Split-Top Roubo Workbench

Marc Spagnuolo

The Split-Top Roubo Workbench is a modern twist on the classic Roubo design, inspired by Plate 11 of Andre Roubo's L'Art du Menuisier. This is a time-tested design will serve as a lifetime workbench and will never need to be replaced. Whether you're into hand tools, power tools, or both, this bench will serve all of your work-holding needs. This project is for the workbench only and does not include the cabinet. You can purchase that project here.

The bench measures 87" Long x 24" Deep x 35" High.

  • 27 lessons
  • 626 min
  • $79.00

Here's what we'll cover:

  1. Introduction & Project Tour

    The Split-Top Roubo journey starts here! Materials, hardware, and tools.

  2. Project Tour (Old Version)

    A close look at the Split-Top Roubo project and plans.

  3. Why My Workbench Sucks

    A quick look at my old workbench and why I feel it is inadequate for my current needs.

  4. Bench Profile: Aaron Marshall

    A close look at Aaron Marshall’s Heavy Duty Hideaway Workbench!

  5. Bench Profile: Jeremy Gauthier

    A tour of Jeremy’s workbench, inspired by Fine Woodworking’s Monster Workbench.

  6. Bench Profile: Tom Iovino

    Tom’s workbench is a utilitarian creation that gets the job done!

  7. Wood Selection

    Everything you need to know to make an informed decision on the wood for your workbench as well as buying strategies.

  8. Milling

    How to mill the stock for your Roubo workbench.

  9. Top Construction

    With the pieces for the top cut, its time to glue those suckers together! The bench top emerges!

  10. The Slab Tenon & The Screw Cavity

    The slabs are cut to length, the tenon is created and the tail vise screw cavity is excavated.

  11. The End Cap

    For such a small piece, the end cap plays a large role in the function of our tail vise. Time to dust off that drill press!

  12. The Dog Hole Strip

    Square and round dog holes both have their merits. But if you’re going square, prepare to do a little more work!

  13. The Dovetails

    Cutting these massive dovetails is a breeze with this clever system!

  14. The Tail Vise & The Dogs

    Finishing up the tail vise installation and making classic square dogs!

  15. The Legs

    This bench has some beefy legs! Mortising, tenoning, and drilling, This video covers it all!

  16. The Rails

    The rails receive tenons, grooves, and holes for the drawbore pegs!

  17. The Leg Vise Pt. 1 (Old Version)

    The entire leg vise installation occurs before the bench is assembled. Lots of cutting, drilling and tapping to do!

  18. The Leg Vise Pt. 2 (Old Version)

    The roller brackets and an acetal bushing complete the installation of our leg vise.

  19. Glide & Criss Cross Installation

    The leg vise hardware is installed while the leg is still separated from the workbench.

  20. Base & Top Assembly

    Assembling the base, attaching the top, and making your own pegs/dowels for the drawboring technique!

  21. Top Flattening with Hand Tools

    Shannon Rogers takes us through the process of flattening a workbench the traditional way.

  22. Top Flattening with a Router

    Flattening the bench top with a router and a specialized jig.

  23. Loose Ends

    Dog relief hole, sliding deadman, gap stop, the shelf, holdfast holes, trimming the vice chop, and suede treatments.

  24. Finishing & The Pin Handle

    After turning a tool handle for the parallel guide pin, it’s time to apply our finish to the bench. She’s a beauty!

  25. How To Use The Split-Top Roubo

    A bench is only as good as our ability to use it. So let’s dig into some of the basic work-holding operations we can perform using our new Split Top Roubo!

  26. Criss Cross Retro-Fit

    Replace the traditional parallel guide system with the new Benchcrafted Crisscross!

  27. Glide M/C Retro-Fit

    How to retro-fit your Split Top Roubo with the latest Benchcrafted Glide hardware.

What do the videos cover?

  • Construction of a permanent Split Top Roubo workbench (NOT the knock-down version). The cabinet is a separate build available here.
  • Installation of the Glide leg vise and the Criss Cross Retro (Yes, you want the Retro even though this is a new installation).
  • Installation of the Benchcrafted Tail Vise.
  • For folks who purchased the old Benchmaker’s package when this series first launched, we cover the installation of an older generation Parallel Guide.
  • For folks that built their bench when I did and want to upgrade, we show the retro-fit of both the Criss-Cross and the new Glide.

How much will the total build cost?

We can’t give you an exact number since wood prices vary dramatically and Benchcrafted may change their prices. For the wood, call around and get pricing for approximately 150 BF of 8/4 lumber. Or consider picking up a package from Bell Forest Products.

For the hardware, you’ll want to pick up a Split-Top Roubo Benchmaker’s Package  from Benchcrafted. Please make sure you select the Criss-Cross Retro kit since our videos do not show the installation of the Solo kit.

The Hardware

Technically, you can install any hardware you want into this bench. The bench doesn’t care. Just be sure to consult the manufacturer’s manual and adjust the plan accordingly.  For my bench, I chose Benchcrafted hardware. This includes a Glide vise, the Criss-Cross Retro mechanism, and the Tail Vise.

