Almost there…

The workbench is nearing completion. I’ve spent the past 8 hours in the workshop, sanding, routing, gluing, sawing, and sanding some more, underneath cloudy and now rainy skies.

First thing was insetting the end vise so that it was flush with the end of the bench and it will soon have a set of blocks on it to brace any projects as needed.

With that done it was on to several hours of sanding and removing excess glue from the assembly and filling any gaps with epoxy along with hammering in some shims into the sliding dovetail leg joints. Once that initial sanding was done, I milled the 1″x1″ cleats and glued and nailed them to the stretchers in preparation for building the shelf.

You can tell from the images that the oak dowels have been fitted into the mitered tenons of the stretchers. That was probably the most straightforward thing I’ve done with the entire project.

I’ve always liked the way a sanded oak peg looks in contrast to a lighter wood, in this case the poplar of the legs and the cedar stretchers. It should really shine when I apply the finish.

Lastly I milled, planed, and cut the rabbets for the soon to be ship-lapped boards of the shelf. I’ve got a good amount of cedar pickets lying around from the when we replaced our privacy fence earlier this year and they fit the bill for the workbench shelf.

I’m almost there now. I’ve still got some epoxy and sanding work to take care of and I’ve finally decided that I will indeed install a face vise, most likely the Wood Vise Screw Kit from Lake Erie Toolworks. Beyond that, I’ll need to finish the wood and I’m planning on using boiled linseed oil and thinner for that. Nothing fancy, just something to bring out the grain. The goal is to be more or less finished before the weekend so that I can take care of those last minute Christmas presents that have been waiting in the wings.

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Roubo Test Run

After the Thanksgiving break, I’ve returned to the Roubo Workbench project-the weather has turned to the darker and cooler side and that means doing what I can with my hands instead of power tools in an effort to stay warm.

I’ve spent the better part of yesterday and today laminating the 2×6 cedar boards that will become the lower shelf and bashing out the mortises into which they will be fitted. It’s a long process-boring out the “L” – shaped mortises on each leg with the hand brace and then chipping out the rest with a mortising chisel and finally cutting the mitered tenons to fit.

At the end of it I was able to dry-fit everything and that’s where I’ve left things for the evening. Tomorrow is glue-up and driving in the pegs for the tenons along with wedging the sliding dovetail and tenon joints and trimming off the excess and milling the shiplapped boards for the shelf and installing them.

With that done, that leaves the installation of the leg vise, which I still have to order and then finishing the table with light sanding and boiled linseed oil. So I am almost there. I will provide a more thorough summary once I’m completely done and I’ll do my best to address the shortcomings of the project along with where I could have done a better job. Suffice to say-it’s not ¬†been a perfect series of stages and I’m learning more than I ever could have hoped for.

And perhaps the most gratifying piece of the day was tightening that last clamp. The bench has a close to finished look even if it sits upside down at the moment and I was silently celebrating knowing that I had gotten over that last series of mortises.

Roubo’s Legs

I’ve been waiting on a couple tools to move this project along, namely a brace and a mortising chisel. For those of you who are perhaps too interested in the details you may have noticed a very nice Japanese bench chisel in the photos from the last post. It occurs to me now, that what I should ¬†have been using was a mortising chisel. Ah to be young and inexperienced. Now I have a good reason to order some Japanese water stones and learn how to properly sharpen a chisel.

But back to the project at hand. Since I am unable to drill the bench dog holes without a brace-I want to take care of those by hand-and since I’ve yet to get my epoxy and iron oxide powder to fill the checks, I went ahead and started work on the legs.

I purchased the legs over a year ago from a big box store and they were simply labeled “untreated landscaping timbers” of the 6″x6″ variety. They looked pretty rough but I dried them in the attic and then planed them down this summer. Today I cut them to length and sanded them down. The result is that each leg measures 5″x5″ and 35″ L.

This weekend I plan on actually cutting the sliding dovetails and tenons and possibly carving out the mortises in the bench itself if time permits.

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