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Roubo Workbench – Bench Dogs

October 31, 2020 Leave a comment
<p class=”has-text-align-left” value=”<amp-fit-text layout=”fixed-height” min-font-size=”6″ max-font-size=”72″ height=”80″>Completing the installation of the wagon/tail vise is only half way towards a usable vise. There must be a structure that allows the vise to clamp down on a work piece. In the case of the wagon/tail vise there are bench dogs. Completing the installation of the wagon/tail vise is only half way towards a usable vise. There must be a structure that allows the vise to clamp down on a work piece. In the case of the wagon/tail vise there are bench dogs.
Handmade Bench Dog
<p class=”has-text-align-left” value=”<amp-fit-text layout=”fixed-height” min-font-size=”6″ max-font-size=”72″ height=”80″>Beginning with hand tools, I made the first dog to get the correct size and shape. Most of you know that the majority of my time is spent using hand tools, however I do have the option of power tools when it makes sense and with 14 pieces exactly the same making a jig and mass producing them is a better use of the little free time I have. I’ve probably used a router more on this bench project then the last 10 years in total and although it’s far from my most favorite tool it handles this job well. Beginning with hand tools, I made the first dog to get the correct size and shape. Most of you know that the majority of my time is spent using hand tools, however I do have the option of power tools when it makes sense and with 14 pieces exactly the same making a jig and mass producing them is a better use of the little free time I have. I’ve probably used a router more on this bench project then the last 10 years in total and although it’s far from my most favorite tool it handles this job well.

It took a bit of time assembling my router table, mostly spent looking for the assembly manual (hidden carefully in the box with my routers.) Next I assembled a jig using pallet wood from the construction dumpster next door. The design is from the WoodWhisperer, and it took an hour to put the jig together and rout the final shape for all of the Bench Dogs. Notice that the router produces a rounded shape rather then the squared off shape I made by hand. No worries they work just fine.

Categories: Roubo

Roubo Bench Tail Vise

October 26, 2020 1 comment

A year of waiting to woodwork has produced one lone thought, where the heck was I. Looking at the bench I recall a frantic weekend to put together as much as possible and carefully pack the benchcrafted parts. However remembering the step I was about to take is in a recess of my mind. One thing is clear, I need to complete the tail vise or Front vise before moving forward.

After some contemplation I set to work on the tail vise. It appeared to be a quicker installation and I’ve yet to determine the shape of the chop on the front vise. It took time a some final adjustment but I inserted the rails into mortises, adjusted the bolt holes and screwed it together.

Really happy to have the center punches to mark the holes. It’s one of those tools that aren’t essential but make a difference. I picked mine up at Lee,Valley but I think you can get them most woodworking stores.

Some work the the plane and saw and it’s all together.

Categories: Roubo

Bench Dog Design

January 5, 2020 5 comments

Wandered through an antique shop today and noticed several benches and tool chests. Typically I prefer junk stores since their pricing is reasonable and people understand what you are looking for and how it’s used. During my wanderings there were several benches, but the dogs on this bench caufgt my eye.

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Perhaps I should have looked at the price of the bench, but by the time I was in this part of the store sticker shock had worn off and I was in cruise mode. It’s a very nice bench with decent proportions and a couple of nice vises that worked well. I imagine this will ultimately end up in a kitchen somewhere.

The bench dogs were quite large and moved smoothly up and down. They were held in place by a thin piece of wire.

They did not appear to hve been used often but I can imagine the wire would eventually create a groove in the bench top. Don’t think I will change the design on my bench but always fun to look at options.

Categories: Roubo

Roubo Bench Top Attached

October 11, 2019 2 comments

Travel has gotten the best of me this year and projects that should take hours are taking weeks. I’ve put woodworking aside to spend time with family and my furry friends. Hobbes is sleeping now so I’m slipping out to attach the bench top.

With both sections of the top complete, I only have to cut the mortises to attach the top. A small task that took surprising little time. Again careful measurement was the key and handling the bench was a struggle. The weight of the bench is one of the reasons I gravitated towards it but it does present building challenges.

Categories: Roubo

Roubo End Cap

October 5, 2019 Leave a comment

The end cap on the Roubo Bench creates anxiety for most bench builders, I’m no different and procrastination built a simple dovetail into a crescendo. Although cherry is a soft wood, its beautiful color led me to using it for accent parts (chop, cap, pins, etc.) putting aside my fears I spent a long time marking out the various mortises, holes and finally the dovetail. No pictures for the blog, just pure focus. A couple of hours later and it was complete.

Many of you used hand drills to auger the holes. I used my drill press and was very thankful for the accuracy. Glad to have this behind me its time to place the top on the base.

Categories: Roubo

Bench Top

July 27, 2019 Leave a comment

The hardest part about this bench is maneuvering the lumber. As more and more parts are pieced together it becomes heavier. I think the photos below tell the story.

Joint, plane glue, repeat.

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Categories: Roubo

Dog Holes and Mistakes

July 23, 2019 2 comments

When choosing a new bench design the dog holes and integral dogs drew me to the Roubo. Planing boards is a pleasure except when you don’t have a great method to hold them on your bench. Paul Sellers’ is adept at using his front vice, and I admit it has worked well for narrow boards. I’ve also used boards positioned across the end of the vice as a planing stop. However the ability to use a tail vice and adjust to any board length has great appeal.

