Split-Top Roubo: Tweaked From the Start
I knew right away that I would be making some tweaks to the overall plans from Benchcrafted’s split-top Roubo workbench. My 350 sq/ft shop simply can’t accommodate the full sized bench at 87″, that is unless I want to smash my elbow when planing wood on it. Because of this space limitation, I’m going to do the “baby” Roubo that is ~72″.
This is fortunate because the top laminate pieces (from a locally-harvested log i dried over the last three years) were really twisted and it took some work with Frank David of MidWest Woodworking to get that out of the big pieces. Working with the shorter pieces should help the lamination process a few weeks from now. The pieces are also thinner than the recommended 8/4 in the plans. This will probably require an additional trip to get the final width I’ll need for each of the top elements. Thinner pieces also require me to work with thinner legs by about 1/2″, but I don’t foresee that being an issue since the whole thing is smaller than the original plan.
After milling up and cutting the leg and rail pieces for the base, I glued up the first of the four legs. Their mass is hard to ignore and it took a bunch of clamps to get the first one knocked out. I figure one every night this week and I should be in good shape to start the rough assembly of the base by next weekend. I’m going to keep the base the same dimensions as the original so I have plenty of space below, including the sliding deadman. I know I can shorten the overhang somewhat on both ends, with a few modifications to allow for the leg and tail vise. Jeff Miller built a version of the baby Roubo with a few modifications and still got the hardware to work from Benchcrafted.
I can tell this is going to be a long build process, with lots of fussing and the requisite “tarting-up” (as Chris Schwarz coined it) of the design with some details like a leg vise and sliding deadman made from Niangon to match my Benchcrafted Moxon vise. Always nice to find a use for some left-over materials from previous projects, especially when you don’t have enough maple.
I saw that Mark Spagnoulo made a nice design tweak to his leg vise that reminded me of some of the transitions found in Art-Deco architecture. If anyone is doing the Roubo build I’d be interested in hearing about any tweaks you’ve made to the design along the way.