Chris Schwarz's Blog

Workbench News: Quick Video and a New Book

From outside the confines of our shop, the fact that I’m building another workbench might be interpreted as a cry for psychological help. After all, I already have my fair share of workbenches.

But there are some good reasons that I’d like to share with you. And believe me when I say that the problem here isn’t me, it’s you.

1. “Schwarz, your bench is too large.” One of the biggest complaints I get from readers is that there is no way they could fit an 8′-long Roubo-style workbench into their 6′-wide shop. Or they have to have the bench in a public space and can’t have some ugly construction-lumber thing where the guests can see it. This bench is an attempt to build a smaller, apartment-sized bench that will still do full-size work and looks nice enough for a public space.

2. “Dude, I don’t have power tools.” Another criticism: The benches I’ve built have used a combination of power and hand tools. What about the people who work entirely by hand? This bench is an attempt to document the hand process (I used a machine to deal with one nasty part of the top that I should have asked the sawyer to deal with).

3. “I need a place to put my tools.” This bench will have that. Stay tuned.

4. “What about other bench designs out there, such as John White’s “‘Newfangled Workbench?'” This bench won’t address that question, but a book I’m working on now will. Yes, you read that right, a new workbench book.

This book will be a companion to the book “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use.” The tentative title of the new book is “The Workbench Design Book.” It will contain complete plans for a bunch of workbenches we’ve published in the past with some updated information and new chapters.

We’ll have chapters that take about 20 common workbench designs (from the “Newfangled Workbench” to Frank Klausz’s workbench) and explain the pros and cons of each design (as I see it). I’m also going to re-draw these classic bench forms (blasphemer!) to show how they can be modified to be more effective.

And we’ll have a chapter on how to make your workbench knock down and an updated chapter on workholding , there have been a lot of new vises that have hit the market since 2007.

The book will be published later in 2010. More details to follow.

We’re also making a DVD that will document the construction of this old-school Roubo bench. Glen Huey has filmed every step of the process (except when I used the band saw. I still feel dirty about that).

As of today, the top of my old-school Roubo workbench is complete, and I am itching to get started on the legs. These will be joined to the top with a sliding dovetail and tenon, which is going to be a lot of fun to cut, especially on this grand scale.

But before I get into that joinery, I wanted to give you a quick video tour of the top so you can see how the epoxy looks and the workholding I’ve installed so far. Take a look.

– Christopher Schwarz

18 thoughts on “Workbench News: Quick Video and a New Book

  1. Christopher Schwarz

    You really don’t need both a leg vise and crochet. So I’m starting with the leg vise here.

    We’ll see. Everything is a work in progress.

    Chris

  2. Bill T.

    Chris –

    Admitting you have a problem is the first step.

    I expect to see you on the TV show "Intervention" before too long.

    Of course, my wife already insists I’m a candidate for that show.

  3. Jerry

    I recently acquired an old quick release vise that was manufactured by the Columbian Vise and Mfg. Company of Cleveland Ohio. In that I already built and use daily a Frank Klause knock off bench (with wooden vise screws)from the Workbench Book I was perplexed as to how to use this great old vise.
    After listening to you Chris I realized its obveous. I need to make another bench!

  4. Bruce Jackson

    Hey William Tucker,

    There is a magazine I occasionally see on the stand at the local supermart – Workbench. But it’s not the same as our own "WorkBench Magazine". Chris was asleep at the switch when some other publisher beat him to the title.

    Do nothing
    Is full of many
    Great blessings.

    (from Tao Wood Ching)

  5. William Tucker

    Serious, Man, you need therapy……

    You seem to suffer from OCWBD……….

    Obsessive Compulsive Work Bench Disorder……..

    Thank God the rest of the ‘sane’ ( although I not so sure about Glen ) publishing staff didn’t let you rename the publication ………….

