Hybrid Workbench Roubo/Nicholson




Check out how i Built this AWESOME workbench, Inspired By the Third Coast Craftsman!

Entire bench is built from 16 2x6" and 6 4x4" that you can get at your local home center.

Add some nice hardwood for the vises if you like.

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Step 1: Workbench Top

Gather The Materials for the Top of the bench. I used rough cut 2x6 material but you could use 2x6 boards from your local home center. Ensure the edges and faces are flat and square using a jointer and a thickness planer. You can do this by hand if these tools are not available or you could just take your time choosing the boards when you buy them.

Step 2: Glue Up the Two Halves of the Top

After the material is flat and square, apply liberal amounts of glue and clamp them up. Make sure to leave more length and width than your desired final size so that you can cut the halves down after the glue up. If you purchase your wood at the Home Center make sure to cut away the stock rounded edges. I made sure the width was less than the capacity of my planer so i could use it to save time cleaning up the top and bottom after the glue is cured.

Step 3: Cleanup the Benchtop Half

After glue has set over night, make sure all surfaces are even, square, and flat once again.

Step 4: Join the Two Halves of the Bench Top

Now that you have the two halves of your top, You have to join them together in some manner. I chose to use a piece of the same 4x4 material i will use for the base. I cut a length of the 4x4 that was 5 inches long, then used 8 3/8" dowels (4 in each side) to join the two halves together.

Step 5: Begin Layout for All Your Mortise and Tennon Joints for the Base Assembly

Now that the two halves of the top are one, we can turn our attention to the base construction so we have something to support this beefy top. Again, i chose to use 4x4 (rough cut) non treated pine, but those may be hard to find in a lot of areas so you could also laminate two 2x4 or 2x6 boards to make your base. Take the time to carefully layout all your joints so that when its time to start cutting, you don't have to bounce back and forth, plus all your layout tools are already set correctly.

Step 6: Cut All the Mortise and Tennon Joints

After all the joints are carefully laid out, cut them each appropriately. I use a dado blade for the tennons and a router or forstner bit for the bulk of the waste in my mortises. Leave the lines and cut to them by hand with a chisel.

Step 7: Assemble Workbench Base

No that you have cut mortise and tennon joints for about a week (lol) Its time to join all the components of the base together. Do a dry fit to ensure everything fits correctly, then glue and clamp all the joints and allow the glue to cure overnight.

Step 8: Join Workbench Top to Base

There are several ways that this can be done but i chose to use a through tennon that comes up through the entire top to the bench. I did not glue the top down, but you may want to or you could use brackets and screw the parts together.... i'm just not a fan of mechanical fasteners.

Step 9: Add All Vises and Accessories

Add all wooden accessories, and hardware that you wish to have in the final product. I chose to add two vises ( front and tail vise) , casters to make the bench mobile, a sliding deadman, and the build up on the Nicholson side to make the entire side one flush surface. This way you can get a good feel for how the bench will look and function once complete. Then remove all items that you do not wish to get finish on. And get ready for prep of final finishing processes.

Step 10: Sand All Surfaces to Prepare for Finish

Sand all surfaces to prepare for finish. I typically like to hand sand for the final stage, because electric sanders tend to leave swirls or divots. You can also use fine hand planes to prepare for this stage, if you have the proper equipment to do so. After all surfaces are to your liking and ready for finish, remove all dust from your bench.

Step 11: Apply Finish

Apply Your Favorite protective finish. I have come to utilize Danish oil quite often. It is easy to apply and maintain. If an area needs to be refinished in the future, you simply sand it down and re apply and it blends perfectly. Maker Brand Co has a product called simple finish that works quite well also, or you could always go with the traditional Boiled Linseed Oil.

Step 12: Enjoy Your New Bench!

Now enjoy all your hard work by using your new AMAZING workbench. Modify it as you see fit, add more accessories or less. Add another vise, drill some dog holes, get some Holdfasts... GO Crazy! And make this bench your own!

Step 13: Go Watch the Video on How I Built the Bench


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    30 Discussions


    Question 7 days ago on Introduction

    What is the dimension of the top?
    I could guess but then I would probably need a crane to move it!
    (I generally over-estimate things!)

    1 answer
    Dimensions Wood Worksdgwicks

    Answer 3 days ago

    65" long , by 28" wide and 5" thick. It weighs a bit over 200 lbs alone. This build could be done with a 3 inch top though and still be plenty sturdy.


