I’ve been deep in the minutiae of workbenches for some time now, it’s been one of more extensive rabbit holes I’ve travelled down. I’ve poured over all the books, have read countless build threads and I think I’ve reached a point where I have a clear idea of what I want for my own. Initially, I was really drawn to Chris Schwarz’s cherry slab roubo, to my eye’s it was just about perfect except it was a little on the small side. It has a purposeful honesty about it, whereas the more popular “benchcrafted” style benches come across as more cold and clinical. My plans changed when I stumbled across 1stdibs.com, which is a veritable treasure trove of workbench design ideas. And it was there where I found it, a french bench with perfect proportions, a design which sang to me across the centuries, and It’s the one I will build. It differs from the modern roubo interpretation in a few ways. Its front stretchers are inset and not flush, It has drawers, lacks the dovetail tenon and has an overall wider stance than most. I’ll need to make a few modifications of my own, I’ll add upper support stretchers , a quick release tail vise, a shelf to the underside and will thicken the top somewhat. It feels good to be able to stop searching, no more endless research, it’s just time to build.
If all goes well the shop should be up and running in a couple weeks. An electrician will be by to install a 100amp sub-panel tomorrow, which leaves me with the dust collection ducting to figure out. Haven’t quite decided on whether to use 24g stove pipe single wall duct or to go with sewer piping. The sewer piping is difficult to find around these parts, it seems 6” diameter is only sold wholesale to the plumbing trades…
I’ve landed on machine placement, the layout below seems to have the best feng-shui, however these things tend to change in practice.
Once complete it’ll be time to start prepping stock for the roubo build.
I managed to drag two of the six walnut beams into my shop yesterday. A few passes with a hand plane gave me my first look at what was waiting for me. A few checks and cracks but nothing that can’t be stabilized. Moisture is a little on the high side but it’ll come down over the next few weeks. Building this Roubo will be an exercise in timberframing before cabinetry. I still have a lot of decisions to mull over… face or edge grain for the top, cabinets below or open space… who can I trick or bribe into helping me rip them down on the bandsaw.
It’s been a while since I’ve written here and much has changed. We now have two little ones in our life and have made the great trek back to Ontario after our experiment in B.C. We have a few acres of land here and a house with ample space for our growing family; something which was an impossibility for us in Vancouver. It’ll be a long winter but building a new workshop should keep me plenty busy.