Chris Schwarz's Blog

Be Seated: The Benchcrafted Swing-away Seat

Sitting at your workbench does not make you lazy. Many times it makes you smart.

Chopping out the waste between dovetails requires endurance and patience – especially when building a large piece of casework with drawers. If you sit while chopping, you conserve energy and your eyes are closer to your chisel, improving accuracy.

The same goes for mortising where exactitude is important. During the last few weeks I’ve been making marking gauges and mallets that require perfect mortises. Sitting down made this easier to accomplish.

The list goes on, including drawings and drafting while sitting at the bench.

Last year I added a vintage swinging seat to my French workbench so that a seat was always handy. It was a great upgrade for my bench. The only problem: Vintage seats can be expensive ($300 is typical). And, until recently, new ones were going for $500 or so.

Last month, Benchcrafted began selling its version, which is comprised of two nicely sand-cast pieces of iron and an optional oak seat. I purchased one (I accept no discounts or freebies) and installed it on my other workbench Sunday afternoon. It took me longer to drive to the hardware store to buy the bolts than it did to install the seat.

I installed the hardware using hardware store 1/2” x 6” bolts, washers and nuts. I ordered mine with the seat included, and it came drilled with the three holes required to attach it to the casting – plus the screws needed to do the job.

My only concern with the seat was if it would make the bench tippy when I sat on the seat. This particular bench is 6’ long and not as massive as my other benches. My guess is it weighs about 250 pounds. I weigh about 180. Result: No tippiness.

While adding a seat to my bench is great, the Benchcrafted Swing-away Seat has also inspired me to design a few pieces of furniture that incorporate this hardware, including a breakfast table for a small kitchen. At $199 ($249 with the seat), this piece of hardware is a bargain for what you get.

— Christopher Schwarz

11 thoughts on “Be Seated: The Benchcrafted Swing-away Seat

  1. RFbilliards

    I am in love with these seats. I can’t wait to add some to my shop. I think the only thing that could make them even better if the seat had some kind of screw post to adjust the seat height.

  2. REFFI

    I have a bench in my garage, but don’t do any woodworking at it because of its history (I used to repair my motorcycles at the bench). Someday, I’ll redo the top and add vises so that it can be used. For now, I work at my assembly table, or on platforms resting on saw horses (two different heights). I have two stools and a chair depending on which surface I’m working. None are sturdy enough for hand planing, so I’m going to have to (re)-build my bench real soon.

  3. amoscalie

    This is maybe just me, but when I was draftsman doing real drawings on a drafting board, I always preferred to stand instead of sit. Sitting seemed like it was more constricting. It is the same way at my workbench, I just prefer to stand and walk around. I had a stool at one time next to my workbench and was either always moving it because it was constantly in my way or I found myself just stacking stuff on it. So one day I took it to Goodwill and I have never missed it. But again, maybe this is just me.

    1. tsstahl

      Try keeping a properly sized (to you) saw bench near the big bench. You will sit a bit more often, but you will find yourself doing all manner of other useful things between the two bits of furniture.

  4. eslater2112@gmail.com

    I use a box used in Film and Television known as an apple box, as a seat. It’s the perfect hight for me at my bench. (There are dozens of other uses). A ‘full” apple is 8″x12″x20″, and a half apple is 4″x12″x20 and a quarter is 2″x12″x20″. While I have found many uses around my shop for them, I use the full apple mostly as an ass catcher.

      1. Danny

        The seat in the photo looks lower than 19″. Are you using the swing out seat to work on the bench top?

    1. gilgaron

      You know, since they already stock (make?) vise screws, an adjustable model does seem like a shoe in

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