I should know better than to get my hopes up. Reading Ingenious Mechanicks psyched me up to make a minimalist workbench. Something with a slab top, through tenoned front legs and splayed back legs. Then I found this lovely chunk of pattern grade 16/4 Honduran Mahogany at my local Downes and Reader lumberyard.
The slab I found was overall 124″ long, at least 14.5″ wide at every point and a full 4.5″ thick. It had almost no cupping or bowing along its length, and no through checking. The ends were even nearly square. It seemed like the perfect piece of wood for the task, as I could get both the slab top and the legs from the same piece.
But then I unloaded it from the trailer. And could lift it by myself. It turns out that there is more to wood than just its Janka hardness. Honduran Mahogany exceeds Douglas Fir in hardness (which I confirmed while at the lumber yard), but apparently isn’t that great in the density department. The bench would have been far too light for any serious planing activities.
At least I got a full refund. Which I will put toward a Brooklyn Re-Co red oak roubo kit (sans stretchers, though).
My near mistake has made me more cautious. Before I invest in a slab of soggy, urban red oak, I will laminate a 20″ wide top (as close to 96″ long as I can) from my glut of home center Douglas Fir 4×4’s and figure out the correct angle for the back legs.
And after that is built, I will probably sell my current workbench.