I was planning to make a. . .good, fast, cheap workbench, as I think Bob Key called his design some years ago: fir or pine legs and top, Record face vise, and. . .well, some sort of end vise. Then, after I used it for a year or two, make another bench with hardwood, perhaps a poor man’s version of the Frank Klausz bench, something with a shoulder and a tail vise.
But your Roubo bench has me confused–in a good way. I want to work almost exclusively with hand tools, and I have loved the look and idea of a leg vise since the first time I saw one (a photo). I cannot, however, out here in California, find yellow pine, and I am not thrilled with fir as the top of a bench (too splintery).
Do you think an older woodworker should make a cheap bench first? If not. . . ?
Bob Key’s design is quite good. In fact, I tried to get him to publish it with us in 1999. Then he kind of fell off the map.
I like softwood benches. They don’t move much one they are acclimated. And they are easy to flatten. So I have no qualms about the design or the material. It might be your last bench after all.
I built a fir bench years ago while working in California. I actually liked the material. The only problem I found was that fir is sometimes sold fairly wet at home centers. We got soaked while cutting it, and it rusted some tools.
One thing you might consider: Buying fir 4x4s for the top and legs. There would be far fewer glue-ups than if you bought 2x material.
Hope this helps.
– Christopher Schwarz