Putting the "log" back in Blog

Split-Top Roubo: Bringing Out the “Big Guns”

Posted on February 12th, by Andy Brownell in Around the shop, Projects, Tools, video. 3 comments

24" Joiner at Midwest Woodworking

Although it pains us to do so, woodworkers have to ask for a hand once in a while. One of my next projects, the Benchcrafted split-top Roubo bench is one example of that. The bench calls for about 250-300 bd/ft of materials, in this case some rock maple I had cut from a log about 2 1/2 years ago after a hurricane came through Cincinnati. (Yes that can happen from time to time).

Here is a quick :90 sec video tour of one of the machine rooms we used to mill up the maple.


Because I seasoned it myself outside on some homemade drying racks, it twisted a little more than I had hoped. Compounding the fact that rock maple is pretty darn tough stuff to work with, I loaded up my wife’s mini-van (handy in situations like this), and headed over to see Frank David at Midwest Woodworking. Frank’s building is roughly 60,000 sq/ft of super-sized machinery and of course an endless supply of domestic and exotic species of lumber. The machinery is mostly from Germany, Sweeden and a few pieces from Cincinnati. Planers and joiners all top out at a 24″ capacity, and a laser guided, power-fed rip saw was exactly what I needed to tame the twist in my boards.

Once we had 2″+ thick the pieces ripped to a very rough dimension, we surface joined one side with some effort on this behemoth of a machine. Some of the twist prevented me from getting much more than 1 1/2″ of finished thickness, but I have enough for all of the parts.

Then with everything flat on one side, we moved over to this monster planer. Even a machine of this size shows it’s frustration while taking off a 1/16″ pass on a 15″ wide board of maple.

I never could have prepared this material on my own with my puny machines. Although I had to pay $60/hr for labor, when you combine that with the original cost of the materials ($250), I think I ended up fairing pretty well. Plus I learned how important it is to have a level and flat surface when drying your own lumber. Next time I’ll get it right.

Thanks again to Frank David @ MidwestWW for helping me out on a long and cold Saturday morning.

3 thoughts on “Split-Top Roubo: Bringing Out the “Big Guns”

  1. Never would have been possible without those machines – at least not in hard maple.
    that EC rip saw is sick, same goes for that Nimitz look alike jointer.

    Looks like you have a decent pile of materials to start with – keep us posted.


  2. Yeah – I learned the same lesson air drying my own first batch of wood – from my property. A lot of twist. Next time I’ll use really heavy weights on top, or some kind of strapping – the top third or so was really bad – stuff further down faired much better. A LOT of weight seems to be the key.

    Rock Maple – cool. I wouldn’t want to flatten it by hand myself in the future though. Maybe back to Midwest Woodworking in a year or two to re-flatten 😉 Awesome!

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