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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Melbourne
    Age
    32
    Posts
    22

    Default A Roubo of "small" stature, for the inner suburban gent.

    Hi folks,
    I’ll try keep this short and sweet. Perhaps 3-4 posts to outline the build. Feel free to chime in with any questions or tips for next time. This is my little effort at contributing to the enrichment of the knowledge base that is this forum.

    BACKGROUND
    A little on my background. I am a 32 year old mechanical engineer by trade. I have always been fascinated by good design, and how things work. My heros are those real engineers like Brunel and Kelly Johnson.
    Sadly engineering these days tends to be moreso about the hot air that is report writing, coffee breaks, meetings discussing the known unknowns of the unknown knowns, and having engineering peers that don't know the difference between a CV joint and a Curriculum Vitae.
    My childhood was strict but interesting. I went to uni to get my degree but was trained in wood by my father – a truly amazing man who is of the Tage Frid/Klausz era being trained in the south of Germany coming out as a “Schreinermeister” 10 years after he started his apprenticeship in the 1960s. Perhaps some folks on the forum know of him when he worked for over a decade at the NGV as the frame maker, carver, gilder and restorer in residence.
    Thus I have always found the need to have a creative hands on hobby ever since I can remember.
    20190608_165729.jpg
    Above: A picture of my father and I, just about when he came to let me know he'd made us a cup of coffee.....I was quietly hoping he didnt see my large thermos of tea.

    A few months ago it was because of this craving that I decided it was time to build my first bench.
    I lack space as where I live. My work space is a single car garage that is already half full of stuff. Storage shelves against the back wall, whilst a welding cart, metal working bench and rolling tool cabinet already call the place home.
    This led to the decision to build a Roubo with a 1550mm x 650mm footprint.
    I came up with the design on paper. It is a split top bench, minus the central tool well. The short length dictated a different solution in the design of the base for the tail vise to maintain it’s full range of motion.
    I used the workbench build as an exercise of hand skills.
    Work commenced in late winter, working on Saturday’s borrowing my dad’s workshop when he wasn’t on the tools but rather inside watching Clint Eastwood movies. I repaid him by cleaning up the place and providing him with copious amounts of tea, coffee and various baked treats – the sure way to a German’s heart.
    A couple of months later, the bench was complete.

    Materials
    The majority was hard maple. It is durable, stable and provides a nice light background against which to work and set planes whilst contrasting accents were done using Blackwood. The maple came from Anthony who runs “Timber Lord” in Melbourne, whilst the Blackwood came from Mathews in Knoxfield.
    Some figured timber was also used, which I worked into the build as I acquired it along the way from random sources. The front is fiddleback Tassie Oak. The left end caps are quilted maple. The rear is quilted maple. Wherever figured timber was used, a 15mm top cap and 10mm bottom cap was used to sandwich and protect the figured timber. This way I can clamp items right to the edge of the benchtop and not worry about damaging the workbench.
    All figured timber is 40mm in thickness – no veneers were used.
    Below (Top to bottom): Tassie Oak, Quilted Maple, Aussie Blackwood, Quilted Maple.
    20190803_164647.jpg


    The Hardware
    The Leg Vise and the Tail Vise are Bench Crafted units. I did some window shopping, and very quickly realised that the best quality were the Bench Crafted units. Expensive – yes, but you get what you pay for.


    Next: Building the Base and the Top.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Hobart, Tas
    Posts
    513

    Default

    A great story so far. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you've done.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Melbourne
    Age
    32
    Posts
    22

    Default A Roubo of "small" stature, for the inner suburban gent. Building the Base and Top

    Building The Base
    The legs went up with no hesitation, making use of large traditional mortise and tenons I cut by hand. They are held together using the Bench Crafted bolt kit. The keen eyed will notice the leg where the vise is mounted, is wider to accommodate the tenons and the channel for the St Peter’s Cross mechanism.
    An even keener eye will notice that the leg where the tail/wagon vise is mounted has a great large chunk attached to it. This is for an offset tenon – my solution to maintaining the full range of motion of the tail/wagon vise whilst retaining a wider leg spacing for stability.
    Essentially the construction is such that there are two trestles that are connected by two long parallel stretchers/rails.
    20190525_131136.jpg20190608_163316.jpg20190608_110632.jpg
    The Top
    I didn’t expect to get as much attention on the top as I have been receiving. I shall try break it down as simply as possible without any faff.
    The top is in 2 halves. There is no tool well in the centre because I find it annoying to have something in the middle of a good work surface, though this is purely personal preference.
    The 2 halves are 45mm thick Hard Maple, and each half has 2 end caps, amounting to 4 in total.
    The end caps rest on beefy tenons, and are not glued to accommodate for movement in the laminated maple slabs. They are held in position by the tenon and dovetails on each corner, with additional clamping force from 2 bolts on either end of each half.

