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Thread: Split top Roubo bench build

  1. #1

    Split top Roubo bench build

    Hi folks, so I am finally building a proper bench and looking for some opinions on a few things.

    First thing is bench depth, I started out in furniture making but spent most of my years doing cabinetry and Architectural woodwork so I am having a hard time wrapping my head around a 24” bench however I can’t really go over 30” anyways and I am only building furniture now. My current bench is 30” but I cut it down to 24” and i am liking it but hard to tell unless I spend more time, I will be building the bench before I have enough time on it...

    I am leaning to 24” simply because 30” ain’t that much bigger and thinking when I do need more than 24” the 30” wouldn’t have been big enough either, am I missing something here?

    The other thing, split top - I like the idea of being able to clamp in the middle of the bench, working a drawer box or “L” shaped part by using the gap I also like the 2 separate tops from a build/handling perspective.

    I won’t ever want to park tools in the gap stop (am a tool tray hater) or use it as a hook in the other direction, I know I could make a solid removable infill but knowing me I would just leave it out all the time so is having that gap an issue, here is my simpleton example I don’t build chairs but I could see that gap being a pain, like you have it on the bench you are scooting it around and the leg drops in the gap. So other than the chair (if even an issue, well guess not - I don’t build chairs ��) or crap falling into the gap.

    Thoughts and experience appreciated, Mark

    https://www.instagram.com/kessler_woodworks/?hl=en
    Last edited by Mark e Kessler; 05-06-2020 at 4:16 PM.

  2. #2
    The infill technique works pretty well, I did it on my split-top and would do it again. A popular option is to allow it to sit proud of the surface in order to let it serve as a plane/sanding/whatever stop. It's also handy to build it with tool holes.

    20200506_160352.jpg

    I'm pretty sure that I got these ideas from the Samurai Carpenter's bench project.

  3. #3
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    A workbench is rarely used as a large scale assembly table.

  4. #4
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    You should design your workbench top to meet your needs based on how you work and with what you work. Folks who are into heavy hand tool use have different requirements than folks like me who use hand tools, but only for finesse work or when they are the best choice for a particular project refinement. A split bench or one with a tool tray would drive me bonkers, but they are the bee's knees for some other woodworker. My new benchtop is 1660mm x 775mm which is a hair longer than 60" and a hair narrower than 30". It suits my needs but wouldn't be right for many other folks for sure.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
    It sounds like all you personally would need is the ability to clamp in the middle of the table. If that's the case, you can use bench dog holes and clamp wherever you'd like. If you think you'll need to clamp really tall stuff and don't want to buy 3' bench dogs, cut some rectangular holes in there and you can snake in a regular clamp.

  6. #6
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    I have a split top and do have a sliding tray between the two tops to hold my odd-shaped, kind of bulky marking gauges near by but below the top level. That works for me, others (like you) don't want one at all. Understood. I do clamp down between the slot at times and enjoy having that capability. How about leaving a gap between the two split tops and making up a solid gap filler (level with the split tops and without any tool slots, etc)) that fits snugly to give you a flat, uninterrupted surface but also with the capability to remove it and use the slot as needed for clamping.
    David

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark e Kessler View Post
    I am leaning to 24” simply because 30” ain’t that much bigger and thinking when I do need more than 24” the 30” wouldn’t have been big enough either, am I missing something here?
    My workbench is about 24 inches wide, because that's what's practical in my space. Mostly, it works fine but there are a fair number of times where several more inches really would be an advantage, most commonly when using the bench as a work surface to clamp up something like a door assembly or multi-board glue-up. Not infrequently these are right around two feet in width and longer in length, and so exceed the capacity of the bench after taking account of the extra couple inches needed each side to support the clamps. ...My ideal would be to skip the bench and do these operations on a big dedicated assembly table instead, but that's not an option for now.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Eisenhauer View Post
    I have a split top and do have a sliding tray between the two tops to hold my odd-shaped, kind of bulky marking gauges near by but below the top level. That works for me, others (like you) don't want one at all. Understood. I do clamp down between the slot at times and enjoy having that capability. How about leaving a gap between the two split tops and making up a solid gap filler (level with the split tops and without any tool slots, etc)) that fits snugly to give you a flat, uninterrupted surface but also with the capability to remove it and use the slot as needed for clamping.
    I have the same set up on mine. And if it helps at all my bench is 26" wide. Some days it could be wider but those days are few for me.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Coers View Post
    A workbench is rarely used as a large scale assembly table.
    Unless you are space constrained. I have a small shop and the workbench is the only assembly area I have.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Eisenhauer View Post
    I have a split top and do have a sliding tray between the two tops to hold my odd-shaped, kind of bulky marking gauges near by but below the top level. That works for me, others (like you) don't want one at all. Understood. I do clamp down between the slot at times and enjoy having that capability. How about leaving a gap between the two split tops and making up a solid gap filler (level with the split tops and without any tool slots, etc)) that fits snugly to give you a flat, uninterrupted surface but also with the capability to remove it and use the slot as needed for clamping.
    My bench is a near clone of Bob Langs 21st Century workbench in PWW. This bench is a split top with open boxes for storage. These can also be flipped to provide solid top. I normally have some open and some flipped. Kind of a best-of-both-worlds solution.