    WorkBench Magazine

  6. Steven Schultz

    Chris, just wanted to let you know that I WILL buy your new book even though I have your current workbench book and also the Landis and Schleinging books. I guess I too need some psychological aid. Why would I need another workbench book from you? The best answer I can give is that I enjoy everything you write: the information you provide with your inescapable brand of humor. I have kept putting off the actual construction of my new workbench (my rustic 1970’s version keeps puttering along); I want to make sure I haven’t left out any important details in my 22nd century plan. Just another workbench book by you I think will do it this time, or maybe not. We’ll see.

  7. les winter

    Hi Chris.

    Any details available on the cool saw horses holding up the new workbench?

    thanks
    Les

  8. Anders Malm

    A new book on workbenches, very nice! (honey – do you remeber what I said about this would be the last workbench I would build? Well, you know this Schwarz guy… Honey?)

    Lets hope the book will be out for christmas.

    Anders Malm

  9. Jared Wayne

    Dude Chris it’s All GOOD Keep building those bad ass work benches and inspiring young guys like me!!! Coarse, Medium Fine Changed my life! Its has helped me push through some projects I never thought I could imagine building and has introduced me to hand tools which has brought so much more pleasure to the whole process!! I watch the benches being built through the blog and just the processes teach so much.

    I am in the process of building a Nakashima inspired trestle table for my mom right now. Your recent endeavor, the hand tools built roubo has lead to some awesome posts that helped me hog out and mill the lumber for my moms table base. I had no clue how to safely dimension the huge 12/4 walnut slabs that are now the leg stock!

    So anyway there are those of us out there that can’t wait for the next blog post r.e. your current bench being built, and can’t wait for the next one to be built…. What’s next? the 12′ roubo/dominy monster?!?!?!

  10. David Chidester

    I’m stoked! I just started reading your first workbench book recently, and as I’ve neared the end, I began feeling bummed that there wasn’t much left. Now I have another book to look forward to!
    I’ve been reading your blogs about your latest bench with especial interest, since my garage space is limited and it’s about the size I plan to build my first bench. It’ll be either a Roubo or Holtzapffel, with a shoulder vise as the face vise, since I plan to do a lot of dovetailing.
    With regards to that, I’m not sure how to build a shoulder vise into either of those benches. Maybe that would be something you could include in your new book, or in a blog entry. It would be a huge help for me. I’d like to build it into my bench without an addition leg, if possible. What do you think Chris?
    Keep up the great writing!

    David Chidester

    P.S. Your new book should have an advisory at the beginning, something like
    Warning: The building of woodworking benches can be addicting. Pursuing knowledge of said workbenches, learning the skills necessary to build and use them, and their construction can become a time consuming obsession.

  11. Stanton Ray

    Do I dare ask? Will your book cover Japanese-type benches? Talk about versatile and easy to put away when company comes for dinner! I use western and Japanese tools on mine.

    – Stanton Ray

  12. david levine

    Hiya,

    I don’t think that there’s any need to explain your obsession; it’s shared by other people, too.

    No bench is perfect – but there are three things that any workbench has to have: weight, rigid stability, and work-holding capacity.

    The key factor is, of course, work-holding capacity. There are three basic ways to hold the wood: pinched between dogs, pinned to the benchtop, and clamped in a vise. The piece needs to be kept stable so that it can be worked safely and with precision. Once these basic points have been addressed then there are a variety of ways to solve the problem. The solution largely depends on personal preference and aesthetic choice.

    For my two-cents’ worth, the position of the bench in the workshop is actually a trickier problem to resolve. Keeping the work surface freed from the build-up of junk is a constant issue for me. I’ve had my present bench up-against-the-wall for a while now and think that my earlier positioning with my previous workshop – in the middle of the shop – was more versatile and less likely to lead to cluttering.

  13. Jon Spelbring

    Oh, Chris.

    I’m not sure which is worse; building another workbench, or writing another workbench book. In any case, I look forward to reading it. Of course, now I have to actually use some of these books and tools that you’ve recommended – to build a(nother) bookcase to store my growing collection. And maybe a hanging toolbox for all of the planes and saws that you FORCED me to buy.

    Keep up the good work! 😉

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