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Roubo Workbench Decisions

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bp122

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After spending nearly two years on my dining table-converted-to-workbench, which is the Michael Flatley of workbenches, I have decided to make a proper one. Months of pondering what type and style, weighing up cost, practicality and looks etc., I have decided on a Roubo workbench.



The design will be a split top roubo with a leg vise and no tail vise (at the moment, anyway). Although the tail vise could be very useful, many threads on installing it have made it sound an absolute chore. Also, I like the idea of a Doe’s foot for its simplicity and lower cost and complexity (vise hardware, dovetailing the rear end etc)



This is where my thinking could be categorized as wishful. A small number of them online have been a knockdown version of this. Given the lack of aprons, Roubo bench’s stability is in the massive mortice and tenon joints, further reinforced by glue.

But the knockdown versions say the long stretchers are attached to the leg assemblies using lag bolts and the top is attached to the legs on dry mortice and tenon joints but secured with bolts from underneath through a second cross member (at the top) on the leg assembly.



  1. Has anyone here tried this?
  2. Am I right in assuming that a dry joints like this won’t be near as stable as a fully glued up version?
  3. Any adverse effects of using lag bolts on the long stretchers as opposed to say using a through wedge joint that can be dismantled by taking the wedge off?


Before anyone asks, the only reason I am considering a knockdown version is in case we move house in the next few years, I wanted the bench assembly to come apart so that I didn’t have to pay the moving company more than the bench’s worth to move it!



My finger is on the button of a timber supplier’s website……… (just kidding, haven’t gone that insane yet)



Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

Cabinetman

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Well done on making a decision, I’m sure it can’t be easy with all the different variations out there. I’m sorry I can’t answer most of your questions as I haven’t built one of those. I would just say though have you seen Mike Siemsen's video wood holding on a viceless bench, not that he or I would recommend such a thing, he’s big on doesfoot holding amongst other things. It’s a long video but I think it’s worth watching, He is an unusual American, he does more work than talk if you know what I mean. Ian
 

bp122

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Oh yes, that's right. I had seen this recommendation a while ago in another thread. And I had watched the video. It was quite an eye opener.
Perhaps I will watch it again soon.

Add thanks for your comments. You are right about the variations!
 

Phil Pascoe

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It's highly unlikely your bench will be wider than a domestic doorway, so weight will be the problem if you move, not the size. I anticipated moving mine so made the frame in one piece but designed it so that the top baulks and the vice could be removed easily. They are bolted down with coach screws through heavy commercial galvanised angle brackets. I fixed them first with four thick washers under each screw so that when reassembling I used one fewer washer each time to allow the screws to pull dead. It's been moved four times.
 

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I don't think removal companies will worry about a bench any more than they would about a piano.

The extra cost will be inconsequential in the grand scheme of moving moving house.

So I would glue or use deep aprons.

Cheers James
 
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C64

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Have you looked at the Moravian workbench which is designed as a portable knockdown?
 

bp122

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I don't think removal companies will worry about a bench anyone than they would about a piano.

The extra cost will be inconsequential in the grand scheme of moving moving house.

So I would glue or use deep aprons.

Cheers James
Well said. I guess on some level I wanted someone to say this to me :D

Have you looked at the Moravian workbench which is designed as a portable knockdown?
I just looked at it on YouTube. Very interesting. But the top is merely resting on the legs kept in place by the dowels. Does this mean if you try to lift the workbench with just the top, the top will lift off?
 

Gavlar

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I'm in the middle of building my own split-top based on Roubo, but heavily influenced by Christopher Schwarz's wonderful Anarchist's Workbench book (available free online if you've not seen it, highly recommended). He strongly does not recommend knockdown construction as, for the reasons stated above) you won't use it in practice and it will work loose over time. So I'm fully gluing and leaving the moving problem to others!
 

bp122

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I'm in the middle of building my own split-top based on Roubo, but heavily influenced by Christopher Schwarz's wonderful Anarchist's Workbench book (available free online if you've not seen it, highly recommended). He strongly does not recommend knockdown construction as, for the reasons stated above) you won't use it in practice and it will work loose over time. So I'm fully gluing and leaving the moving problem to others!
Just downloaded the book. Thanks for that.

I am going through his workbench book. Was very tempted with the angled leg Nicholson at first, but was bowled over by the Roubo.

I love your attitude on the matter of moving it. Heck, I'll do the same!
This way I can just use draw boarding for the long stretchers as well.
 

