Chris Schwarz's Blog

The Milkman’s Workbench in Use

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The Milkman’s Workbench – a portable bench I built for the June 2013 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine – is about 653 percent better than my first workbench.

Thanks to the clever engineering in the portable bench, it can handle most handwork tasks when clamped to a dining room table or kitchen countertop. My first workbench – a heavy door on sawhorses – could do only a fraction of these task.

To demonstrate its capabilities, I attached the portable bench to my dining room table. This is a worst-case scenario. My dining table is a lightweight trestle table that has little mass. The table is made well with good joints, but I built it for eating – not dovetailing.

If you watch the accompanying video, you’ll see the tabletop move a bit under the pressure of handplaning. From the user’s perspective, you don’t feel this. It just feels like regular handplaning on a pretty sturdy bench.

Likewise, when dovetailing, you can see the table vibrate a bit. Again, this is something exaggerated by the camera and not something you even notice when doing the work.

When you clamp this portable bench to a kitchen countertop or a dining table with four legs (instead of two), it’s as sturdy as an old-school workbench.

While I wouldn’t trade my 350-pound French behemoth bench for the Milkman’s Workbench, I am certain it would be an outstanding bench for an apartment-dweller, a nomadic woodworker or anyone else who doesn’t have room for a dedicated workshop.

Check out the issue in the ShopWoodworking store here that features the plans. You can also read other blog entries about this portable workbench here.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. I call this bench the “Milkman’s Workbench” because the original version that I copied was owned by a milkman in Denmark. The music in the video is from the Black Twig Pickers.

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