    20200507_090055.jpg
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  11. #11
    Good feed back from everyone so far, I kinda like the lang design with the three removable trays, but I think I am gona stick with the 24 wide and prollY about 90 long, gap at about 2 and probably wait to make an infill after I see how i use the bench


    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Tymchak View Post
    My bench is a near clone of Bob Langs 21st Century workbench in PWW. This bench is a split top with open boxes for storage. These can also be flipped to provide solid top. I normally have some open and some flipped. Kind of a best-of-both-worlds solution.

    20200507_090055.jpg

  12. #12
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    On center insert:

    On my bench it's mostly kept aside during a project. I find the gap useful for clamps. When I built my bench I thought it would be useful but so far it has not served any use.

    On width:

    I made my bench 24" wide based on what I read online. Before that I had a makeshift general purpose bench that was 32" wide.

    Whenever I will remake my bench, I will make it longer, single laminated slabbed and little less wider. I find width does not really add anything for my purpose. And split makes it a little difficult to flatten.
    Last edited by Anuj Prateek; 05-08-2020 at 12:58 PM.

  13. #13
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    I've had a 25" wide, 8' long Roubo for about 10 years. I'm going to build a new one this fall. I've wanted it to be longer (10') but never wider. I'll pull the new one into 24" wide and go 9-10' long. I'd like more space for a tail vise and have a moxon clamped up at the same time. I also have my hand mitre saw on a bench hook type platform so I end up with a lot of junk on my bench at once.

    I can't think of a scenario in which I ever wanted the split top, I just use hold fasts to make a ledge if I need it.

  14. #14
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    I think Jim Becker pretty much nailed it. It depends on what on you are making and what tools you reach for. Height of bench top is going to vary with the above and your body's height.

    You sound pretty ok with your current 24 inch depth/width. What is it about your current bench that you don't like exactly? Not long enough? Can't clamp in the middle? Too rickety? Not enough weight?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    You should design your workbench top to meet your needs based on how you work and with what you work. Folks who are into heavy hand tool use have different requirements than folks like me who use hand tools, but only for finesse work or when they are the best choice for a particular project refinement. A split bench or one with a tool tray would drive me bonkers, but they are the bee's knees for some other woodworker. My new benchtop is 1660mm x 775mm which is a hair longer than 60" and a hair narrower than 30". It suits my needs but wouldn't be right for many other folks for sure.
    Wise words from what-his-name

    Mark, the only area is which Jim and I differ is that he is primarily power tool-based and I am primarily hand tool-based. My bench is the heart of my workshop, where I build furniture to my own designs.

    I have a Roubo, which is about 12" away from the wall. I store all my marking tools on the wall, and bench planes in cabinets above. I need to be able to reach across the bench and, as a result, the bench is 22 wide. I would only consider wider if the bench was accessed from both sides, and I used it that way. I like the width it is, and find it perfect - I have not felt the need for anything wider.

    My bench top is solid, not split. Like Jim, I think that would drive me nuts. If I needed a clamp in the centre, I would either use a caul, or I would pass a clamp through a dog hole (there are a few in the middle of the bench).

    My tool tray is a design I came up with that serves me very well. Instead of being attached to the bench, it is attached to the wall. This means I can reach it, and it is out of the way when I clamp across the bench (plus I can pull the bench away from the wall if necessary).

    Work holding is important, but it can be quite personal. What works for me is a leg vise (I built this with a wooden thread but, if I was doing it again, I would get the BenchCrafted metal screw). The leg vise is used for jointing long boards. I have the BenchCrafted wagon vise (for planing faces on the bench) Absolutely love it!. I have the world best Moxon dovetail vise. This deals with all dovetailing needs. There are a number of other work holding accessories I have built over the years. Yell out if you want photos.

    My bench is about 80" long and 34" high. I am about 5'10".



    Leg vise with chain drive ...







    Plenty big for assembly ...



    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Last edited by Derek Cohen; 05-09-2020 at 6:45 AM.

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