More Roubo – in Wood, Not Words


I finished up an Andre Roubo try square last night – this one in row-grain mahogany,

The funny thing about this square is that it is the first one I’ve made in a species that Roubo himself might actually have used. All the other French squares I’ve made have been using North American species: American beech, maple, walnut and cherry.

ROUBO212PrWhat’s funny about that? Of all the squares I’ve made, I like this one the least. The square’s blade is perfectly quartersawn and has that row grain that is a result of the interlocked grain. I think it’s visually distracting, even though it’s proper, and I’ve seen many wooden tools that look this way.

The bridle joint also has a small gash at the baseline when my chisel slipped. But the square is square and is nice and lightweight. So maybe I’ll come to like it after it gets grungy.

On the docket today is a full load of Roubo. I’m editing the last chapter of “To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry.” I’m also building a three-legged campaign stool from his original 18th-century text.

This should be a fun build, and an opportunity to use up some of the small leather scraps from our last run of Roorkhee chairs. The only trick to the stool is the hardware. I found a way to make it without welding, which was the traditional method.

As always, details and photos to come.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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20 Responses to More Roubo – in Wood, Not Words

  1. Marilyn says:

    I have some of this mahogany that I’m working with right now and have some really nice cut offs to work with. I was planing some of it last night and having a lot of tear out. Any hints?

  2. Brian Hotham says:

    Well, if you really don’t like it you can send it to me! It looks great, you did a nice job.

  3. robert says:

    Due to the row-grain the image looks as if the blade has been molded with a series of hollows and rounds. At least that is how it looked to me at first – I had to ask myself “Why would anybody make a square out of molding – that’s just showing off.” Then I looked a little further.

  4. John Passacantando says:

    Anybody else suspicious that Schwarz seems to have an impossibly high output every week? Multiple blogs, articles, teaching, editing, publishing and then the woodworking projects. Seriously, he’s either on some full time amphetamine drip feed or L. Ron Hubbard and his loyal crew are making all this stuff up in the Chris Schwarz pseudonym from a sailboat in the Pacific. I’m ready for the exercise video.

    • Gene ORourke says:

      Keep in mind… He doesn’t actually have a real job. So while I struggle through ADHD at my desk and hope for the best, he can write for a while, build for a while, tinker with tools for a while, write some more, teach a class, write some more, drink a beer, write some more. For someone with a short attention span, that must be heaven. The amazing part is that he actually finishes his projects. Lots of projects. I suspect the beer has something to do with it.

    • Patrick says:

      Behold! The power of beer!

  5. I have dedicated moulding planes for the profiles on the ends of the blade and the handle. They were hard to find and are even harder to use!

    At least my sticking board doesn’t take up much space.

  6. Harlan Janes says:

    Here 200 years plus Roubo is still having an effect on woodworkers. Whose work today will be having an impact on future woodworkers say 100 or 200 years out?

  7. Tim Henriksen says:

    And he jogs each morning … I’m convinced he doesn’t sleep.

  8. Martin Shaw says:

    Probably uses a Time Turner

  9. andrae says:

    I believe you mean roe grain. Or roey. 🙂

  10. Hardware…. So you get three really BIG cotter pins. Open ’em WAY up (240°) and put ’em flat to flat. Find some washers that just BARELY go over one pair of the cotters and slip three to the center. Put yer wooden legs on with appropriately sized holes. Put three more washers on tight to the legs, and split apart the ends of the cotter pins. Nip the ends to 1/4″ or so, and flatten them to the washers. It’s not armor plate, but it DOES work!

  11. Rainer says:

    Yep, that grain is distracting. I guess it’s what one is used to, but to me it is the woodgrain equivalent of tripping on acid. Or so I’m told…

  12. abtuser says:

    Wow, I’ve got a mahogany project involving bridal joints too. Scary. I just purchased 16 linear feet of 4/4 from my (very nice selection) local hardwood vendor two weeks ago.

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