Faux-Roubo bench build - quick question

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

steve355

Established Member
Joined
5 Oct 2020
Messages
518
Reaction score
537
Location
Herts
Hi

Quick question …. My current workbench isn’t really a woodwork bench, so I’m thinking of building a new quick-and-dirty bench using Wickes comstructiom timber, with a bench top that’s thick enough for holdfasts, vise moved to the left end, tail vise on the right end etc. of course I’d like to do it with better timber but frankly I can’t afford it right now.

i only have 2 sash clamps. For the bench top I’m thinking of using 2400x125x45 and gluing them together with the short side up, giving a 125mm thick bench top, using a few screws to hold them in place. I’d leave gaps for mortises for the legs.

What if I didn’t use glue? To make it more modifiable in the future if necessary.

My question before I head to Wickes - is this a crazy thing to do - Will it all warp and split as the weather changes or will it probably be ok?

Thanks
Steve
 
Hi

Quick question …. My current workbench isn’t really a woodwork bench, so I’m thinking of building a new quick-and-dirty bench using Wickes comstructiom timber, with a bench top that’s thick enough for holdfasts, vise moved to the left end, tail vise on the right end etc. of course I’d like to do it with better timber but frankly I can’t afford it right now.

i only have 2 sash clamps. For the bench top I’m thinking of using 2400x125x45 and gluing them together with the short side up, giving a 125mm thick bench top, using a few screws to hold them in place. I’d leave gaps for mortises for the legs.

What if I didn’t use glue? To make it more modifiable in the future if necessary.

My question before I head to Wickes - is this a crazy thing to do - Will it all warp and split as the weather changes or will it probably be ok?

Thanks
Steve
That's alot of timber and Wickes timber might be eased edge so you would be removing 6mm to get it flat.

I would think 100mm par would do.
 
That's alot of timber and Wickes timber might be eased edge so you would be removing 6mm to get it flat.

I would think 100mm par would do.

no, it’s square edge and half the price of their PAR timber. If I use their PAR timber I may as well do it in beech from Chiltern timber. I’ve had a couple of lengths of it to prototype the tail vise section, it is straight and relatively clean.
 
Do you mean not gluing each of the 125x45 together?

If you have a biscuit jointer you could put a few biscuits in, that should keep them in line.

Instead of screws maybe you could drill some holes through each piece then slide some some threaded bar through the full width of the top and use that to hold it all together?
 
I do have a biscuit jointer somewhere. My current bench was biscuit jointed together by the maker and across time the joints came apart and gaps appeared between the boards through expansion lengthways. But yes, I have one and that’s what they are for.

I actually started out with the threaded bar idea but drilling accurate enough holes through 10 45mm planks and threading the rods through doesn’t sound easy. But perhaps a couple of threaded bars plus glue is the soluition.
 
If i understand the question, you want to make a thick worktop from 125mmx45mm timber, and are proposing to not use any glue and just screw each piece of timber to the one next to it. The reason you want to do this is so that you can unscrew it at a later date if you want to modify the bench.

If my understanding is correct, then yes you could do this but the risk is the pieces in the bench top move differently to each other and you end up with high spots and low spots on your bench top. How much they will move is a guessing game but some movement will occur and you will not have a smooth top at all times. Whether the amount of movement is a problem only you can judge when it occurs.

You can use screws and glue, with the screws providing the clamping force. But if you want to do more than one board at a time you will end up with screws inside the bench top. Up to you if you care about that.

With a biscuit jointer and rods, use biscuits for the alignment and a 10mm rod through 12mm holes to pull it all together. If you exclude the glue you can dissassemble and reassemble as you like. You'll still get some movement but if you only use buscits towards the top edge of each board then the movement will mainly occur on the lower face so would not impact you as much.
 
Sounds a bit like what I did but I read a few bits about making a bench build as easy as possible. 125mm seems like a waste of wood as 100mm thick is more than enough. In fact mine is only a bit over 70mm pine. By the way pine is good enough for a bench top and you dont need to look for anything better. Those really thick tops actually make it harder for the holdfasts to grip. As the others have said glue is a much better option. If clamps are a problem consider a split top. Both top sections a tad less than 300mm wide then you can make up the clamp numbers with F clamps. At that width then the top sections can also be ran through a thicknesser after the glue has dried. As its a faux roubo save some more work and skip morticing the legs into the top. Use steel brackets. That way the top comes off for transport. If you make the leg assembly knockdown too its a great help if you have to move it. I can get mine in the back of the car.
P1010001.JPGP1010001.JPGP1010008.JPG
A lot of things need to be considered in a bench build as its likely the largest thing a lot of woodworkers build. The main thing being what is achievable. One build on another forum the guy had to rig up a boat winch just to lift the top on and off. You have to look at things like do I have the tooling and so on. Will I need help lifting sections of it. Pick something you can manage with what you have to work with.
Regards
John
 
