After I built my French-style workbench using dimensional yellow pine in 2005, I tried to acquire a solid slab of hardwood to make a second bench that would be constructed just like the one shown in A.J. Roubo’s “L’art du Menuisier.”
I contacted several sawyers, who all told me I was crazy. I convinced one sawyer to give it a try, but he stopped returning my calls. This part of the story goes on and on, so I won’t bore you. But let’s just say I kept getting abandoned at the altar with me in a shop apron and holding a bouquet of mortise chisels.
Last night I finally got my wish. Thanks to a fellow woodworker, I now have a slab of poplar that measures 6” x 22” x 130” on my back deck. It’s still kinda wet and has some checks on the bark side, but the heart side is solid and almost completely clear.
If the slab remains stable as I finish drying it, I’m going to make a bench that resembles the beasts in Plate 11 of Roubo’s book. As to vises, I think this might be the one to trick out with a Benchcrafted Glide with the company’s forthcoming Criscross parallel guide. I’m not sure about the end vise. I have a Lie-Nielsen improved tail vise sitting in a box in the basement.
What I don’t have yet is a place to put the bench. I think it would look awesome in the front room of the house, but I should start saving up for the marriage counseling and florist bills starting today.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. For those of you who don’t read my blog at Popular Woodworking Magazine, you might be interested in this post from yesterday about two changes I’ve made to by 2005 Roubo workbench.