    Below: Gluing the top up, the German way - many clamps on many cauls for good pressure distribution....yes, after this picture was taken that clamp cart was further emptied.
    20190829_160246.jpg
    The dovetails turned out to be the most striking feature. There are 4 corners, and each corner is dovetailed. Some folks call them “Needlepoint Houndstooth Dovetails”, I just call them skinny dovetails in skinny dovetails. They were cut by hand with a tenon saw, hence the very narrow pins. I know some folks have thought they were veneered, but all the dovetails serve the function in contributing to the overall robustness of the bench, thus they are 40mm thick. The waste was removed partially by use of a hand held drill, but the majority with a good sharp chisel.
    20190909_113825.jpg20190911_151829.jpg20190912_141141.jpg
    Above: To cut the dovetails in this awkward position, i reduced the chatter by clamping as large a mass as possible to the workpiece, and letting the saw do all the work.

    Due to the nature of construction, each end block rests on a tenon in the same was as a breadboard end. Thus the most difficult thing with the top was the fact that I could not really test fit the dovetails, I relied basically on measurements. When the dovetails are pushed together by nature of the joint design, it is impossible to take the dovetails apart. This was especially the case with the rear piece of quilted maple as in the prior pictures. I did partially fit the dovetails on the rear of the workbench top, but realized that if i had pushed them together any further id not be able to take them apart.

    Upon completion, I worked out that due to the design, this top has a significant (perhaps upto 3 times as many) amount of individual pieces of timber more than a standard split top Roubo. Note to self: this is absolutely unnecessary in the next workbench I build as there is a significant effort insuring all are exactly the correct dimensions so that no gaps would result in the final workbench top.
    The top is 115mm thick and such thickness negates the need for top rails and therefore allowing one to clamp their work to the bench from all sides with no hindrance. I completed the front half of the split top first, levelling it with my trusty sharp Stanley No.7 and a card scraper.
    The rear half was then done to match the front half. The 2 halves of the top mount to the base using 2 large mortises on each half for lateral location. I marked these, used my trusty portable drill press to remove the majority of waste, then chiseled the rest out by hand.
    20190920_100652.jpg20190920_101000.jpg20190920_143744.jpg20191108_165026.jpg
    Because the upper rails on each end of the workbench base are 110mm thick and also because I wanted a cleaner finish, I added a secondary rail that was 40x50mm. This then has 4 large screws on each end that pull the top halves onto the base.

    Next: The finishing touches.

    Cheers,
    Siggy

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Woodstock (Cowra)
    Age
    70
    Posts
    2,431

    Default

    A most satisfying read, look forward to the end result
    The person who never made a mistake never made anything

    Cheers
    Ray

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Melbourne
    Age
    32
    Posts
    22

    Default A Roubo of "small" stature, for the inner suburban gent. The finishing touches.

    The finish line is in sight!

    The entire workbench, bar the top surface is varnished. The choice of varnish is the wonderful Wattyl Estapol Tung Oil Polyurethane Floor Varnish. My dad has used Estapol since he arrived in Oz in 1973, and has always had consistent results with it, and I have used it a number of years with great success.

    The workbench was completely disassembled and the entire thing (bar the top surface) was given 8 coats over the course of 10 days. Why 8 coats? The only reason was that I had about 1L of it, and I wanted to simply use it all up, and the weather was warm and dry presenting ideal conditions for varnishing. I then left it for 5 days to completely cure.
    20191008_211952.jpg20191012_084346.jpg20191013_111502.jpgIMG_20191015_084301_546.jpg
    Above: Estapol approval granted by the old gal. The new varnishing venue. It didnt take long before everything started to pop.

    Initially I was hoping to varnish at home, but the smell of mineral turps and varnish left us feeling high as a kite. Fortunately I knew of some people who were renovating their house and on a holiday, so under cover of night I relocated everything there to carry on with the varnishing.


    The bench was then assembled and I skimmed that last 0.3mm off the top with the trusty Stanley No.7.
    The top surface then received 4 coats of Livos Universal Oil. This stuff is basically exactly the same as Danish Oil in that it is essentially Linseed Oil and drying agents (it also smells like oranges).
    Again I simply used Livos as I had some available to me that was left over.

    Having worked in various manufacturing industries (I did some time in prototyping, composites and fabrication) and as a result I am very fond of Nickel plating – for corrosion resistance, durability and aesthetics. So all hardware was given a pickle and plating of the good stuff.


