July 1997: Jim Stuard’s Bullet-proof Bench. The title is based not only on the weight and strength of this bench, but on the bullets Jim found in the 10/4 maple as he milled the stock for the top.
“Popular Workbenches” is often suggested as a title revision for the magazine, given the number of workbench plans we’ve offered over the years. And it’s true that we have published a generous number of them – but every one is different! And given that a worksurface of some kind is integral to any workshop, well, it’s a perennially important topic.
So in this post, just for fun (and to procrastinate on a spreadsheet I have to dig into today), I’m listing every workbench we’ve ever published in Popular Woodworking Magazine and Woodworking Magazine (the first one, from 1997, is above). Also, I think it’s fun to see how the design of the magazine pages has changed over the years.
February 2001: This was, as far a I can tell, the first bench Christopher Schwarz built for Popular Woodworking. If you build it today, it will cost you around $260.
August 2002: Power-tool Workbench. This one (built by Christopher Schwarz) was “my” bench when I first joined the staff; I used it until I built my own in 2009 (see below).
December 2003: The 24-hour bench, by Christopher Schwarz and Kara Gebhardt.
Woodworking Magazine Autumn 2005: The Southern yellow pine Roubo…the first of a gazillion Roubo workbenches Christopher has since birthed.
Woodworking Magazine Autumn 2007: This historic form (built here by Christopher Schwarz) is from Charles Holtzapffel’s 1875 “Holtzapffel’s Construction, Action and Application of Cutting Tools, Volume II.”
December 2007: This Shaker-inspired workbench by Glen Huey offers plenty of storage. (Is it wrong that I would like this as my kitchen island, minus the vises and dog holes?)
October 2008: Bob Lang’s ash bench features a tool well down the center with removable trays; they can be flipped over to create a solid worksurface.
November 2009: This bench has aged better than its primary user (I built this with lots of help from Christopher Schwarz), and it’s the one I still use in our shop.
August 2010: On the cover, we call this a “Burly French Workhorse,” and it is. But it looks downright petite next to some of the other benches Christopher has built.
June 2013: This little tabletop bench by Christopher Schwarz can hold a 19″-wide panel in its twin-screw vise.
November 2015. This is the least-expensive full-sized bench in the bunch – and it’s a quick build.
February 2017. Bill Rainford’s beefed-up version of Tage Frid’s bench was our most recent.
Note that some of the above are collected in “The Workbench Design Book,” followed by a two-page critique of each bench after years of use. A couple others are in the revised edition of “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction and Use“; in that book, you’ll also find photos and illustrations that weren’t in the magazine, new information on workholding and more – plus a behemoth of a French bench that’s not been in our magazines.
But…surely we’ve written more about workbenches? Well, yes. The “English Nicholson Workbench,” for example, is in “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction and Use” – but we never published it in either magazine. And Christopher has written a lot on his blog about workbench builds, and you’ve seen me build a bench on the blog as well, and add a Sheldon vise to it – the 6′-long Roubo bench that’s in my basement. (And if I ever finish my bathrooms, I’ll have time to build another bench. I now have room for an 8′- or 9′-long one in my basement shop. I’ll want that before I tackle the kitchen.) Plus, there are bench videos. Plus it’s possible I missed one! (Do let me know if that’s the case.)
— Megan Fitzpatrick