Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The French Oak Roubo Project Part Deux—Registration Open

In the autumn of 2015 a small group of Roubo enthusiasts will gather to once again build benches based on the famous Plate 11 engraving from L'art du Menuisier. And once again, you are invited.

Like last time (read our original announcement here for FORP I) we will get to work with amazing slabs of French oak, in the pastoral setting of Wyatt Child's brick-and-pine joiner's shop in rural Georgia. Child's shop is outfitted with machinery perfectly suited to process these large slabs quickly and efficiently, from the Woodmizer bandmill to the 36" Oliver Straitoplane. Would Roubo have used these machines to process his own bench parts? If he were with us in Georgia last summer, I don't think there'd be any question.

The Enthusiasts

Bo Childs Our gracious host and gentleman extraordinaire
Benchcrafted  Us, obviously
Raney Nelson Daed Toolworks' infill plane maker, yes, he's still alive
Jeff Miller Chicago furniture maker and woodworking ergonomicist
Chris Schwarz Grits provider and pocket hole technician, he also writes now and then
Jon Fiant The Human Saw Stop. Also builds custom workbenches to order in his Atlanta shop.
Ron Brese Local Fishing Guide
Will Myers So good he cuts mortises with a butter knife. Also teaches at Underhill's Woodwright's School.
Don Williams The guy who used to work at a famous place that rhymes with "Smythsonian"

The Format

This is the same crew from FORP I. Almost all of us built a bench to take home during FORP I, and were occupied doing our own work during the week (when we weren't in production mode) but this time around all of the enthusiasts will be there to help and assist the participants in building their benches. So for FORP II we're changing the format a bit. You don't need to be an advanced or even an intermediate woodworker to sign up. There will be plenty of help and instruction. However, this event is not a class, and there won't be any group instruction or formal techniques taught unless you ask. But again, plenty of help and expertise will be available. If you're more of a beginner, you will have over a year to advance your skills and prepare.

The Material

Bo has once again unearthed a cache of 24/4 French oak over in the old country and has shipped it over to his shop in Barnesville. These will become massive, one or two-piece tops.  We mill the tops with the Oliver Straitoplane and finish out between 5" and 6" thick. We'll also be using 16/4 French oak for the legs and rails. Some of the material for the tops will be somewhat green in the core of the slab. This is natural for 24/4 material. Roubo's tops were like this, and the tops we made in 2013 were like this. Once your bench is built and installed in your shop, the tops will settle down fine. To read more in-depth info check out Schwarz's French Oak posts over at the Lost Art Press blog.


Barnesville, GA. Child's shop is an hour south of Atlanta just off I-75. Bo's shop is ideally suited for building massive benches, and Bo himself is an incredibly generous and enthusiastic host. You'll find Wyatt Childs a fascinating place on its own, replete with acres of historic French architectural salvage and antiques. It's like walking into Roubo's boneyard. And if you're in the market for building some great furniture after your bench build, bring a trailer. Bo has a warehouse full of tens of thousands of board feet of everything from chestnut to swamp harvested cypress. And they are all flitch sawn and wide.

The Bench & Accessories

We'll again be building the bench from Plate 11 down to the last detail. We'll cut the joinery close with the machines, then fit everything precisely by hand. If you prefer to cut joints entirely by hand, feel free. The leg vise will be made by Lake Erie Toolworks and the iron fittings (ring ferrule, handle) forged by blacksmith Peter Ross, as will the toothed planing stop, all meticulously modeled from Plate 11. One hand-forged holdfast will also be included.

The Plate 11 bench does not use a parallel guide on the leg vise. This may annoy you, or you may not mind. Read Schwarz's take on his blog (see above link). He built his without a parallel guide. The rest of the FORP I participants used a Benchcrafted Crisscross in their leg vise, and it works seamlessly with Lake Erie's screw. If you'd like to use Benchcrafted vises on your bench, contact us for more info.

The Date

November 8-14, 2015

Sunday evening: meet and greet at Bo's shop, presentation on the Plate 11 bench, history, and more. Light refreshments.

Monday-Friday: We build from about 8am-6pm, or until we drop.

Saturday: Last year Bo kept his shop open for anyone wishing to stay through Saturday and keep working on their benches. Hand tools only, no machines.

Thursday night: BBQ at the shop and open house for friends and family.

The Price

$4800. Includes enough French oak to build the entire bench as illustrated in Plate 11, the French oak leg vise screw and tapped leg from Lake Erie Toolworks, the hand-forged ring ferrule, vise handle, toothed planing stop and holdfast from Peter Ross.

Catered lunch included Monday-Friday.

Participants will arrange for their own lodging (we've made arrangements with a couple B&B's in the area for discounted rates.) Participants will also be responsible for transporting their bench back home after the event. Wyatt Childs can arrange for shipping participant's benches as well.

Participants will bring their own hand tools, portable power tools (i.e. drill, router) sawbenches or sawhorses and sharpening equipment. We'll provide a list to participants of what you need.

If you'd like to sign up, send an email to and we'll send you more details. Registration opens at 10am CST today. Any emails received before then will be put at the bottom of the stack (to be fair its first come, first served) Payment is 50% down, and the rest shortly before the build.

The event is limited to 16 participants. 
Update 9/2: We've got 16 participants. Anyone who contacts us now will be put on the waitlist in case someone can't make it. 

To get a feel for what this event will be like, check out these blog posts:

The FORP Official Report Part 1

The FORP Official Report Part 2

The FORP Video

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