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
  • $120.00

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:

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

After needing a bench for way too long, I finally bought this and got to work. Well, got to work watching the videos that is! 🙂 Marc does such a great job breaking such a large project into small, manageable steps that are easy to follow. This truly is a lifetime bench. I can’t imagine needing to get rid of it and building something different to replace it. I built it a little taller and a lot longer (10″+) and both customizations were easy to do with Marc’s help.
I love that after Benchcrafted updated their hardware he added an updated video that you receive (make sure you watch it before starting anything!) included in the cost of the project. Amazing!

Peter Boyes
Guild Member
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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.