Roubo, Jr. Workbench

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Step-by-step photos of my “Roubo Jr.” workbench build from July of 2014. This project took a full day in the shop and about $50 worth of lumber.  The goal was to create a traditional workbench on a smaller scale.  Hope you find the process interesting, and maybe build one of your own!

All photos and descriptions copyright Jason Sinco Woodworks 2014

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The prepared stock. I like to rip the rounded corners off of all my lumber. So, for this project we will need..

5 – 2x4x10
4 – 2x6x8
1 – 2x6x10
1 – 3/8″ dowel
lots and lots of glue and clamps

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Here I’ve laid out the top. The 10′ 2×4’s have been cut in half and ripped down to 3″ wide. This gives me a top that is 5’x15″x3″. You can see how the through mortises for the legs are created in this step. The board is cut to 40″, a 5″ gap is left, then a 5″ block is added to fill in the end. Now is the time to make sure the best edges of your boards are facing up.

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The glued and clamped top. This is a nerve wracking step, as you have to move quickly to get everything together before the glue starts to dry. You may want to glue up the top in sections. I, however, choose to live dangerously.

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With the top set aside to dry, it’s time to start on the legs. Each leg will be glued up from two boards to make it a beefy 3″x5″. They will need a through mortise to accept the bottom stretcher. Mill a dado 3/4″ deep and 3″ wide on the inside faces of the leg halves, with the dado starting 6″ from the bottom of the leg.

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Here we see how the leg is made up. One board is 32″ long and will project through the top. The other is 29″ long and will support the top. The two dados face each other to become the mortise, 1&1/2″x3″. Now glue it together. If all your clamps are tied up. you can use 2&1/2″ screws to hold it together while the glue dries, then remove them and plug the holes with dowels.

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On the insides of the legs, use a 1&1/2″ drill bit to mill out the mortise for the short stretchers. Carry the lines around from the side mortise to give you your measurements, and center it on the leg. One hole on each end and then one in between, and clean it up with a chisel. Leave the ends rounded and pare the tenon to match.

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The two 5′ long stretchers are cut from the 10′ 2×6, to give you enough length to pass through both legs. Cut the ends to make 3″ wide, 6″ long tenons. The measurement between the tenons is 40″, the same as the middle board on the mortise row in the top.

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The short stretchers. Start with a board 10&1/2″ long and lay out a 3/4″ long and 3″ wide tenon on each end. Carefully saw in on the corners of the tenon at the base, then knock them off with a chisel.

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Pare away with the chisel to round off the tenon.

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By the time you’ve done all that, the top should be dry. Take it out of the clamps, get out your sharpest jack plane and your can of elbow grease, and plane that sucker! You can make it as flat and straight and true as you feel you need to.

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The top after a good 10 minutes of planing. Give the bottom side a few swipes with the plane too. Now you can trim up the ends. I use a circular saw with a fence.

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While you’ve got the plane out, trim up the legs and test fit them.
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 Assemble the legs and stretchers. Use plenty of glue in the mortises and on the tenons. Do your best to make sure everything stays square.
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Drop on the top. It should be a tight fit. Glue in the mortises and on the tenons again, and once you get the tenons all lined up the fun begins. My preferred method is picking up one end and dropping it a few times, then doing the same on the other end, back and forth till the top seats itself.
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Drill a hole through the face of the top and the leg tenon and glue in a dowel peg. This pins everything together. Do the same at the bottom of the leg, going through the long stretcher’s tenon and into the short stretcher.

Bonus Round: Add a vise

 I decided to go with a leg vise, because I had the stuff laying around to make one and it’s what i’m used to on my other bench (Roubo Sr.)  This one is easy to make yourself, or you could go with an aftermarket vise.  I’ve also seen some nifty shop-made vises using pipe clamps.  As always, Google is your friend.
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Here you can see that it takes a vise to make a vise. Cutting the threads on a 1&1/2″ dowel to make the vise screw.
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Using the tap that came with the thread cutter, I made this octagonal piece from some maple I had to fit on the screw. Thread the screw through it right up to the top. Put a little glue on the last couple of threads and it shouldn’t be going anywhere.
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Another tapped piece, this one on the back of the leg. It’s easier to do this way than to try to force the cheap tap through three inches of leg.
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The vise part of the leg vise. It’s just a board with a hole in it really.
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 The finished bench. Final dimensions 5′ long by 32″ tall by 15″ deep. Heavy enough to provide a sturdy work surface but light enough for one person to shove around a shop.
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At this point you can add dog holes, holdfast holes, a planing stop, a shelf… whatever suits your needs.  A great bench for tight spaces or as a second work station.



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