How to Build a Roubo Workbench
The Roubo workbench, named after the 18th-century French craftsman and author André-Jacob Roubo, is a staple in the woodworking world. It’s known for its simplicity, sturdiness, and versatility. Building one yourself can be an enjoyable and rewarding process if you follow these steps.
1. Gather materials and tools
To build a Roubo workbench, you will need:
– Hardwood lumber (e.g., maple, oak, or beech)
– Wood glue
– Long and short dowels
– Wooden screws
– Leg Vise hardware
– Wooden bench dogs
For tools, you will need:
– Table saw
– Miter saw
– Hand saw
– Drill press (or hand drill with various bits)
– Chisel set
– Clamps (bar clamps and C-clamps)
– Planes (hand plane or jointer plane)
– Rasp/File set
2. Create the workbench top
The workbench top is typically 4 to 6 inches thick, with a length of about 8 feet and a width of about 24 inches. You can adjust these measurements as needed.
a. Cut the hardwood lumber into pieces with the table saw to appropriate size.
b. Arrange the cut lumber into a coherent pattern for gluing.
c. Glue the lumber pieces together using wood glue and clamp them securely.
d. Once the glue has dried, use the hand plane or jointer plane to ensure that the benchtop is entirely flat.
3. Build the legs
A typical Roubo workbench has four legs made from thick hardwood.
a. Cut hardwood pieces for legs of equal length.
b. Use a miter saw to create square ends on each leg.
c. Drill mortises in the legs using a drill press or hand drill for attaching stretchers.
4. Create the stretchers and tenons
Stretchers provide support to the workbench and connect the legs.
a. Cut hardwood pieces for the short and long stretchers.
b. Use a handsaw to create tenons on either end of each stretcher.
c. Fit stretchers and legs together with tenons and mortises, then glue them in place using wood glue.
5. Assemble the base
a. Attach short stretchers to one set of legs, then another set to create two leg assemblies.
b. Connect the two leg assemblies with long stretchers to complete your workbench base.
6. Attach the workbench top
a. Position the workbench top on the base so that it is centered and flush.
b. Drill holes for long dowels through the benchtop and into the tops of each leg.
c. Glue wooden dowels in place as fasteners securing the benchtop.
7. Install a leg vise
a. Choose a leg for installing your vise hardware.
b. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for attaching vise hardware to the selected leg.
c. Install wooden screws for smooth movement.
8. Install bench dogs
a. Drill evenly spaced holes throughout your workspace for bench dogs’ insertion points.
b. Insert wooden bench dogs into these holes for holding workpieces securely in place during tasks.
9. Perform final touches
a. Sand your Roubo workbench until smooth, focusing on sharp corners and edges.
b. Apply a finish or sealant, such as tung oil or polyurethane, to protect your workbench from moisture and dirt.
With your new Roubo workbench completed, you’re ready to tackle various woodworking projects with ease and confidence!