Bob Lang’s work over many years at Popular Woodworking Magazine is so rich and storied that it is hard to know where to start an article about the man. He is a renowned expert on both classic Arts & Crafts furniture and Google SketchUp modeling – expertise that shows his amazing range as a woodworker and designer, if you think about it. And Bob is just as agile when it comes to tools. He is a true hybrid woodworker – perhaps 60/40 in favor of power tools, but an amazing teacher of core hand-tool skills and the use of a blended shop.
So I decided to start this post where a woodworker starts any project – at the workbench. Bob’s bench is a modified Nicholson, dubbed the “21st-century Workbench,” and there are two huge advantages that I can see in this design. I give them to you in Bob’s own words here. Click on each point to visit the original blog sources and gain more insight on this practical, agile approach to the craft.
1. “I didn’t need a bench to build my bench. I made the top first, then placed that on a pair of horses.” (click here for the original article)
2. “A good workbench should be able to hold common furniture parts easily and securely so you can work on them. Drawers are pretty common and before I had this bench I cobbled together all sorts of devices and gizmos to hang onto a drawer to clean up the joints and plane down the sides. Now I just pull out one of the tool trays (you can see it leaning against the end of the bench in the photo at left) and slide the drawer box over the end of the bench. The drawer is at the same height as any other work, I can get at it from all sides, and most important, the corner is supported on the inside. I use a holdfast when cleaning up the joints – that lets me come in from any angle.” (click here for the original article)
Bob implies in one of his blog titles that there are at least 27 advantages to his workbench design. I have no doubt he is sincere. If you get that same sense, and want to start building in this mode, we have a great value right now with the “Bob Lang Collection.” The pack includes the full plans for the “21st-century Workbench,” along with many, many other projects. Buy it now and jumpstart your learning!