Sounds a bit like what I did but I read a few bits about making a bench build as easy as possible. 125mm seems like a waste of wood as 100mm thick is more than enough. In fact mine is only a bit over 70mm pine. By the way pine is good enough for a bench top and you dont need to look for anything better. Those really thick tops actually make it harder for the holdfasts to grip. As the others have said glue is a much better option. If clamps are a problem consider a split top. Both top sections a tad less than 300mm wide then you can make up the clamp numbers with F clamps. At that width then the top sections can also be ran through a thicknesser after the glue has dried. As its a faux roubo save some more work and skip morticing the legs into the top. Use steel brackets. That way the top comes off for transport. If you make the leg assembly knockdown too its a great help if you have to move it. I can get mine in the back of the car.

A lot of things need to be considered in a bench build as its likely the largest thing a lot of woodworkers build. The main thing being what is achievable. One build on another forum the guy had to rig up a boat winch just to lift the top on and off. You have to look at things like do I have the tooling and so on. Will I need help lifting sections of it. Pick something you can manage with what you have to work with.
Regards
John
Hi John

Yes indeed I do have concerns about the weight of the thing I’m trying to build, and the effectiveness of holdfasts in such thick wood. I actually started with 95mm wood, but the problem is the tail vise. I bought a Veritas (apparently) tail vise, seemed good at £85 I think, which I discovered afterwards is virtually uninstallable without an insanely thick bench. Last weekend I prototyped the way I’d attach it, and after quite a bit of welding I managed to make a bracket for it. But it needed the 125mm wood at a minimum.

So I am limited by that, unless I ditch it.

Also, for some reason the Wickes 125mm wood is square edge, whereas the 95mm wood has a rounded edge.

But yes, if I make the bench the way I’m planning, it’s going nowhere, which is part of the reason I was interested in making something without glue. And not going in the car either. But the holdfasts need to work - a good part of the reason for building it.

Steve
 

Attachments

  • 8C1131AC-5F5F-4122-B2AE-F4748FB1A419.MOV
    36.6 MB
I guess since you have the vice hardware then thick top it is. If the holdfasts dont hold then you can counterbore a larger hole part way up from below. I am not sold on just screwing the top boards together. Holdfasts will apply a leaverage (as will the end vice)every time they are used and exploit any movement between boards. Who knows it may be fine but cant guarantee it. Worst case is having to unscrew it then glue it. My way of looking at it is if you are spending money on wood then best to do it right first time round.
Regards
John
 
As far as thickness is concerned, there appears to be no reason why the tail vice section can’t be thicker than the rest of the bench, ie 125 at the front, 95 for the rest. You’ll need to trim the 95 to remove the roundovers on the top face or do a lot of flattening.

125 is a bit thick for a lot of 3/4“ holdfasts anyway, a lot that size recommend counterboring the bottom of the hole to reduce the effective thickness to 3 or 4 inches. I made the Chris Schwartz bench with wickes timber, ending up about 5” thick and the only holdfasts that really work are big 1” ones.

Screws and glue is what I would do if I didn’t have clamps, and a split top resting on a knock down base if I wanted portability, although I have moved my 7’6” bench in a transit van relatively easily (could back up to the workshop though!).
 
So, the reason for not using different thicknesses is that the centre vise created by the gap between the left side of the bench and the tail vise is a key part of the design. I will line this with

Then there’s the connection of the tail vise to the rear of the bench, if you look at the video… there needs to be:

1 thickness of wood to mount the tail vise mounting plate on
1 which goes on top of the tail vise (missing in the video)
1 which the front of the tail vise attaches to (the tail vise is partially in a mortise in this one also
a thinner section with gaps for square dog holes
1 front piece

That gives a centre vise depth of only about 18 cm but overall is almost half the depth of the bench top which needs to be made of full thickness planks.

