-- $160, 4 hour glulam workbench build - part 1

    Dad's Roubo style lathe stand...

For years as a diving coach I would look up at the ceilings of these new natatoriums in awe. See they are now made with these massive wood beams, many of which were arched. They looked like yellow pine 2x8-12's laminated together. So I always thought that might be a perfect table top.

I'm now debating materials and design for building a number of workbenches and the beams jumped back into my mind. So when my Dad decided he needed a workbench for his new lathe, one that would aide in vibration reduction I instantly thought of a heavy roubo style with those thick beams would be perfect.

glulam topA little research and I found out the beams are an architectural product called glulam which is short for 'glued laminate'. Most of the time the timber is treated, which would be horrible for hand tools, but if you look around you can find it untreated. Lumber yards will have to order it so you can't 'pick' out your examples but I've found that they look for clear boards when making the beams. Besides... it's a workbench. They sell it at specific widths and thicknesses and as many feet as you want though I was told only at 2ft. intervals. It really wasn't that expensive, $20-30 per linear foot depending upon thickness.

He ordered a 5.5" thick x 2'w x 4'l glulam slab We then went to the big box store and we picked up some 4x4 & 2x6 douglas firs (make sure it's untreated!), a oak dowel and some hardware (maybe a few impulse tools too, including a plastic speed square) to make the base. All total the bill was less than $160.

lumber for the baseNow during this article I won't be mentioning exact measurements because they'd be irrelevant to you. Build a bench to the height you need or prefer. Dad wanted his lathe so the axis of rotation would be at his elbow so we did all measurements based upon that reference height. What I will say is pick your reference point. For this project everything was based upon the BOTTOM of the table. In that way leg length was measured from the tenon shoulder down since that registers to the base when assembled.

Also you won't see any finish smoothing. We went straight to sawing because... IT'S a WORKBENCH! It'll be beat up soon any ways so that time could be better spent.

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