Woodworking in the great white north.

The Petite 21st Century Split-Top Roubo Plus

The bench I’m planning to build is the offspring of a number of benches.  I’ve read everything I could get my hands on, sometimes over and over and over…just call me slow on the uptake.  This all started with WIA 2010 where I saw the different benches used in the demonstrations during lectures as well as the benches in the marketplace.  I realized that I was not going to transition to a hybrid or hand tool woodworker with the bench I currently had.  Since that time, I’ve seen many more benches (click here for slideshow of the benches at NEWWS last year), scoured blogs for details of workbench builds and drawn several different bench styles.

The main thievery of bench style came from the following sources:

  • Chris Schwarz:  heavy massive base, Roubo style joinery to the bench top, shelf on the bottom
  • Bob Lang:  the split top concept with removable tool trays (I’ve got plans for these that hopefully go beyond expectations)
  • Frank Klaus:  the L shaped tail vise
  • Benchcrafted:  the split top concept with the tool rack/planing stop

I already had the tail vise and face vise hardware so I figured I was good to go.  I came up with some rough dimensions and started doing some drawings and then it was back to the books to work out the finer details.

In the time between coming up with that design and now I’ve been nagged with a fairly constant barrage of praise for leg vises.  I finally gave in and accepted that the reason it was bugging me is because I wanted one and had to admin that I’d bought the face vise hardware prematurely.  After Marc kicked off the Benchcrafted Split Top Roubo workbench build in The Woodwhisperer Guild build I started REALLY questioning the hardware I had.  I thought long and hard about it and will concede that the leg vise is a good idea.  The wagon vise is nice, but didn’t keep me up at night like the leg vise did.  The Moxon double screw vise?  I’ll save that one for after I’ve got the bench.

What to do with the face vise then?  The reality is that I have guests in my workshop fairly regularly and if I’m hogging the bench area with the vise that pretty much limits anyone else in the shop.  Since the bench won’t be up against a wall, I’ve decided to flip it over to the other side of the bench and expand my options.  By adding the face vise to the other side, I’m now also considering putting the slot and rail for the sliding deadman in there as well.  I doubt I need two of them, but flipping it from one side to the other could be useful.

So now I’m pretty much settled on what I’m going to build and have a pretty good idea of how I’m going to build it.  I just have a few details to work out on the relative sizing of the base to the top and how much space each vise requires and I should be good to go.

Next comes the shopping trips to get the lumber.  I’ve thrown a couple of pictures out on Twitter recently after my shopping trips, call those a teaser.  For the next post I’ll try to get some better pictures to show you what I’m dealing with.

Oh…and excuse my Sketchup skills.  I’m planning on a better Sketchup plan, that I might upload somewhere at some point, in the meantime these were generated from what I would call RoughSketchup.

5 responses

  1. Looks good, Ian.

    One question, since you’re going with a split top design (good idea), and you need upper stretchers to support the 2 piece top, why bother attaching the legs to the top with the dovetail & mortise (a la petite roubo)?

    January 19, 2012 at 6:34 pm

  2. I could try to convince you that my motivation was to allow the bench top movement to be to shrink or expand the gap while keeping the outside edges flush with the legs, which might not happen with the Benchcrafted design.

    But….I’ll cop to the real reason. I think it looks cool…vanity wins.

    I really went back and forth on the decision, but seeing Kari’s last couple of blog posts pushed me over the edge. Damn peer pressure!

    January 19, 2012 at 9:49 pm

  3. Adam

    As one of the mentioned guests, I endorse these plans :-)

    January 23, 2012 at 12:46 pm

  4. Looking forward to reading about the build. I think you have a winner. I have a split-top Roubo and I’m also installing another vise on the backside.

    January 26, 2012 at 11:10 am

    • Thanks, I’m going to have to take another look at your bench pictures. Post some when you get the other vise installed, I started another sketchup plan for this with the actual dimensions I’m looking at using (the above are rough estimates) and I’m debating where that face vise is going to live.

      That and I’m bailing on the Roubo through dovetail tenons. I’d love to do it, but the tail vise is going to make that part an issue for me, so I’m probably just going to do a regular tenon like in the Guild plans for the Benchcrafted bench.

      January 26, 2012 at 9:47 pm

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