I think I am sold though on the following based on the ideas above…

1) Building a knock down base rather than a mortised Roubo type design.
2) Making the top in two sections - back section as a simple 2.4m bench top and the front section with the vise related bits.
3) counterboring the dog holes

A question... Often we see these benches with square holes for the tail vise dogs. Is there any advantage to this? better planing stops?
What’s a good distance for putting the tail vise dog holes from the front of the bench? I want to be putting mouldings on the edge of things

Steve
 
Square dogs are the ultimate aim but round dogs are a whole lot easier to do and can be done after the bench is made. I kept all my dog holes 3/4'' as that what suits my holdfasts. I dare say some will argue for square but we all work in our own way. I just make my own wood dogs as they cost nothing and I dont want metal dogs that may ding plane irions. I do have one square planing stop at the left end of the bench as I am right handed. My dad, grandad and great grandad were all carpenters/joiners and their benches only had the one plane stop and no tail vice. They managed to make a living working wood with nothing fancy while most of us just play at it with all the gear. For years I wanted a tail vice but have to say now I have one (allbeit a poormans tail vice) it seldom gets used to clamp wood to the benchtop. Have found a holdfast and a doe's foot/bird's mouth stick easier to work with.
As to dog placing to cut mouldings or rebates the edge of the work needs to be just over the bench edge so a plane fence will have free travel. Of course the actual endvice design will have some bearing on this. Be aware that an end vice can cause thin or long bits of wood to flex and bow up from the surface so at times other holding methods have to be used.
Here is a clip to get some ideas to mull over for anyone planning building a bench.
Mike Siemsen, Workholding on Viseless Bench - YouTube
Not saying thats the bench to build but hand woodworking evolved over a long period of time and those bygone days guys solved most of the problems before any of us were around.
Regards
John
 
A well makes it much easier - you can make up the two sides separately, or just a single front "beam" with a raised apron at the back - the normal trad bench design, which has gone right out of fashion but is still the best IMHO.

Screenshot 2023-02-17 at 11.23.30.png


I must have posted this pic 100s of times over the years!
The advantage of a well is that it uses less material and is much easier to flatten the top, even more so if you just have the one man bench as above, where the front beam lines up with the back apron. Much easier to correct if there is movement.
Also much easier to make up one or two separate beams rather than trying to make one solid top.
If not enough clamps could glue the stack on edge with weights?
The well is really useful whilst working as all your tools, chippings etc can be dropped in out of the way. Most of your work will be on the front edge, say over 5 to 10 inches, so you don't lose anything much by having a well.
PS I call it a "beam" as it resembles and has same function as the "japanese planing beam".
I have one square stop like the above, and random holes drilled when needed, for hold downs.
A cut out in the apron lets me insert G clamp for a hold down, or wider stuff can be clamped directly to the apron when working on the edge etc.
I've also got several large blocks (from old joists) planed to same depth as well, so I can drop them in if needed.
Another useful accessory is a piece of MDF to lay on top for a clean flat surface, with battens under to locate it in the well
 
Last edited:
Don't worry about thick workbench top and holdfasts not working, rather than using 'blacksmith' holdfast look at the modern clamp style instead. [or relieve holes from underneath]
 
A08E098F-FD14-47A5-B2EF-006CC99D1BBA.jpeg


There you go, I did it. Thanks for all the advice. Split top in the end, no fancy dovetails on the end caps but they are mortised and screwed with slotted brass screws at the ends so it’s not too bad.

Lessons learnt - don’t use Wickes construction timber! It flakes like crazy, can’t even really use a marking knife on it. Quite a few were cupped which caused problems with gluing and squaring. But at this time I couldn’t have afforded anything else. Beech would have been lovely but twice the price. Next time.

Cost - £200 for wood, £85 for tail vise, £50 for holdfasts, everything else was lying around including the Parkinson vise from the last bench.

Already I’m playing with sticking mouldings on long lengths of timber! Casement bay window coming soon. Hopefully.

Steve
 
Last edited:
View attachment 155868

There you go, I did it. Thanks for all the advice. Split top in the end, no fancy dovetails on the end caps but they are mortised and screwed with slotted brass screws at the ends so it’s not too bad.

Lessons learnt - don’t use Wickes construction timber! It flakes like crazy, can’t even really use a marking knife on it. Quite a few were cupped which caused problems with gluing and squaring. But at this time I couldn’t have afforded anything else. Beech would have been lovely but twice the price. Next time.

Cost - £200 for wood, £85 for tail vise, £50 for holdfasts, everything else was lying around including the Parkinson vise from the last bench.

Already I’m playing with sticking mouldings on long lengths of timber! Casement bay window coming soon. Hopefully.

Steve
You smashed it - well done!!
 
N
great job. How was fitting the tail vise? Looks like the Veritas I have just bought to try!
Nic

That is a real problem. It is designed to fit on an incredibly thick workbench, as far as I can tell. I ended up tapping the holes for the “cross bolts” and reinforcing them to make it solid. Then I welded up a u-shaped metal bracket that I could bolt to the vise to connect the sliding part of the bench. I had to make a prototype to work out how to do it.

Vid might help
 

Attachments

  • IMG_3951.MOV
    5.8 MB
Back
Top