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Woodworker James Oliver has built a massive workbench with French lines (tree trunk legs), English-style workholding (a twin-screw face vise) and some modern practicality (a quick-release vise in the end-vise position).

When I first posted photos of Oliver’s bench in January, readers wanted to see more photos , not only of the bench, but of the shop. Oliver, who works part-time for Coastal Carvings in Coombs, British Columbia, obliged with these two other views of his bench and shop. Click on the photos to see the full-size versions.

The layout for a hand-tool shop is pretty sweet. There’s a saw till at the right of the photo with planes above. The window directly behind the bench is also home to a rack with striking and boring tools. And check out the nice collection of chisels on the left.

For me, however, the best part is the floor. Our shop in Cincinnati has a concrete floor, as does my shop at home. Almost every year, I come up with some scheme to lay a wooden floor in both shops, but something (usually my love of eating meat once in a while) gets in the way.

Thanks to Oliver for these photos of another inspiring shop and bench.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 11 comments
  • Andrew Hood

    I am a bit confused.

    Was the bench turned around for the picture? It seems odd that all of the tools are behind the bench and difficult to reach. But if the bench were turned around he would be standing with his back to the window and casting a shadow on his work.

  • Swanz

    That answers my question also.

  • Christopher Schwarz


    That is the oil cup. You keep a little oil in a rag in the cu for lubricating plane soles and the like. It’s a traditional touch.


  • Will

    Cool bench and nice floor. Unbelievable saw bank!

    I’m curious what that black thing that hangs out under the left end of the bench in the upper photo and is tucked under in the lower photo?

  • Ron Ashford

    I built 4 very similar trestles (two pair at different heights) ex: 120mm x 48mm ply. Since I use a combination of machine and hand tools, I made these as stationary stands to stack timber on when using a buzzer (planner?), bench saw (table saw), etc. I have found these to be superior in stability and strength to traditional saw horses. I made provision to add an adjustable roller to each trestle to enable them to be used in tailing-off the machines. I am thrilled with the functionality of mine (they are not a patch on the beauty of Russ Merz’s), I would to consider even loaning these out *-))).

  • Matt Wilson

    That is a beautiful bench. what are the dimensions on the legs?

  • The Village Carpenter

    Even though any photo of a workbench will stop me in my tracks—THAT is a jaw-dropping workbench.

  • AAAndrew

    I find it interesting to see the bench pup under the face vise. Nice touch to have some support under a long piece as you work on it.


  • David

    Chris – Acutally the most interesting thing about the photos is the wide planing batten that’s cinched down in the face vise in the top photo. It’s DOVETAILED. James must obviously not have a boss standing behind him and tapping his fingers in the "hurry up" mode.

    It never even occurred to me to use anything but a couple of shop scraps and 3 square drive screws to make mine from the description in your book.

  • Swanz

    I’ve read plenty of "ultimate workbench" articles. That’s definitely my
    favorite dream bench. Thanks for the pics.

  • Eric

    If only the bench had a larger face vise…

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