Making a Roubo Workbench: Part 2
Well after letting the wood acclimate and dry in my shop for about a month, I finally had the time to assemble the top. I took each board and planed them down to 1 1/4″ thick. Be prepared to have a boat load of shavings coming from your planer. I ended up filling four garbage cans with planer shavings. After surface planing, I straightened the boards the best I could with my transitional jointer. The boards were just too long for me try to joint them over my 6″ motorized jointer so I clamped each one to the bench and did it with a hand plane. It didn’t take that long at all and honestly I wasn’t looking for a perfectly straight edge anyway. I just wanted to get rid of the crook in the board so I could rip them to size on the tablesaw. After each board was ripped to 4 1/4″ wide, I laminated them into sections using five boards per section. The shorter part of the bench was laminated with seven boards.
After each section was dry, I ran them through the surface planer and planed them to 4″ thick. Then I glued two sections together. After that section dried, I glued the third. Then when that dried I glued the forth (you get the idea). I did my best to dry fit and line up the sections to minimize any hand planing once the top was formed. However, even after all the careful planning, I still ended up with an 1/8″ bow in my top. I’m not entirely sure why that was but if I had to guess, I say the bowing of my pipe clamps played a part. I’ve always heard of the limitations of pipe clamps and I think I found one of them. Clamping this massive behemith of a top was no easy task. I had to apply an extreme amount of pressure to get each section to bond tightly with one another. It was times like these where I wished I owned twice the amount of pipe clamps!
Once the top was glued together I grabbed my Stanley No 8C jointer and No 5C fore plane and went to town. I planed across and diagonal to the grain to level out the top as easily as possible. The 5C worked well to remove a lot of stock quickly. The No 8 was effective in leveling the high and low spots. Periodically I would check my progress with a straight edge (the side of my No 8 plane) and plane where necessary. I also used winding sticks to make sure the top did not twist from one end to the other. It took me an hour and forty five minutes to plane down the entire top but the funny thing was that I actually enjoyed all the planing.
Next I’ll make the legs and build the frame. I’ll keep you posted.
I used my transitional jointer plane with a fence to clean up one edge of the 2x board so that I could rip it on the tablesaw more accurately.
Each section was glued up with five boards. The shorter section of the bench was glued up with seven boards.
The boards that were crooked the worst I cut off and used them for the shorter section of the bench.
On the boards that were severly crooked, I ran a straight edge down the board and chopped down to the line with chisels, planes and a drawknife.
Boy do I suck! Even after spending the time dry fitting and carefully lining up the sections, I still had a bow in the top. The top dipped down 1/8" in the middle.
Gluing up the sections was no easy task. I first glued two sections together then added the next section after the first two dried and then so forth.
I often check my progress by laying the jointer plane on it's side to check for flatness. I also used a four foot level to check the flatness along the length of the bench.
Top is glued up with four sections. Overall top dimesion will be about 4" x 28" x 90".
My Stanley No 8C jointer plane is a beast but the weight helps me push the plane across the grain of the wood with ease.
Top is much better!!! It took about an hour and forty five minutes to level the top using my No 8C and No 5C bench planes.
My pile of shavings. Could you image the amount of saw dust I would have created had I used a belt sander to level the top? There would have been dust everywhere in the house. My wife would have killed me!!
I used winding sticks to make sure the top was straight and didn't twist from one end to the other.