    So completes the build of the workbench. Now it temporarily resides in the living room whilst I build/sort storage solutions out in the small garage that the workbench will eventually move into.
    IMG_6551.jpgIMG_6465.jpgIMG_6457.jpgIMG_6467.jpgIMG_6501.jpgIMG_6505.jpgIMG_6507.jpg

    To all fine purveyors of photography, please accept my apologies in advance as I am no wiz with the camera. There is some glare and lighting that is imperfect in the above photos. For this I am truly sorry.
    Next Step
    I lack wallspace in my garage, as such I will built a smaller tool cabinet that will contain my most used tools, whilst all the rest will need to be stored elsewhere.
    So to keep the footprint as small as possible in the garage, I will build a storage unit that will go underneath the workbench similar to Rob’s infamous jarrah bench. 2 stacks of 3 drawers side by side, 6 drawers in total.
    My goal is to have it made from Tassie blackwood. I already acquired some pieces scavenged from a Welsh dresser (it was acacia melanoxylon from South Africa, believe it or not!) but I don’t yet have enough to construct the storage unit.
    So if anyone has any old blackwood lying around that they want to swap for a case of beer, do let me know. I would rather recycle blackwood, than go out and get fresh stuff.

    I sincerely hope you all have enjoyed the read. I'm always open to more feedback for future improvement.


    Cheers,
    Siggy

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Melbourne
    Age
    32
    Posts
    22

    Default

    Thank you sir, and you're more than welcome. I'll post the rest of the build tonight as I have already drafted it up on my laptop.
    I hope you get as much enjoyment from the rest of it as you did with the first post.

    Cheers,
    Siggy
    Quote Originally Posted by LanceC View Post
    A great story so far. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you've done.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Melbourne
    Age
    32
    Posts
    22

    Default

    Cheers Ray for the kind words, I've just put up the rest of the story. I did cut the finer details out as not to bore anyone, so if you have any questions dont hesitate to ask.


    Cheers,
    Siggy
    Quote Originally Posted by rwbuild View Post
    A most satisfying read, look forward to the end result

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    4,204

    Default

    Fantastic write up an love the story
    Please keep doing what your doing , it’s very entertaining [emoji106][emoji106][emoji106]

    Cheers Matt.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    blue mountains
    Posts
    4,033

    Default

    Great bench build. Going to be a good looking bench.
    Regards
    John

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Sutherland Shire, Sydney
    Age
    66
    Posts
    1,185

    Default

    What else can be said except "WOW".
    There are some very impressive pieces of timber there, both in looks and dimensions. That would be a very heavy workbench, just the thing for planing and chiseling. Just be very careful, it would be a shame to marr the finish.

    I loved the write up, I can see this story being written up in Australian Woodworker or similar magazines, great work all round.

    Enjoy your new toy.

    Alan...

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Burleigh Heads
    Age
    66
    Posts
    2,165

    Default

    I started reading and was getting set to draw up the stool to watch the rest of the build, but alas the story has already come to an end. I'll content myself with absorbing some of the background detail in the pictures. Thankyou Siggy for joining the forum, I hope some of us that are mere amateurs can amuse you enough with our WIPs to stick around with a few of the other accomplished members.
    Franklin

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Mornington Peninsula
    Posts
    17

    Default

    Beautiful piece of furniture. Leave it in the living room and make another one for the workshop.

    Your Dad must be proud.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Melbourne
    Age
    32
    Posts
    22

    Default

    Thanks for the kind words Alan,
    I promise you that I am a light handed person when it comes to handling tools and doing work. I will do my best not to marr the finish.
    I am glad you enjoyed my writeup. I try not to take myself too seriously, after all, it is a few planks of a dead tree that I have stuck together in a pretty shape

    Cheers,
    Siggy
    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Al View Post
    What else can be said except "WOW".
    There are some very impressive pieces of timber there, both in looks and dimensions. That would be a very heavy workbench, just the thing for planing and chiseling. Just be very careful, it would be a shame to marr the finish.

    I loved the write up, I can see this story being written up in Australian Woodworker or similar magazines, great work all round.

    Enjoy your new toy.

    Alan...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Melbourne
    Age
    32
    Posts
    22

    Default

    That's very nice of you to say Franklin, I really do appreciate it sir.

    I really tried to restrain myself from writing too long a novel to ensure I didn't bore too many folks. As always, I have tonnes more photos and would be more than happy to write about specifics if anyone would like me to. Just name the topic and I'll do my best to address it sir.

    Best regards,
    Siggy


    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzie View Post
    I started reading and was getting set to draw up the stool to watch the rest of the build, but alas the story has already come to an end. I'll content myself with absorbing some of the background detail in the pictures. Thankyou Siggy for joining the forum, I hope some of us that are mere amateurs can amuse you enough with our WIPs to stick around with a few of the other accomplished members.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Melbourne
    Age
    32
    Posts
    22

    Default

    Thanks for that Ambrosia,
    It is very tempting to do so, but alas, I will work on this bench as intended. I am planning to be in a larger workshop in the next 3-4 years and at that point I hope to have the skills to build a full sized bench. Perhaps a Scandinavian style (as this is actually what I was trained on and am most familiar with).
    It was my intent that when this happens I will retire this bench to being used as an assembly table or something similar.


    Kindest regards,
    Siggy


    Quote Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
    Beautiful piece of furniture. Leave it in the living room and make another one for the workshop.

    Your Dad must be proud.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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