Roubo Workbench

Finishing the Workbench – Low Cost Roubo 8

Finally, after a long and very enjoyable (and sometimes frustrating process), all the mortises and tenons have been chopped, cut, fitted and drawbored, all the dovetails have been cut and assembled, the bench dog holes bored and the vises attached and adjusted. All that’s left now is finishing.


Bench complete, pre-finishing, with a temporary leg vise handle

For finishing I chose to use a mixture of equal parts boiled linseed oil (BLO), turpentine and varnish. BLO alone would work quite well too, but takes a while to dry. Varnish on the other hand is strong and adds some gloss, but would make the bench surface too smooth – ideally the bench top should not be too smooth, to improve work holding capability. Some people choose not to finish their benches at all, but finishing helps with humidity changes and with removing glue spills from the bench surface. For benches with contrasting wood such as mine it also helps bring out the contrast.


After the finish dried

I poured a liberal amount on of the mixture the top and wiped it on, and did the same for the base. 3 coats and I felt the bench had sufficient protection. Keep your windows open and your fans on, as the turpentine smells quite nasty.

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Once the finish dried, I moved some of my frequently used tools to the planing stop, and set about admiring my new bench. Altogether the bench weighs around 350 lb, so it isn’t going anywhere in a hurry. Chopping mortises on the bench is a real pleasure, with almost no vibration at all, and with the bench dog holes, bench dogs, holdfasts, planing stop and vises, the work holding options have so far covered pretty much every situation I have come across.


The bench completed

I hope this build series helped you, whether you chose to follow it exactly or just get some ideas from it. If you have any questions or photos you’d like to share, give me a shout!

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