Chris Schwarz's Blog

Bench Update: The Top is Together, and I Need a Haircut

The workbench that we’re building for Woodworking in America (and Megan’s study) is also the workbench we’ll be building next year at Kelly Mehler’s School of Woodworking May 16-21 in Berea, Ky. It’s coming together quickly (it has to, really) and quite well.

The bench combines the cool (and bombproof) sliding dovetail/mortise joint from the original bench shown in Andre Roubo’s plate 11, but it is full of machine-based trickery to make the bench easy to build.

What makes this bench work is that the top is made from four pieces that are 5″ wide that are joined to legs that are 5″ x 5″ square. Thanks to the three seams in the top, we can sneak a lot of the difficult joinery into the top using power tools before assembly. 

I roughed in the dovetail and mortise with a dado stack, then Megan and I cut the final dovetail shape on the exterior joints and then she cut the mating tenons and male-tails on the tops of the legs using a band saw and handsaws.

Tuesday I used a dado stack to make the mortise for the bench’s planing stop. Then I drilled all the dog holes in the front lamination (and the holdfast holes in the front right leg). Then we began laminating the four top pieces together.

We began with the center two boards. Though we have a big jointer and planer, these joints needed to be cleaned up by hand to get them flat across their width and true along their length (which is more than 6′). With the center lamination complete, we added the front lamination after lunch. We masked off the areas for the joinery with blue tape so we didn’t get glue where we didn’t want it.

When the glue was dry we added the rear lamination and began work on the front chop for the leg vise. We’re using the Benchcrafted Glide vise (finally!), and it requires some planning and precision drilling for a tidy job.

We started adding some wacky fractions and that was enough to make us slink back to our computers.

Wednesday or Thursday we hope to get the base together , Megan wants to put some frills on the bench at the next stage. We’ll see if I can stomach the lace curtains she has planned.

– Christopher Schwarz

New Bench Stuff You Should be Reading

– Jameel Abraham at Benchcrafted is going to drop a bomb at Woodworking in America next week when he shows off something he built. He sent me photos. Dang. Just dang. Get a little more information from his blog.

– Very shortly (tomorrow), our marketing people will end the pre-sale of the new “The Workbench Design Book.” If you are waiting for Amazon.com to pick this up and discount the living snot out of it, don’t hold your breath. This book will be available only through us and Lee Valley Tools until at least next year. Just trying to save you a few dollars and a few millimeters of stomach lining.

10 thoughts on “Bench Update: The Top is Together, and I Need a Haircut

  1. Rob Cameron

    Loving this Roubo…hopefully this will be my next bench (despite that post from Chris where he hopes we don’t build it?!) 😉 Are you guys going to have any article/video/photo essay about building it the machine way? It’d be neat to have the two methods for comparison. Although maybe this post alone contains all the info we’d need…

  2. Christopher Schwarz

    Anthony,

    Much to my wife’s chagrin, I am teaching a lot in 2011. More than I ever have before.

    In the Southeast, I’ll be teaching a couple classes at the Woodcraft in Georgia and one or two classes at Roy Underhill’s school in North Carolina.

    I’ll be posting the full schedule after WIA. Thanks for asking.

  3. Dean

    Your bench parts look similar to what I see in Timber Frame joinery & Post and Beam construction. Have you thought about using some of the tools for timber frame joinery? There are a lot of suppliers on the web. You should be able to rent the tools or if you know someone then borrow them.

    Timber frame tools (including chisels) are more appropriately sized for the size of beams you and Megan are working on. Also, you might rent or borrow a chain mortiser for hogging out large waste areas or if there’s a need, creating a large mortise. Just a thought or two. They also have tools to drill large holes part way or all the way through large beams. How about a 16-5/16 Inch Circular Saw?

  4. Anthony

    Chris,
    You mention the Kelly Mehler class next year. Will you be teaching any other classes next year? Maybe in the Southeast?

    Btw, I think you should bring WIA to Greenville, SC within the next few years. I think you’ll find a lot has changed since you lived here.

    Thanks,
    Anthony

  5. Randy

    Aloha,
    I don’t mean to offend any purists out there but, (after looking at your pictures) if faced with the exact same timber I’d probably rip it into thirds (because of the splitting), glue, and counter sink lag bolts. So I’d have flush cut against the tennons, and mitered cuts for the dovetails. Of course you’d have to assemble that part with the legs so the clamps can draw the the joints tight. The tennons on the leg’s well they’ll have to be from the same piece.

    At any rate keep it going, and love the up-dates.

    Aloha
    Randy

  6. Christopher Schwarz

    I need a haircut. I look like sasquatch and will be appearing on television to promote WIA next week.

    Chris

    BTW, Megan does not look like sasquatch. Just want to be clear about that.

Comments are closed.