horse would grip the stock better.

All in all I”m very happy the way the horse turned out and I can even take it apart for storage or to travel with. Now I just need to find me some fresh cut logs to make a chair.