In Chris Schwarz Blog, Handplane Techniques, Handplanes, Schwarz on Workbenches

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I’ve always been an advocate for low workbenches, especially for planing operations. My workbench is at 34″ (and while standing on my horse stall mat it’s 33″). And I’ve become quite fond of Megan’s bench, which is at 30″ (horse mat included).

But I can tell you that 16″ is just too low. Yes, you really can get your weight right over the plane at 16″, but then there’s the problem of the occasional and inadvertent somersault.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 16 comments

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  • James Watriss

    I want footage.

  • Rich

    Hi Chris!
    What possessed you to try planing that low? On a different subject, I’m eager to hear about the workbench for apartment dwellers. I have an application for one in my den… it’s too darn hot in the summertime here in Las Vegas to work in the garage. We’re just now getting into good woodworking weather here. Finally, I’m back in the shop!

  • Aaron Cashion


    Did you bust out the Lie-Nielsen outfit for the photoshoot? Either way the bench looks fantastic.

  • Stephen Kirk

    I tried getting some horse stall mats but they are really difficult to pull out from under the horse.

    Maybe if you stacked all the mats up and put the bench on them it would be at a good height.

  • AAAndrew

    I wonder if you could clamp the bench to some of your sturdy saw horses to get it higher?

    Who definitely wouldn’t want to do any gymnastics while holding an infill.

  • megan

    On the few occasions I’m able to spend hours at my bench, I love the horse mats; they truly cut down on fatigue. For the far more numerous occasions that I’m running through the shop on the way to the copy machine, I trip over them. (I do, however, plan to get some for my basement)

  • Jeremy Kriewaldt


    The east way is obviously to clamp your smoothing plane upside down in the wagon vice with the sole level with the bench top surface, and run the work over the bench top – then it will all be at the right height!


  • Christopher Schwarz


    I cannot speak for the rest of the staff, but for me the horse stall mats are a home run. They are heavy, grippy and negate the concrete in every way. I can stand on them for hours without the same fatigue I get from concrete.

    In other words, worth every penny.


  • Tristan Raymond

    Why don’t you try standing on a No. 8 and have one of your subordinates push you.

  • Doug Fulkerson

    How are the horse stall mats working out anyway???


  • dave brown

    That bench would give Adam Cherubini the extra downforce he needs with his 8oz smoothing planes.

    Somehow he says that an 8oz smoother + a 200lb man is better than a 7lb bronze smoother. 😉

  • David

    Is that a new infill plane you’re using? Maybe a to-be reviewed plane? I might as well start picking a fight now since she’s going to be on a tear pretty soon anyways.

  • Charlton

    Well, since you have enough material for two of these benches, put one of these bad boys onto Megan’s bench and then stand on the other one to balance things out. When you’re done planing one, swap them and repeat.

    I’d still like to see a video of the somersault.

  • Anthony

    Maybe if you were to add some ballast to those back pockets, you’d be able to keep down on the shop gymnastics. Of course, maybe that’s the fun.

  • Ron Boe

    What!? No movie showing the somersault? Where is that alert reader when we need him?


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