My Roubo Work Bench

Chris Schwarz, prolific writer and editor of WoodWorking and Popular WoodWorking magazines, resurrected one hell of a workbench—an 18th century joiner's design hailing from France—that fired the imaginations of countless woodworking enthusiasts. I am one of them. I built my Roubo in the Fall of 2006 (inspired by Chris's Fall 2005 article in WoodWorking Magazine). I thought I'd devote a page on this web site to explain it.

Inspired by Chris's groundbreaking article on the Roubo bench he showcased in the Fall 2005 issue of WoodWorking Magazine, I built the bench you see above. I use it every day. I'll fettle a tool for resale on eBay on this bench, build the occasional woodworking project on it, and my new line of Bad Axe saws was born on this bench. I love this bench—it's my office. You will too, when you build one just like it.

Notice the two holdfasts inserted in the bench—these hand-forged tools are elegantly primitive and highly effective; their function unchanged for hundreds of years. Esteemed Galoot and Alaskan Blacksmith Phil Koontz, designed these holdfasts for Chris Schwarz's groundbreaking Roubo bench and article published in the Fall issue of WoodWorking magazine.

Phil Koontz

Phil Koontz

Inspired by Phil's work, I immediately bought them shortly after constructing the bench just prior to my deployment to Afghanistan in 2007. These simple devices hold down a batten,or piece of work, as one planes, chisels, saws, etc. Not only do they work, they are simply beautiful in form and function. Phil Koontz's website can be found at http://www.galenavillageblacksmith.com.

Phil's holdfasts complete this workbench, given the 18th century design. These simple, elegant tools wrought under Phil's hammer and anvil are no different than the holdfasts of yesteryear.

Chris's blog entry showcasing Phil's handiwork is found at http://blog.woodworking-magazine.com/blog/Ask+And+You+Shall+Beat+The+Snot+Out+Of+Something.aspx.

I receive many queries from my eBay customers asking how they can make their own Roubo. Well—here's how you will find the best online library I know of to get there: If you'll go to WoodWorking magazine's blog, and enter 'Roubo' in the site's search engine, you will find a sheer crush of follow-up articles accompanying the original article Chris wrote (including digital blueprints for making your own). Just click on http://popularwoodworking.com/googlesearch/?SearchString=roubo and you'll find everything you need.

Roubo Construction

I constructed my Roubo out of walnut and white oak harvested from my Battle Hollow property in Southwest Wisconsin (also showcased on this web site), and laminated the benchtop together with 2x southern yellow pine lumber. SWMBO, of course, did not approve of the investment of time required in this project. But it was a labor of love, and worth every minute.

Roubo Construction

Workbenches: From Design and Theory, to Construction & UseChris has a web site compiling all his publications at: http://www.lostartpress.com. There, you will find his outstanding book, "Workbenches: From Design and Theory, to Construction & Use."

I can't recommend this guys's work enough to those of you out there who have commented on my Roubo during the course of my eBay sales. He writes highly readable prose and knows how to convey technical information in a humorous, engaging style. Between Chris Schwarz's body of work, and this truly outstanding project, you just can't go wrong.

Have fun building yours!

"Ask, and you shall beat the snot out of something."
—Chris Schwarz, editor of WoodWorking and Popular WoodWorking Magazines