I haven’t posted any content on my blog recently as I have spent some time making a new workbench for myself and this has taken some time.
This workbench is based on the Roubo style and is a split top version where the top is composed of two halves that allow for woods natural movement – Roubo was a True craftsman and many benches today are still based on his style.
The decision to make a new bench stems from a desire to create a bench that is not only practical to use but beautiful to look at with joints that would be strong but also decorative.
My trusty old workbench bench
I made a bench many years ago based on a Frank Klaus design (see below)
This was a lovely bench, again all handcrafted and it served me very well for many years but unfortunately due to a house move I had to sell it and since that day have been using Festool MFT benches to do my work with, they were okay but certainly not substantial enough to withstand the forces created during woodworking.
Research & inspiration
So I started to do some research about styles and structure and found a great article about the Roubo style in a book I had in the workshop called The Workbench Book by Scott Landis which I read with interest and further researched this style of bench using the internet
I read an article from David Barron and watched his video on the way he constructed the huge decorative leg joint found in the Roubo bench which he made look so simple, he is a master craftsman and has a real connection with what he does so this was a great help to me
I then came across a chap called Matt Estlea who had only recently completed his furniture making course that he was studying and had to complete a project as part of his final year at college so he designed and built a Roubo bench. I was absolutely amazed at what he did and thought that this was the bench I would like to make. I cannot take any credit for what I have done as I have made my bench based on Matts design
Ash & Walnut
I decided to make my bench from a mixture of two hardwoods – Ash and Walnut – so first of all I had to work out the quantity I needed and then I had to find a supplier
I chose to get my timber from a company in Yorkshire called British hardwoods and chose to have sawn boards which I could machine myself – this enabled me to choose the best boards for certain components and colour match others from the order where that was required in the project
I would highly recommend this supplier as the timber supplied to me was absolutely perfect, delivery and communication were superb and I would definitely use them again
The construction process
Once I had my timber here in the workshop I was able to take time to select each and every component from the boards, cut them to rough lengths and label each of them – wow what a huge amount of components
Once I had this done I cut each of them to rough width on the bandsaw and could then proceed with the massive task of getting them planed to size with the planer/thicknesser and wow did this produce a lot of sawdust and shavings – I had eight 100 litre bin bags full to the brim !
Once this was done I could then start getting the components glued up and for this I used cascamite glue which is a powder mixed with water in a precise ratio that produces a thick very strong glue, I added dominos in the boards for added strength and alignment in each component
Once each piece was finished I could then start on cutting the mortice and tenon joints in the base rails and legs, machining the tongue and groove boarding and cutting the leg joints for the top of the bench
When it came to putting the two huge top slabs onto the leg assembly it really started to look amazing and I could then cut and glue the final layer of the top together
I cut some walnut wedges for the tenons on the top, tapped them in place with glue and let them set
Although I enjoyed every single part of the build the most enjoyable part for me was to do the Houndstooth dovetails on the walnut Endcap and the result is very beautiful
Once everything was together and sanded well I finished the bench with two coats of Osmo polx oil
The bench hardware I used for the two vices was from a company called Benchcrafted and consisted of a wagon vice assembly and a front vice assembly with an added crisscross which helps the vice to glide smoothly – This hardware is so sexy and crafted to such high precision and it works like a dream
It was a really enjoyable process making this bench and with very careful marking out and cutting of the joints the whole thing seemed to go very smoothly and the end result is very pleasing to use and look at
I now have a bench that I am very proud of and can use it for the rest of my life – so I feel it was such a good project to make and a wise investment of both time and money 🙂