It seems, well, insane that I would want to build another workbench. But it’s your fault. Really.
After my book “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use” came out in 2007, there was one significant criticism from readers that hit home. Why didn’t I discuss knockdown workbenches in any detail?
It was a valid question. So much so that I wrote a free supplementary chapter for the book about knockdown hardware and the strategies for attaching the top to the base that would allow any bench to be broken down.
We are a mobile society, and moving a workbench is a valid concern.
So when Managing Editor Megan Fitzpatrick wanted to build a workbench, I insisted that it be able to knock down flat, plus it had to fulfill all the high expectations I have for a good workbench. After a couple hours of design work in SketchUp, I think I’ve come up with a bench that can be built quickly and easily — and be knocked down in about 10 minutes tops.
We’re hard at work on the bench this week, and I have to admit that it has been a cakewalk. It took us some time to laminate the top because we were interrupted by some special events and pesky magazine deadlines. However, with those behind us, things are moving quickly. The top is done. Today we assembled the entire base and started installing the hardware. I’ve never had a bench go together so quickly and easily. We probably have about 15 hours of shop time in the bench at this point.
One of the things that has made this project easy is that we are using laminated veneer lumber and a full suite of power tools.
Confession time: I have been hard at work on a hand-tool book since February 2009 and have hardly used an electric tool. It has been an enlightening journey, but I also have been itching to bust through some stock with the machinery in our shop.
For this bench, I vowed to build the sucker without picking up a plane or a chisel. And I’d kept my vow until today. We were fitting the nut block for the leg vise and it was about .003″ too wide. Instead of futzing around with the table saw I dressed the block with a jointer plane.
Megan made a “tsk” noise.
By the end of the workday on Tuesday we had the base entirely bolted together (wow is it stable). But the top stretchers were still a tad too proud of the tops of the legs for my liking. So I broke down again and started planing things with one of the new Stanley No. 4 smoothing planes. I was surprised how easily the adhesive in the LVL planed up. However, we’ll see how long the iron can withstand that sort of abuse.
As Megan and I wrapped up the day we started debating what to name the bench when we publish the plans in the November 2009 issue of Popular Woodworking. Megan suggested the “Cheap & Easy Workbench.” I did not make that up. I countered with the “Franken-Roubo Bench” because of all the bolts. Megan came up with “La Petite Roubo,” to which I wondered “What, no early modern English name?”
We’re at a loss for a name for the bench. If you have one, post it in the comments before midnight Aug. 3. If we pick yours we’ll send you an autographed copy of my book on workbenches and our eternal thanks (which also fits in a No. 10 envelope).
– Christopher Schwarz