In Christopher Schwarz’s new book Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use, Chris talks about Thomas Stangeland‘s working on a makeshift bench. My story is quite similar. Although I’ve made my living (if you call that living) as a woodworker for more than 30 years, I’ve never worked on a nice bench on a regular basis. The closest I’ve come was a maple butcher-block slab on a 2 x 4 base with a quick-release vise. Most of the time, it’s been something makeshift and I employ some novel ways of holding work , plane stops stuck down with narrow crown staples, clamps holding clamps holding the work, and I’ve even been known to sit on things to keep them in place. It’s about time I had the bench I’ve always wanted, and I’ve been working off and on drawing one for about a year. I’m close to a final design and I’ll be building it for an upcoming article in Popular Woodworking.
Here is what I have in mind, a combination of features that appeal to me and fit the way I work. It has some similarities to the benches you’ve seen in Popular Woodworking and Woodworking Magazine in the last couple years, with a few twists. Like the Roubo bench, the legs are flush with the front of the 3″-thick top. It also has some details lifted from the Nicholson bench. I’ve moved the apron that is prominent in the Nicholson down and left a gap between it and the top. This will allow me to clamp stuff to the front of the bench, and still reach in to clamp things down to the top.
In the center are four removable, reversible boxes. These will function as tool trays, but when they fill up with junk they can be removed for cleaning, or reversed to fill the area between the two long slabs of the top. I’m hoping this is a viable solution to my love/hate relationship with tool trays. The other advantage of taking them out at times is to provide yet another place to clamp to. I’ll also be able to slide drawer boxes over an end of one of the outer sections to work on them before the bottoms go in.
So let me know what you think. Suggestions are welcome , you can leave a comment here or send me an e-mail. I’m still deciding some issues; I haven’t yet settled on vises and I’m thinking of adding a shelf at both the bottom rails and at the bottom of the rails across the front. No cabinets though , that’s a separate project I need to get back to. Everyone else in the shop is tired of working around the face frame I made last summer.
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