If Roubo and Holtzapffel Designed Workbenches
Reader Wendell Wilkerson is designing a workbench and has combined elements of the Roubo-style Workbench from Issue 4 and the Holtzapffel Workbench from Issue 8. I think it looks a lot like the Dominy workbench at Winterthur (if you took off the iron end vise). He has a couple good questions, which are below, but I also wanted to share his Google SketchUp drawing above and give you a link to a SketchUp drawing of the Holtzapffel. Plus, Wendell has graciously agreed to post his SketchUp drawing of the bench shown above:
Question: I always knew procrastination would pay off someday. I never got around to building the Roubo bench. If I had, I would’ve have been upset after seeing the Holtzapffel bench. I was always drawn to benches with twin-screw front vises, and the Holtzapffel bench finally clinched it for me. I ordered my wooden bench screws pretty much as soon as you posted Stephen Fee’s e-mail on WoodCentral. Luckily for you, I used my tool allowance to buy them so WivesAgainstSchwarz won’t be getting involved, this time!
Anyway I put together a Google SketchUp model of what I want to build. I am planning to use Southern yellow pine (SYP) for the whole bench so I married the Holtzapffel top and vises to the Roubo base. Assuming I get 1-1/4″-thick boards of the SYP construction lumber, the Roubo base dimensions looked easier to put together. I will freely admit that I wimped out and decided to add upper end stretchers to the base so I can screw the top to the base rather than mortise it. In putting the model together, I came up with some questions:
Question 1: My main concern is the vise I plan to use for the end vise. I have a 7″ Record vise that I bought when Lee Valley was closing them out. Do you think there would be any issue with using this vise instead of its larger sibling that you used? In my drawing, I worked out a chop size that would avoid the dog holes going over the legs, but using 3-3/8″ spacing I couldn’t avoid the upper end stretcher I added. Related question: Which do you like better , the wagon vise you added to the Roubo bench or the end vise on the Holtzapffel?
Answer: On the end vise, a smaller vise is fine. Just do everything you can to keep the line of dog holes in your top as close to the front edge as possible. About 4″ is the maximum distance. Anywhere between 3″ to 4″ would be fine. I hope you can use a quick-release vise in that position because that is one place where a quick-release really shines.
As to the wagon vise v. iron vise question, I like the extra support provided by the wagon vise, but I like the quick and easy installation of the iron vise. Were I to build another bench (shudder), I’d use the iron vise in the tail position again.
Question 2: I am planning to make my bench 8′ long, 2′ longer than your Holtzapffel. With the added length, do think you think it would be useful to add the deadman back into the design? The nuts for the face vise block about one third of the distance between the front legs but there is about 38″ from the right end of the face vise to the right leg.
Answer: With the extra length of your benchtop, I would add the deadman back in, just as you’ve done on your drawings. That will be an awesome setup.
3) How much extra thickness do you generally add when you’re gluing up thinner stock to make your bench parts? I am particularly interested in your strategy for the top since reducing by hand is about the only option once it is glued up.
Answer: On the lamination question, I usually add about 1/4″ to 3/8″ extra in width to each board when laminating a top. That might be a little heavier than needed. But I’d rather end up with a slightly over-thick top. It will get thinner as the years progress.