‘Popular Workbench Magazine’

workbench

July 1997: Jim Stuard’s Bullet-proof Bench. The title is based not only on the weight and strength of this bench, but on the bullets Jim found in the 10/4 maple as he milled the stock for the top.

“Popular Workbenches” is often suggested as a title revision for the magazine, given the number of workbench plans we’ve offered over the years. And it’s true that we have published a generous number of them – but every one is different! And given that a worksurface of some kind is integral to any workshop, well, it’s a perennially important topic.

So in this post, just for fun (and to procrastinate on a spreadsheet I have to dig into today), I’m listing every workbench we’ve ever published in Popular Woodworking Magazine and Woodworking Magazine (the first one, from 1997, is above). Also, I think it’s fun to see how the design of the magazine pages has changed over the years.

February 2001: This was, as far a I can tell, the first bench Christopher Schwarz built for Popular Woodworking. If you build it today, it will cost you around $260.

workbench

August 2002: Power-tool Workbench. This one (built by Christopher Schwarz) was “my” bench when I first joined the staff; I used it until I built my own in 2009 (see below).

December 2003: The 24-hour bench, by Christopher Schwarz and Kara Gebhardt.

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Woodworking Magazine Autumn 2005: The Southern yellow pine Roubo…the first of a gazillion Roubo workbenches Christopher has since birthed.

Woodworking Magazine Autumn 2007: This historic form (built here by Christopher Schwarz) is from Charles Holtzapffel’s 1875 “Holtzapffel’s Construction, Action and Application of Cutting Tools, Volume II.”

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December 2007: This Shaker-inspired workbench by Glen Huey offers plenty of storage. (Is it wrong that I would like this as my kitchen island, minus the vises and dog holes?)

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October 2008: Bob Lang’s ash bench features a tool well down the center with removable trays; they can be flipped over to create a solid worksurface.

November 2009: This bench has aged better than its primary user (I built this with lots of help from Christopher Schwarz), and it’s the one I still use in our shop.

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August 2010: On the cover, we call this a “Burly French Workhorse,” and it is. But it looks downright petite next to some of the other benches Christopher has built.

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June 2013: This little tabletop bench by Christopher Schwarz can hold a 19″-wide panel in its twin-screw vise.

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November 2015. This is the least-expensive full-sized bench in the bunch – and it’s a quick build.

February 2017. Bill Rainford’s beefed-up version of Tage Frid’s bench was our most recent.

Note that some of the above are collected in “The Workbench Design Book,” followed by a two-page critique of each bench after years of use. A couple others are in the revised edition of “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction and Use“; in that book, you’ll also find photos and illustrations that weren’t in the magazine, new information on workholding and more – plus a behemoth of a French bench that’s not been in our magazines.

But…surely we’ve written more about workbenches? Well, yes. The “English Nicholson Workbench,” for example, is in “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction and Use” – but we never published it in either magazine. And Christopher has written a lot on his blog about workbench builds, and you’ve seen me build a bench on the blog as well, and add a Sheldon vise to it – the 6′-long Roubo bench that’s in my basement. (And if I ever finish my bathrooms, I’ll have time to build another bench. I now have room for an 8′- or 9′-long one in my basement shop. I’ll want that before I tackle the kitchen.) Plus, there are bench videos. Plus it’s possible I missed one! (Do let me know if that’s the case.)

— Megan Fitzpatrick

15 thoughts on “‘Popular Workbench Magazine’

  1. prov163

    I’m glad to see all of the workbench articles in PW. I’m planning on building a new one soon and these articles have helped me narrow down what I like and don’t like. I also really appreciate Chris’ historical approach to understanding why craftspeople of old built their benches in a particular way – plus I have no intention of reading Ruobo’s L’Art Du Menusier or even learn to pronounce it 🙂 Keep the articles coming!

  2. gdblake

    Forget building a toolbox into the base they are a hassle to use. Just go with the shelf to act as a stretcher and build a separate toolbox that will fit on top of the shelf, but can be pulled out and set anywhere to give quicker access to the tools inside.

  3. marknoakes

    Many workbench articles are fine. Please don’t change a thing. While I’d like a Roubo, time limitations dictate the English bench for now. They are all good for future ideas.

  4. tpobrienjr

    “Popular Dovetails”, “Popular Loose-Tenon Joinery”, or “Popular Obsessive Sharpening”?
    I guess it’s too late for “Popular Over-Arm Routers”.
    I’ve enjoyed every one of PW’s workbench articles.

  5. Andrew E

    A timely post! I’m planning to build the knockdown Nicholson this spring. I had no idea it had both an article in the magazine and a section in Chris’s book. I’ll have to pick up one or the other… or both. I’d just been working from the generously provide plans and info on Chris’s blog.

  6. Tedstor

    I’ve been meaning to build one of those English workbenches ever since Schwarz wrote that article. I’d probably try to incorporate some sort of piano-hinged tool box into the base though. Or maybe I’ll just build it as shown. In any case….I’m motivated now……off to the lumber yard.

    1. Megan FitzpatrickMegan Fitzpatrick Post author

      Excellent – you won’t be sorry! Except maybe with the piano-hinged tool box…Chris put one on his 18th-century cherry Roubo, and it’s always buried under a miter box or two and other assorted tools and appliances 🙂 But perhaps you have other places to stash such things!

      1. NuneRex

        How to you like the Moravian workbench? I am currently building one now from some pallet 4″ x 4″‘s that I have been able to obtain. Excited about beginning this new hobby.

        1. Megan FitzpatrickMegan Fitzpatrick Post author

          I’ve not worked on that form, so I can’t comment from experience – but I’ve not heard anyone say they _didn’t_ like it

  7. Christopher SchwarzChristopher Schwarz

    I cannot remember the issue number, but David Thiel built a portable, knockdown workbench that was supported by two roll-around cabinets (one of those cabinets is now my outfeed table…).

    1. Megan FitzpatrickMegan Fitzpatrick Post author

      Yeah – I vacillated as to whether that should be considered a workbench given that there’s no workholding, dog holes, etc. (August 2001: Storage & Assembly Bench.)Storage and assembly bench

      1. Tommyreese

        A few years ago, I was looking for a workbench plan, and i went with Robert Lang’s Shaker Workbench. It is classic and very functional. Best of all I made it form 100% reclaimed material.

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