TWK Split Top Roubo Workbench: The Top

Starting with the top is probably the best approach. While its great if you can follow plans exactly, in the case of a workbench they’re used more as a minimum or as a guideline. For example, my plans call for an 80mm thick top – this accounts for the nature of construction grade material where you may need to remove a fair bit to get it all flat and square. However, if you can get thicker, great, no need to cut it down to 80mm. If you started with the legs first, but ended up with a thicker top you’d either have to thickness down the top or cut the legs down anyway to get your desired height.

Cut to length

Because 5.4m lengths won’t fit in the car, I had Bunnings cut everything down to 2m. Thats plenty oversize so I can actually square up both ends – its very rare for any home centre to be able to cut things square!

All my benchtop timber laid out
All my benchtop timber laid out
Cutting to length
Cutting to length

Once everything was squared up (yet still a little bit oversized), I took it to the jointer and flattened once face and one edge. The edges don’t really need to be square just yet, but it does give me a good reference surface later for when I put the dominoes in.

 

Jointing one edge, not strictly needed, but makes it easier
Jointing one edge, not strictly needed, but makes it easier

After one edge and one face was flattened, it went through the thicknesser to get both faces flat and parallel.

Laminate

While its not strictly needed, I used 6mm Dominos in each piece before glueup to stop any vertical movement while clamping up. That much glue surface with that many clamps slides around like crazy, so a little extra insurance doesn’t go astray. If you have a biscuit jointer or doweling jig, they would work just as well. If you don’t, it’s not the end of the world. You can use use some gluing cauls or just do it in several glue ups to make it more manageable.

Dominoes to stop vertical movement when clamping
Dominoes to stop vertical movement when clamping

I used Titebond III for the glue in the lamination, not for its water proof properties, but because it has a slightly longer open time. This gives me a bit more time to get all the clamps on and everything aligned. In other sections of this build I used some Titebond Extend, but I didn’t have it at this stage of the build.

For this volume its easiest to pour out and use a roller to spread glue
For this volume its easiest to pour out and use a roller to spread glue

Cleanup

This was probably pushing the capabilities of the combo machine, but it handled it just fine. Each slab is about 303mm, while the max capacity of the thicknesser is 305mm. I cut that a little close. I only cleaned up the underside – the top side will be cleaned up and flattened after the bench is constructed, using a router in a slab flattening sled. Flattening the underside makes it possible to accurately lay out the joinery, however.

Skip planing the underside
Skip planing the underside

I had deliberately set the Domino to the widest setting for ease of assembly, this still stops vertical movement, but not horizontal, meaning the lamination layers were a little bit staggered.

To bring both slabs to the same length, I clamped them together and used the tracksaw to cut through. As my blade is getting a bit dull, I did two passes per side per end, flipping after two passes to get the full depth of cut needed.

Cutting the slabs to length
Cutting the slabs to length

 

Divider

The outfeed table I made last week was specifically made to resaw this divider, and it worked admirably for that.

Stage one resawing the divider
Stage one resawing the divider

I cut about 30mm high into the divider along its short edge, flipped it, repeated, then flipped it end for end and repeated that process, leaving me with four sizeable cuts. This is much cleaner and quicker than just using the bandsaw.

Finishing the resaw with the bandsaw
Finishing the resaw with the bandsaw

Using the bandsaw to finish it off is much safer, and with the kerf lines from the tablesaw makes it really easy to follow the lines.

Gluing the divider up
Gluing the divider up

Once it was resawn I cut out the ‘divisions’ using the cross cut sled, and then could glue it back together. I could have started with three thinner boards, but this way I get a nice grain match all the way along.

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  • Jams Shop

    Looking good, Paul! Quick question: Do you have a link to that square you used to line up and square the ends? I’ve been looking for one that has that little reference piece to make sure it’s 90 degrees to your work piece. Woodpeckers sells one but it’s super expensive…

  • Its just a “regular” framing square, with a “Veritas Square Fence” attached to it. Any brand framing square will do (none that I know of are too thick to fit in), mine happens to be a cheap Spear & Jackson. http://www.veritastools.com/Products/Page.aspx?p=146 I see you’re in Texas from your profile, but most wood working stores (or Lee Valley) will carry it.