Building a Workbench

The Roubo German Workbench

While planning to build a workbench, I bought Chris Schwarz’s Workbenches book.  He walks through a detailed thought process about what kind of bench do you need, what specific features work best for the woodworking you do, what each type of vise does best, etc.  He then shows how to build two benches: one an English style, and the other a French style.  The French workbench is based on one shown in André Roubo’s L’art du Menuisier, published in the 1770’s.  Roubo also shows a variation which he calls a German workbench, used by Teutonic cabinetmakers working in Paris.  That design features an additional leg vise that slides back and forth, and an end vise.

Roubo German Bench

Around the same time, I discovered oud luthier Jameel Abraham’s blog posts about the construction of his Roubo French / German workbench.  He made some changes and additions, including some clever innovations for the vises.  Then he went on to overachieve and design premium vise hardware.

I mostly followed the design and instructions in the Schwarz book, but added a sliding leg vise as per the German form, picking up a few details from Jameel’s original vises.  One significant change I made was to design the workbench to break down for moving.  The long stretchers are held in place with tusk tenons, and the top separates into four sections.  So far I do not have an end vise.

Roubo German Bench Photo

More photos of the completed bench on the final images page.