This fall / winter I’ll be building a Split Top Roubo as part of The Woodwhisperer Guild Build. I’m really looking forward to having another workbench in the shop, with a lot more work-holding power than my current assembly table.
The first step was to identify and find the lumber that I want to use. The project plans call for over 130 board feet. Early on I decided to go with douglas fir for a few reasons:
- Softwood: I want to use a softwood so that my bench is softer than the woods I’m working on it. Therefore as I pound or cut on the bench, the bench will tend to dent rather than my work pieces. Also, makes it easy to build and flatten over time.
- Size: I can get douglas fir in large pieces (beams), therefore saving me significant time and work in the build process, not having to laminate nearly so many pieces for the top or legs.
- Cost: Douglas fir beams can be had for about $2 / bd ft in my area. Compare that to soft maple at about $6+ from the lumber yards.
I got a good tip from Shannon Rogers about sourcing the douglas fir: Contact a timber framer and see if I can grab some extra, offcuts, etc. So, I let my fingers do the walking (on the web) and performed a Google Search for timber framers in my area. I then fired off emails to about a half dozen of them to introduce myself and make a request. I also used Craigslist to search for beams.
I heard back from a couple and pursued them. A few weeks later, I headed out to meet Tom Musco of Royalston Oak – he had a few timbers at his shop that were for a project about 10 years ago and never used. He pulled them out for me to review and I picked three 6″x8″x12′ pieces. He cut 4′ off each of them for easier hauling in my truck. I gave him $300 for the 144 board feet.
All in all – a very easy process to find some awesome timber for my bench.