    16 days ago

    As an amateur carpenter, I have never understood why the traditional woodworking bench has such a thick top and, quite often, a deep apron along the front (though this seems to be absent in this case). I have made a bench using a welded steel frame with a top made of inch-thick ply, which is much easier to clamp to: it is really just a simple table top which works fine for me. (See photo).

    5 replies

    Uncle Frogy is right, an assembly table and a workbench are two different things. You see the thick top, and deep apron ( on the other side of this bench in embedded video) are all designed to hold wood.

    The bench is a jig, not a table. It is the most useful and largest jig, but a jig nonetheless that has the capability to hold wood so that you can work on the 3 surfaces of a board: end, face or side.

    I dont have the dog holes in this bench on the top yet, but i will make another video/instructable on the logic of where to place those holes.

    Thank you for these explanations from pro woodworkers. I was once given a traditional woodworkers' bench. It was as beautiful as a traditional clinker-built rowboat. My problem was that I was always working with quite small pieces of timber and could not clamp them to the top, except in the vice. Should we conclude that the traditional bench always needs to be enhanced by adding the dog holes and very expensive dogs? I look forward to advice on this. My aim is to discover the best design for someone short of both space and money (my shed is so small that the bench has to serve as assembly table, desk and mount for bench-mounted router tables etc.

    Your best bet to secure things to the top is a combination of dogs in the vise, holdfasts and does feet. You can make dogs yourself from dowels ( a technique I’ll show in the next video) or you can buy them. All in on this bench i only have about $100 in lumber. The vises are quite expensive but you can add them down the road and get what you can a little at a time.

    Hope this helps!

    uncle frogyBradscopegems

    Reply 15 days ago

    a carpenter work bench is not primarily an assembly table. They developed with hand tools and combine aspects of a vise in that the whole bench becomes a vise and will accommodate many sizes of work pieces, the mass adds properties of an anvil adding great stability and rigidity to the bench, it does not flex, bounce nor slide about good things when dimentioning stock and cutting mortises .
    Of course it developed long before structural steal was possible
    uncle frogy


    NA, Just a couple sawhorses and a piece of plywood would suffice in a pinch. And you could clamp the stretchers to a 2x4 to cut the mortise and tennon joints.


    15 days ago

    Nice job. I'm on a budget so I had to build myself a free one using a used 2" solid core door and old 4x4 fence posts etc. It's really heavy so maybe I'll add wheels when I find some free ones.

    1 reply

    I probably only have about $80-$100 in all the lumber in this whole build. The vises and accessories are where the money is! But its still a win over buying a comprable bench for $2000 or more and you cant customize it to your work flow.


    They are from Woodcraft and are made especially to make big, heavy workbenches mobile. If i remember correctly they are rated at 110 lbs each so your bench could weigh 440 pounds. Mine is Just north of 300lbs and would be quite difficult to move without them.


    16 days ago

    Very nice! You mention in the video you were doing to post a dimensioned set of plans - I didn't find the link. Please?

    Also: I noticed no bench dog holes on the top surface. Is there a reason you chose to skip those?

    3 replies
    Dimensions Wood Worksfnoxib

    Reply 16 days ago

    Im still working on the plans, they are taking longer than expected. When they are complete ill have them in the description of this video for FREE. Sorry for the inconvenience, ive never done plans before, but i figured this may be a build that some folks would like to duplicate so i started making a 3D model, im just not fast at it.

    fnoxibDimensions Wood Works

    Reply 16 days ago

    Got it - thanks!

    3D models are definitely an art to themselves. I've dabbled a bit and had some success but it took lots of practice. There are many ways to get a thing to look like what you want, but for the model to be *right* and *useful* is another story!

    Your bench inspired me, though. I have been thinking about buying or building a bench and this design really met me at the sturdy/simple/versatile/price sweet spot. I eagerly await the next installments. Nice work!

    Dimensions Wood Worksfnoxib

    Reply 16 days ago

    Oh, sorry, the dog holes in top will be done in a separate video to go over my logic of where to place them. And ill have a few more things in that video. I just didn't want this video to end up being an hour long, so it will be 4-5 videos that go into detail on certain areas. Theyll follow soon .


    Sorry Carl, I shouldve done better in explaining that . The gap is filled with another 4x4 that spans the length of the bench and also serves as a planing stop that covers the whole length. The video embedded has more detail on that subject if you want to look into it further. Thanks!!!