Starting the Roubo.

On June 1st 2010, I bought 10 planks of American Ash for my first proper workbench, the Roubo Bench.  I am basing this bench on the design in Christopher Schwarz’s workbench book as well as his many Woodworking Magazine blog posts.  It will only differ in overall length from his bench due to space constraints.  The first post I made discussed starting out.  Well this is a case in point.  I have almost completed my workshop, got every power tool and nearly every hand tool I need, yet I have no proper bench.  So what should have been the 1st thing in my workshop, is going to be my last.  I just didn’t know.  And I wish I could write a book one day stating the correct order of things when starting out.  A lot of books cover the details, it’s the order that matters. 

Conclusion:  If you are starting out and not sure if you are going to use hand tools a little, a lot or not at all.  If you don’t know if you are going to focus on cabinet work, turning, chair-making, inlays etc.  If the only thing you know is that you love working with wood.  I have 3 pieces of advice as a beginner woodworker myself : 1) Build a solid heavy bench that can hold your pieces properly, and like Christopher Schwarz advises, don’t try and be innovative.  Just copy what is available.  Do this first.  2) Get a few but the best measuring and marking tools-a couple of Veritas’ wheel marking gauges, a super accurate double square (I have one from Rabone, one from Starrett and one from Chris Vesper), a sliding bevel that locks down, a good marking knife, an engineer’s square and a straight edge, a digital vernier (small one), and a divider.  This is not the exhaustive list but a start.  3) Learn to sharpen.  Properly.  A future post will discuss this subject in detail.  I was fortunate have a friend show me the A-Z of sharpening, plus get me all the supplies I needed.  There is a lot to know, but once you are set up, it doesn’t take much time to hone, nor is it difficult to do.