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