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Green Wood and Roubo Workbenches, Part 2

Seasoned, well-dried wood is good, but not for all things. For the last two years I’ve been editing a book called “Woodworking in Estonia,” which is about the pre-industrial woodworking cultural heritage of a small Northern European nation. The book is not a review of the historical literature sprinkled with speculation about how people...

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A Roubo Workbench from Green Wood

Here is a question that has been going through my mind for more than a decade: When an 18th-century French woodworker started building a workbench, what was the moisture content of the wood? Had it been seasoned for many years? Freshly cut? Something between? Lots of modern people have speculated about the answer, but...

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Shaker Workbench No. 2 at Pleasant Hill

The first workbench I encountered at Pleasant Hill was a little non-standard by Shaker standards, but the second workbench was unusual by most any measuring stick for modern workbenches. It is a bit Roman, a bit English and has a lot of other interesting details worth thinking about. Let’s take a look at some...

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Shaker Workbench No. 1 at Pleasant Hill

When most people discuss Shaker workbenches, they conjure up images of massive cabinets with drawers and doors that are topped by a workbench top – plus a tail vise, leg vise and probably a sliding deadman. This form of workbench shows up in many of the East Coast Shaker communities, but in the Western...

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Big Workbenches Need Big Machines

This week a team of 25 woodworkers is in Barnesville, Ga., to build 17 massive French workbenches using ancient oak imported from France and every bit of machinery muscle we can get. I love hand tools, but when it comes to moving around 400-pound slabs of oak, I’m happy to see a forklift coming...

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First Look: ‘Workbenches, Revised Edition’

ShopWoodworking.com is now taking pre-orders for the new revised edition of “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use” for $34.99 plus free domestic shipping. The book will be released on or about Oct. 20. I spent several months earlier this year on the revision to the book and am quite pleased with...

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Chinese Workbenches – a Little Bit Roman?

When you start studying ancient woodworking tools, it’s the similarities that are most striking – not the differences. Saws, chisels and planes – the core tools of the furniture maker – are only mildly different in the East and West. While some people amplify those differences – pushing a saw vs. pulling it is...

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A Benefit of an Out-of-flat Workbench

I’ve been putting off the inevitable chore of flattening my workbench – I have a low spot that is interfering with my ability to handplane thin panels. But this time, I’m going to allow a high spot to remain high because it has proven to be useful. Like many French workbenches with the traditional...

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Revising my First Book, ‘Workbenches’

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...