Alright, so we’ve got a deconstructed Petite Roubo and now it’s time to start the heavy lifting – literally. As I said before, I was really set on re-using part of the old bench and building the new bench completely out of oak (well, oak plus some walnut accents). The issue, of course, was sourcing lumber. I decided to actually try to build a 3D model first to help visualize and calculate the wood needs before jumping in. This is incredibly uncharacteristic of me, as I generally just jump in and start making mistakes.
I’ll spare you the process of learning SketchUp, but after a lot of trial and error, I was pretty happy with this:
The primary benefits of doing the model were helping me visualize the visual “weight” of the top/legs, and helping to calculate the lumber I would need. I decided to go through with my plan to re-use the legs from the old bench, even if they were a smidge undersized. I wanted a beefy top, but I decided to go a bit thinner than I would have if I were building the legs new. I also kept this bench on the narrow side – and if I were to redo everything, I would probably add 1-2 inches.
So, whereto now? I knew I needed a bunch of oak for the top, I needed it in huge hunks and I needed over 8′ of material. Oh, and it couldn’t be *too* wet. Oh, and I’m not filthy rich, so cost was a factor. Every dollar I saved on this project was a dollar I was wife-approved to put into tool replacement. Easy peasy, right? It took weeks of searching online, checking Facebook, Craigslist, calling local mills, etc. Finally, I found a hobbyist sawyer about 45 minutes away who had 2 white oak slabs that had been air drying in his barn. The price was good, so I took a drive and made a new friend.
With my ’06 Tundra loaded down, I headed home. I should have taken more pictures so you could get a sense for the size, but alas…I wasn’t even thinking about writing a post. The goal was to divide the boards evenly, rip them into strips, flip them on end and have my top laminations. Thus began the real labor. Ripping the boards required multiple passes with the circular saw due to the sheer thickness of the wood and the fact that oak is…not soft.
I had a large, thin walnut board I had worked into a bandsaw purchase a month before, so I ripped it in half and threw in 2 strips. While I know these walnut accent pieces are fairly controversial in roubo benches, I added them for 3 reasons:
- I needed a wider top and I ran out of oak.
- The old bench had them, and I wanted to carry forward to spirit.
- My YouTube reviews are all filmed against this benchtop, and for consistency sake I wanted it to feel similar
You can tell I’m running right up against the width of the sawhorses I built, and I’m beginning to stress that flimsy pine. This project was an exercise in selective frugality – I built the sawhorses for free out of a few pallets that were delivered to my house and instead put all of my lumber budget into the oak. It got a *bit* dicey at times, but overall worked just fine. I-beam sawhorse construction ftw!