C64

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Yes the Moravian worktop will lift off but I wouldn’t be worried about it sliding off or being unstable. In the past, my workbench was a ply torsion box placed unsecured on top of a pair metal sawhorses and had done serious amount of hand planing without problem.
 

bp122

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Yes the Moravian worktop will lift off but I wouldn’t be worried about it sliding off or being unstable. In the past, my workbench was a ply torsion box placed unsecured on top of a pair metal sawhorses and had done serious amount of hand planing without problem.
Fair enough.
 

Ttrees

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Have you looked through that workbench thread elsewhere titled 'all replies on workbench smackdown'
Some of the nicest Roubo's I've ever seen are there, get pen and paper ready for jotting the pages down, you'll be reading that thread and the part two for a long while.
Good luck
Tom
 

bp122

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Have you looked through that workbench thread elsewhere titled 'all replies on workbench smackdown'
Some of the nicest Roubo's I've ever seen are there, get pen and paper ready for jotting the pages down, you'll be reading that thread and the part two for a long while.
Good luck
Tom
Will do!
 

bp122

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Regarding the leg vise, other than benchcrafted, I can't find anyone else that can sell decent hardware for it. Is that true or am I blind?
 

Orraloon

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I pretty much did as you are planning to do. Knock down is a must unless you know you will never have to move it. The wracking resistance is in the size of the shoulders of the long stretchers. The top and bottom end rails are glued joints and the long stretchers are attached with a nut and bolt like a bed bolt arrangement. Mine is all scrounged wood so the top is pine and the legs are blue gum. Keep the top halves narrow enough to go through a thicknesser and you save a load of sweat.
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Enjoy the build.
Regards
John
 

PaulArthur

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I did exactly what you suggest - my workshop is in a cellar and there’s no way the bench would get around the corner snd up the stairs once built so it had to be Split top and it had to be knockdown.

The left and right leg frames are solid, front and rear stretchers held in by bench bolts, and the top held on with huge dry tenons, and threaded inserts in the underside which bolt through the the bearers on the leg frames.

It’s done 18 months so far and everything is still tight and awesome. I used really really dry timber though and kept it for a month in the cellar (not a damp cellar) so the tenons in the top are still tight. I made the decision to make the legs 6” square to ensure that the tenons were massive and the bench had loads of mass to resist me working on it and so it might resist wobbling loose too.

Anything you want to know? I think your idea is sound - it worked brilliantly for me.

1B9AC133-715B-4A48-BB4F-1ED5732F075D.jpeg
 

PaulArthur

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Oh, and my leg vice is a Hovarter Custom Vise leg vice with X link scissor mechanism and a large hand wheel.

It’s a different way of working from the Benchcrafted one and it was a few quid cheaper once customs had finished their process, and it holds everything I need it to, but I get the feeling that the Benchcrafted would hold a bit better.

Horses for courses though - I probably wish I’d gone with Benchcrafted, but only just.
 

bp122

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I did exactly what you suggest - my workshop is in a cellar and there’s no way the bench would get around the corner snd up the stairs once built so it had to be Split top and it had to be knockdown.

The left and right leg frames are solid, front and rear stretchers held in by bench bolts, and the top held on with huge dry tenons, and threaded inserts in the underside which bolt through the the bearers on the leg frames.

It’s done 18 months so far and everything is still tight and awesome. I used really really dry timber though and kept it for a month in the cellar (not a damp cellar) so the tenons in the top are still tight. I made the decision to make the legs 6” square to ensure that the tenons were massive and the bench had loads of mass to resist me working on it and so it might resist wobbling loose too.

Anything you want to know? I think your idea is sound - it worked brilliantly for me.

View attachment 105097
First of all, thank you for responding and explaining your setup.

Second of all, thank you for lying to us about your photo studio as being a cellar :D

Thirdly, Of course I will take it off your hands, if you insist! :D it will be easier as it comes apart as you said!!

Kidding aside, it is a spectacularly beautiful bench and that leg vise just takes the cherry!

I might take you up on your offer on suggestions though.
 

bp122

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It’s done 18 months so far and everything is still tight and awesome. I used really really dry timber though and kept it for a month in the cellar (not a damp cellar) so the tenons in the top are still tight. I made the decision to make the legs 6” square to ensure that the tenons were massive and the bench had loads of mass to resist me working on it and so it might resist wobbling loose too.

Anything you want to know? I think your idea is sound - it worked brilliantly for me.
Couple of questions:
1. When you say the top is bolted, did you elongate the holes on the bearers to account for wood movement?
2. The bench bolts to hold the long stretchers, would you be able to share a picture of that as to where it is?

Please.
:)
 

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