One of my early workbenches was more than 30″ wide. At first, I was thrilled with this width as it allowed me more places to pile junk as I worked on a project.
Then one day I was working on a toy box for a nephew and I wanted to level the finger joints. After fussing and flailing around like a rooster in an empty henhouse I conspired to sleeve the carcase over the end of the bench.
Denied. The bench was too wide. Zut alors!
Lucky for me, however, the bench was a big solid-core door (it had once been the door to our building’s cafeteria). So after 10 minutes on the table saw, my benchtop was 24″ wide and the carcase fit perfectly over the end.
I like narrow benches for a lot of reasons. I can reach the tools on the wall. They allow me to clamp all around typical carcases right to the benchtop. But I really like a narrow bench when I have to level dovetail joints on a carcase or cabinet.
That is when the Roubo really shines. Today I was leveling some finger joints on a blanket chest and just slapped the thing onto the bench as shown in the above photo and went to work. In the photo I’m knocking down the end grain with a Shinto-rasp (it saves me sharpening time on my block plane when I start with the coarse tool).
Heck, even the 16″ overhang on the end of the bench contributes to my bliss. Most carcases are stable with that amount of support, and the legs below the top help brace the work as I flail away on the end grain.
When the carcase is a bit small, like this blanket chest, I have to switch to an outrigger platform (shown below) to work the ends. But I’m still working against the entire benchtop – the top, the right leg and the stretchers. Having them all in the same plane reduces the amount of clamping I have to do to secure my work.
— Christopher Schwarz