For the last month, I’ve been revising and expanding my first book “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use” for F+W Media. The revised book is scheduled to be out by the end of 2015 and printed in the United States.
I started writing that book in 2005, and a lot has changed in the last 10 years – not in workbench design, but in workholding. Plus, after teaching 15 or so classes on building workbenches (and building another dozen benches myself), I have learned a few things about bench building that have made my life easier.
Oh, and there are a few small errors in the original edition, including one line that people give me inordinate amounts of crap for. I wrote that I added a coat of wax to a benchtop, and then in a later photo caption discuss how that’s stupid for handwork. So I gave bad advice and then I contradicted myself. Sigh.
So I’ve been nipping and tucking the text throughout the entire book. Most of my edits are to reflect changes in what’s available. When I wrote that book, there weren’t any commercial benches that I would buy, there weren’t any manufactured holdfasts that I’d buy and wood vise screws were extremely difficult to find. Today we have an almost-embarrassing array of benches and accessories to choose from.
It’s weird revising your own work. It’s like having a conversation with a younger version of yourself. As I make small changes I mutter to myself: “Yeah, you’re right. But you could have said it in a nicer way.” Good thing I work alone.
I also decided to add two benches to the book.
In the original edition I show how to build an English bench and a French bench, both from construction lumber. They are great benches, and are still in daily service today. But after much thought, I decided to add plans for a knockdown English bench and a no-compromises French bench with all the crazy sliding-dovetail joinery.
As I sat down to write these chapters, I didn’t think I had anything more to say about workbenches. About 10,000 words later, I proved myself wrong.
I’ll have more details on the revised edition as they are available.
— Christopher Schwarz
If you are interested in bench building, check out Will Myers’ new DVD “Building the Portable Moravian Workbench.” It’s a great workbench – I’ve gotten to see it in person – and Will is a great woodworker.