Chris Schwarz's Blog

Portable Benches for Servicemen

mmWorkbench3

As my dad is a Vietnam vet, I’ve always had a soft spot for the men and women in the armed forces. So when I heard from several of them that they were interested in buying one of my portable workbenches, I thought I could do better than sell them something.

I enlisted the help of woodworkers Steve Schafer and Mark Hochstein, who volunteered their time and materials to build these benches for the two servicemen.

Both Steve and Mark have completed their benches and are in the process of getting them to their recipients. One of the benches Steve built is shown above. You can see Mark’s on his blog: Gunpowder Woodworks.

So thanks to Steve and Mark – you have both made it possible for someone to do woodworking in a place that is entirely unfriendly to the craft.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Plans for this workbench will be in the June 2013 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, which will be out very, very soon.

15 thoughts on “Portable Benches for Servicemen

  1. Jackie Guynn

    This sounds great my one question is now big is the portable bench? When at home the size and weight isn’t a problem but being restricted to two duffle bags and a ruck sack doesn’t leave much room. Of course any good troop will find a way, my question is small enough to pack or do I need to talk to the motor sergeant or the supply sergeant when we relocate from base to base? – USArmy

    1. Steve_OH

      Not including the protruding vise handles, it’s 7-3/8″ X 30″ X 1-5/8″. The two pieces of angle bracket that allow for clamping to a bench or table add about an inch in width and length, but can be removed easily enough. The vise knobs add roughly 2-1/2″. The front ones come right out; the end one is held in via wooden garter, which may or may not be easily removable, depending on how it’s attached (it’s removable on the one that I built).

      -Steve

  2. yoseph76

    Hey everyone,
    I wanted to say thank you for the support that this community shows towards our service members. It is awesome and greatly appreciated.

    I normally dislike playing on peoples’ sympathies for the military, but I am making an exception for this project. I’m active duty Army (14 years) and I’d really like to get started in hand tool work. I’ve made a bed and some bookshelves with powertools, but I’d really like to work wood and not lose any more of my hearing (I was artillery my first few years). I had planned on working up to building my own roubo workbench, but how do you start with hand tools if you don’t really have a workbench to learn/practice on?

    If anyone else is interested in making one of these Milkman’s Workbenches, please let me know. I would help out with materials/shipping. And it goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyways) that I would be hugely appreciative. And you could feel like you were paying it forward because I will build a copy cat and send it to my little brother-in-law that is stationed in Alaska. Thanks!

    Joe Anderson
    U.S. Army

  3. Lbhunter63@aol.com

    Greetings fellow creators of dust of the saw! Just dropping a line to thank you…I’m on my 32nd year of a very rewarding career in the US military. I’ve taken troops to many parts of the world and have had the privilege of commanding some of the finest men and women our world has to offer. To see this out-pouring of support to our folks “in the mix” validates why we do what we do and we can’t do what we do without the support of our citizenry. We’re all privileged to live in the greatest nation this world has ever known. Thank you for your kindness, your generosity and your thoughtfulness. I’m proud to serve and I’m proud to stand with the likes of fellow woodworkers like yourselves. Cut ‘em straight!

  4. dmac4870

    To All,

    From a serviceman’s (Navy) perspective, thank you all for your support, it makes a difference and means a lot. When I was deployed to Afghanistan it was unbelievable how many unsolicited care packages would arrive with goodies, and even more. That made a huge difference during some very long months. Seeing that support continue at home is just above and beyond and speaks volumes to the character of the community.

    Thank you all again.

    Very Respectfully,
    Derek

    PS
    I am SO looking forward to the June issue and will definitely try my hand at building the bench! and just in time for another move!

  5. dndculp

    We have an active woodworking group who contribute their efforts to community projects. We have built built everything from bird houses to 18 reproduction windows for an historic log cabin.
    If there are other Vets who would like to have portable work benches let me know, we could do a couple.

    1. caperry88

      I have been in the Air force for 7 years, and started doing little wood project in my garage. I would definitley be interested in getting one of these benches that way when I try to make one with the plans I would have a good example as that is how myst of my projects are developed.

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