Most of you will notice that a router and template was used in this process. Before hand tool woodworking I did most of my work by machine and I still have most of them. You can’t beat machines for repetitive processes. Except when you stop paying attention and oops.

A little plug will take care of that. I routed one dog hole too far.

Categories: Roubo

Workbench History

July 12, 2019 Leave a comment

Let’s be clear in the first sentence, if you want a complete guide to workbenches, find Chris Schwarz. If you want plans and a video on how to build a simple effective bench see Paul Sellers’ series (I’ve used his bench, it is excellent). This blog is about my brief workbench history and what has worked for many years as an essential tool in my shop. It confirms that a workbench can be cheap, simple and very effective. There are no plans, but it’s simple enough that none are needed and it’s a little embarrassing how sloppy I’ve been with upgrades. It’s also a story of why I want to move on to a new bench.

The bench is built from a single sheet of 3/4 plywood and 2×4 pine. Lag bolts hold it together and screws keep the top and cross members in place. My father helped me build it when I was in my early teens. The top is a single sheet of plywood, doubled over and glued. It is screwed to a 2×4 frame with cross members.  The legs are single 2×4 and attach inside the top and bottom frames.

When Shannon Rogers began his Hand Tool School I quickly moved most of my Joinery to Hand Tools and recognized that the bench needed to be stiffened, grabbing some scrap I cut it to size a hammered it into place to stiffen the ends. I added a 2×4 to the legs at front which fit in between the upper and lower rails.

The small vise on the side was originally on front of the bench but now sits on the side and is perfect to hold my leather strop close by my work area. It also works as a planing clamp. Next I added a 2×4 under the bench to provide added depth for hold fasts. It’s a simple solution for a bench without the necessary thickness for them to work.

After attending Paul Sellers’ fundamentals of woodworking class I recognized the value of a larger vice so set about making modifications to the bench. This consisted of a board at the front, a couple of cross members and the vise became part of my tool set.

Many years later I admit that there is little that my current bench does not provide. The desire for a new work bench is purely for the challenge of the bench. So I began a journey to build a new bench and you will see it in the next several blogs.

Bell Forest Hardwoods

March 31, 2018 Leave a comment

Thinking about building a new workbench is a pastime for many woodworkers. It’s been on my mind for a few years and I have posted my thoughts a couple of times. In an attempt to spread the cost, last year I purchased hardware from Benchcrafted. This year the search for the perfect building materials began. Soft Maple, Hard Maple, Ash all come to mind; reading blogs and watching you tube there are many beautiful benches and thoughts on what’s best. There’s definitely no lack of opinion amongst woodworkers. The decision really came down to two factors, I prefer the look of maple, and soft maple is slightly easier to work. Since my tool cabinet and saw till are cherry the bench accents will also be cherry.

Two hardwood stores are within 45 minutes of my house and I’ve been to both over the last few years, they generally have what I need, but the pricing is very high. Shannon Rogers has frequently discussed lumber pricing and I am a huge believer in capitalism, if the prices I see are what the market will bare, so be it. Fortunately I travel a fair amount in my job and have been stopping at local lumber yards throughout the Midwest looking at alternatives while waiting for the weather to improve. A few weeks ago out of curiosity I had Bell Forest Products quote their Roubo Kit. My expectation was low that they would be competitive. Surprise, with shipping, straight line rip and Planing they were a few dollars cheaper!

The best part was yet to come…. Woodworker Guild Savings, and I happened to need to go to Northern Michigan University for a College Visit. Under the guise of touring colleges I ended up in Ishpeming Michigan. Exchanging a few emails with Eric at Bell Forest Products the deal was struck and date set for pick up.

I’ve read blogs and Instagram about the service and quality of the Lumber from Bell Forest Products and my skepticism faded long ago with the many comments. If any of you remain skeptics one visit and you will be sold. Over the last week Eric has sent a couple of emails updating me on my lumber status. The day before pickup he let me know it was there and waiting, pulling up and walking in the door I immediately felt welcome and comfortable. Given a choice I like to buy from people that I have met and build trust with. Mark Harrell at Bad Axe, Jason Thigpen at Texas Heritage Toolworks, all have built a reputation for quality service and I consider part of my woodworking family. I am certainly adding Eric Poirier and Bell Forest to this list.

Eric toured me around their shop and talked about their business, customer service and employees (there are eight). I was amazed that 90-95% of their business is through the internet and phone and is shipped across the country. We talked a lot about quality and expectations of customers. I think my daughter summed up the visit best “it’s really fun being around people who are passionate about what they do.” This is a direct quote.

A few photos of the lumber in their shop and the team packaging and getting shipments ready. It was a great visit and hopefully the first of many. If you are considering Bell Forest Products, don’t hesitate and if you can find an excuse to visit Northern Michigan it’s beautiful country with wonderful people. Eric, thanks for a great visit and I look forward to staying in touch.

Categories: Lumber, Roubo