Sunday, 17 January 2016

You can never have enough horizontal surfaces - A Roubo workbench

Normally woodworkers repeat the old maxim "You can never have enough clamps" well I do have enough. However one thing that I have been adding over the years is horizontal surfaces. I have
  • a snazzy low assembly table
  • a couple of workmates
  • a re-purposed mitre saw table
  • a router table
  • a table saw with a hardboard protective cover
  • a commercial workbench
all of which can be pressed into service when needed.

The issues I have with the Sjobergs workbench are:

  • it is not heavy enough when planing. It doesn't move around like some I have seen but still could do with more mass. 
  • the vises are not really fantastic but are adequate. They tend to crab if you clamp something at one end so I use a similar thickness spacer at the other end to prevent crabbing.
  • the dog holes are many but I probably use 10% of them
  • when the tail vise is used anything being clamped moves away from the top surface. I found this out early on so never use it in tail vise mode.

Good points with Sjobergs workbench

  • The top is made from beech and is great
  • The storage module is fantastic and I would replicate something like this on any replacement.


Like many in the 21st century I have decided to upgrade the bench to a split top Roubo workbench using Benchcrafted hardware (available in the UK from here). 

The plans I will be using will be those from Marc Spagnuolo's The Woodwhisperer Guild video series. I have been a member of the Guild since 2010 and this particular video series came from around 2011/2012.

Shop layout

I have modified my shop layout drawings on Sketchup and find that the old bench can still be incorporated as an additional surface if it is turned through 90 degrees and positioned on the west wall adjacent to its current position.
The new Roubo can go under the window if the table saw is moved eastwards. Then the router table will go into the centre of the shop. This will be more convenient as it always has to be moved when needed.
 Here is the current shop (west is at the top of the pictures)
The green square is a ceiling mounted air cleaner.
The black rectangle is a floor mat.
And below is the proposal for the new layout

New Roubo added
Old workbench repositioned
Router table in the centre of the shop area
Table saw moved in an easterly direction.

3D views

Everybody can visualize better in 3D so Sketchup is great for this. These pictures below show a representation in 3D looking from the assembly table located on the east wall.

This is the current layout of the left hand half of the shop.
The router table is closest to the camera

This is the proposal. The old workbench is furthest away
the router table is repositioned in the centre of the shop.
The beauty of this arrangement is the router table and old workbench can be used as outfeed table and supplemental support for infeed respectively when using the tablesaw. The old workbench will still be available as a bench for power-tools or another hand-tool bench. As they are both on mobile bases (the workbench is on jacked wheels) I can move them about anywhere in the shop. The possibilities are endless.

I've not decided on wood species yet for the Roubo but will be using the cheaper cast only Benchcrafted hardware. I will be using square dogs with a few 19mm dog holes for the attachments I currently have (holdfasts etc.).
All I have to do is work through my current work load to pay for the hardware and timber for the new workbench.

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