French Oak Roubo Bench Enhancements


With FORP II getting into full swing this week, thought it would be good to show a couple enhancements I made to my 2013 FORP bench, in line with Roubo’s Plate 11.  Specifically the drawer and grease pot.

The drawer front was made from the French Oak stash, the rest is local stuff.  Typical drawer construction – half blind dovetails in front, through dovetails in back.  Grooves down the top of the insides allow the drawer to hang and slide on oak “L” brackets screwed to the bottom of the bench.thumb_IMG_0900_1024

To prevent this from becoming a junk drawer, I thought it would be good to make dedicated space within for commonly used tools.  I decided it would be perfect for chisels and rasps stored in two layers, with the top being a sliding tray to give better access to the bottom.  To keep the tools separated, I created dividers by drilling a series of 1″ holes in a small board, which I then cut in half on the bandsaw.  I actually don’t like the “nubby” look between the tools, but the half round slots do cradle the tools nicely and keep the drawer organized.  Now just need to add a lock to be in full Plate 11 compliance – will wait a few more seasons for the top to stop moving around before I do that.

For the grease pot I simply routed a cavity in a small chunk of oak and used a band saw to create the lip for mounting to the bench.  Because I have a sliding deadman groove running between the legs on the underside, I had to install the pot bit further from the front edge than planned.  But it protrudes enough for easy access to the paraffin wax and chalk that I keep there.thumb_IMG_0903_1024

As noted, I also added a deadman (as pictured here). Although this is not illustrated on Plate 11, there are examples of it on French benches from the same era.  However I am not a purist, so its usefulness would have trumped historically accuracy if it came to that!

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