Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Benchmaker's Apprentice: End Cap, Tail Vise, and Glueing

Here we are again, and today we are covering ALOT of stuff. I'm starting with the end cap. Above, you can see that I milled this piece of ash to roughly the size of the final piece.

Now I simply routed out this groove in the bench top...

And then routed a similar one in the cap.

Then I made a spline to tie it all together.

This tongue and groove doesn't really have any structural advantages, it simply aligns the cap for gluing. The bolts are what really hold this thing on.

I decided to use barrel nuts for this since they are easier to install. Although you probably won't be taking the cap off once it is glued on, the convenience is still there and it looks nice too!

Now I'm ready to route for the tail vise. I am removing lots of material here so I'm going to take it slow, only taking less than a quarter inch of material for each pass.

This clamp conveniently serves as a stop so I don't route to far into the top.

A nice fit. Now, to finish installing the tail vise, we need to glue on our dog hole laminate.

I start by hammering small brad nails into the front edge of bench, then clipping them off right at the surface. This keeps the pieces from slipping around on the glue.

This is not product placement.

Nor is this a Nature Valley granola bar commercial.

Nice and clean after some [Skraper]ing.

After the laminate was installed, I simply routed down about 1/4" for the rails of the vise.

As you can see here, because the bench top is a little thinner than what is called for, I had to elevate the inside rail with a shim, but it wasn't a problem.

At this point, I decided to glue on the last front laminate for the front top. It's 4" thick, unlike the rest of the top, which is around 3". This required a little aligning to be done right so I finished the legs so that we could drop the tops on and do some awesome aligning.

I also attached the short cross beams to the legs these are permanent so I took my pegs and glued them in, never to be removed.

Well, the top seems to fit the base nicely.

Since the front laminate drops down farther than the tops themselves, I had to take the handy Festool and make that notch up there. Now the laminate has some personal space.

To finish up the day, I did some work on the leg vise chop. I cut an angle into the bottom half so it's not so "square".

And then I also attached the parallel guide to the chop with pegs.


  1. I would call that a productive day!

  2. I was privileged enough to see the completed bench last Thursday and it's a real beauty from the construction, to the ash top, to the new finish on the vises. As good as Jameel's photography is, it doesn't do that ash justice. At first I was doubting my memory that it was ash because of the colors. My compliments!

  3. It appears that this bench is being made with a front apron and end cap that are thicker than the rest of the benchtop. Is that right? Why do that? I thought one of the major points of the roubo design was supposed to be that the top was uniform everywhere so it was easy to get clamps onto the top---no apron in the way.

  4. Thanks for the comments Tico and Josh. I'm sure the apprentice appreciates them! Well, in all honesty we've posted more here than was accomplished in one session. Shhh! :)

    Anonymous, couple reasons why John went with a 4" thick front laminate. First being I needed to write an article about cutting the large dovetail, and it required a 4" thickness. The other reason was John liked the beefier look, so he gave me the go ahead to make it 4" for my article. This is after all, his bench. I don't think clamping will be an issue. The front laminate is 1-1/2" wide, plenty of real estate for a clamp. My primary concern with this bench project was as a learning experience for the apprentice, so we were okay with breaking the rules a tad.


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