*Important* Benchcrafted upgrades their hardware frequently and we do our best to keep this series up to date. Usually the changes are minor but it’s a good idea to watch the videos from start to finish while looking at your actual hardware kits.

Can a beginner make this bench?
Most of the demands of this project are physical. These big boards are not easy to move around alone. Some skill is required to complete the joinery tasks but if you are good at taking instructions, the videos will show you every single step in the process. There are some folks who made this workbench their very first woodworking project. While this is awesome to see, I think most people will be the happiest building this workbench after they have a couple projects under their belt.

Can I use different hardware?
Yes, but this is not covered in the video series. You can simply ignore the hardware installation sections of the series and instead focus on the particular manufacturer’s instructions. Even without the Benchcrafted hardware, this workbench is a sturdy beast that will happily accept any hardware you choose to install.

Important Notes

  • The Benchcrafted BC bench makers package comes with hardware for the knockdown version of the workbench. We do not cover the knock-down version in this build. If you want to make the knock-down version, you’ll want to refer to the Benchcrafted plans as they require a thicker 12/4 front rail and a different mortise and tenon joint in the front left leg.
  • This build covers the installation of the Criss Cross Retro kit. Even though it’s called Retro, this kit can be installed in a new build and in fact, it’s the less finicky installation option. We do not recommend buying the Solo kit. If you do choose the Solo kit, please refer to the installation instructions that come with the hardware and only use our installation video for general reference.
  • When you buy the Bench Maker’s Package from Benchcrafted, it will come with a set of paper plans for the Split-Top Roubo. These plans are very similar to ours but there are a few differences. It’s dangerous to use BOTH sets of plans so feel free to peruse their plans for reference, but do not rely on it for specific dimensions.

Recommended Tools

  • Circular saw or tracksaw, clamping guide, jointer, planer, bandsaw, jigsaw, jointer plane, hand saw, chisels, drill, router.
  • Router Bits: 1/2″ spiral up-cut bit, 3/8″ straight bit, and 3/4″ straight bit.
  • Bearing Guided Pattern Bits: 1 1/4″ cutter length if using 3/4″ ply for dog hole jig. 1″ pattern bit if using 1/2″ ply for the dog hole jig. Or you can do what I did, and use a 1″ pattern bit (Freud 50-102) and make the cut in two depth passes.
  • Optional – 1/4″ Mortise Bit  – for inlaying leg vise bushing.
  • Optional – Rockler Circle Templates – for inlaying leg vise busing
  • Forstner Bits: 1″ , 1 1/4″, 1 3/8″ and 1 5/8″
  • Brad Point Bits: 3/8″, 5/16″
  • Other Drill Bits: 3/4″ Auger Bit for dog holes.
  • Rabbeting Block Plane or Shoulder Plane for joinery cleanup.
  • Taps for Leg Vise Hardware: 5/16-18 thread tap 

Reviews:

Hi Marc,

I wanted to take a moment to sincerely thank you for your videos on the split top Roubo! What a wonderful series! As pretty much a beginner/intermediate, I truly appreciated the detail, good camera work, optional strategies, clear explanations, and of course showing your mistakes. Showing the mistakes was great! That ended up giving me a lot of freedom to not worry too much about my current errors and certainly future goofs.

I started this project awhile back, and I was quite tentative and cautious…worrying about goofs and failures. This was also due to the fact that most strategies and techniques were new to me. As time went on, I found myself more confident and ready to plow into some new technique, or one of my own. That may be one of the greatest benefits or gifts of this series for me: confidence.

Cheers!

John Miles

John Miles
Guild Member

I have yet to start the build, but have watched all the videos. Very informative in genral. A lot of the content is dated, because of the change in bench crafted hardware. However, I still think it was very insightful to watch.

mark00thomas
Guild Member

That was a fun 5 months! It’s a process and a very sizeable investment but well worth it. The result is a beautiful tank and very functional. Mark doesn’t leave much out of the videos and there is no way I could have done this without it and the VERY detailed plans. Plus as usual it’s all great entertaining content. Highly recommended and I would have paid twice the video cost if I had to – it’s that helpful.

Drosner
Guild Member
Read all reviews / Leave a review

About Your Instructor:

Marc is a podcaster, video producer, woodworking enthusiast, and author of Hybrid Woodworking and Essential Joinery. He has contributed articles and video content to FineWoodworking.com, Popular Woodworking Magazine, WOOD Magazine, and Woodcraft Magazine. He is also the host of The Wood Whisperer, an instructional woodworking video series that’s been going strong since 2006. He is also one of the hosts of the Wood Talk podcast. He has taught classes at the William Ng School, Marc Adams School, Weekend with Wood, Fine Woodworking Live, as well as at various Rockler and Woodcraft stores. He also speaks periodically at woodworking events like AWFS and IWF.