Workbenches: From Design And Theory To Construction And Use (Popular Woodworking) | Woodworking Plans
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Workbenches: From Design And Theory To Construction And Use (Popular Woodworking)

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Workbenches: From Design And Theory To Construction And Use (Popular Woodworking)

FEATURED Workbenches: From Design And Theory To Construction And Use (Popular Woodworking)

Two Centuries of Workbench Wisdom in One Book!

With this book, your very first workbench will do everything you need it to do—possibly for the rest of your woodworking career!

Encompassing years of historical research and real-world trials, Christopher Schwarz boils down centuries of the history and engineering of workbenches into basic ideas that all woodworkers can use.

  • Learn how to design your own world-class workbench
  • Learn the fundamental rules of good workbench design that have been largely forgotten
  • Learn how to build an inexpensive and practical bench that hasn’t been in widespread use for over 100 years
  • Learn how to properly use any workbench

These old-school benches are simpler than modern benches, easier to build and perfect for both power and hand tools.

Beginning woodworkers can build either of these benches. The technical drawings are clear and show every detail. Using the step-by-step instructions, you will be amazed at how easily these workbenches can be constructed.

About Author: Eric Balbuena

Hi, my name is Eric and I love woodworking since a few months ago. I created this blog to my hobby over the internet.

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2 responses to "Workbenches: From Design And Theory To Construction And Use (Popular Woodworking)"

  1. Mickey Shipwreck says:
    91 of 99 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A truly remarkable woodworking book, November 16, 2007
    By 
    Mickey Shipwreck (Island J, Brigstocke Township, N. Ontario) –
    This review is from: Workbenches: From Design And Theory To Construction And Use (Popular Woodworking) (Hardcover)

    As an avid reader of Christopher Schwarz’s various articles and columns in woodworking magazines, I’ve been awaiting the publication of this book with anticipation. Now that I’ve read it I have to say that it’s better than I expected, and my expectations were very high.

    I’ve read a number of books and articles on workbenches (notably the ones by Lon Schleining and Scott Landis, which are valuable for what they are: surveys of various styles of workbenches, with info on how to build a few of them). This book is different. Not just a little different. Radically different.

    Schwarz is not just a good writer. He is an extremely good writer, vastly better than the majority of writers about woodworking; better than most writers, period. He is not merely capable of explaining things clearly, or of organizing his text coherently. His writing is actually enjoyable to read. He has the ability to combine highly technical information with a kind of narrative structure, within which personal experience, historical research and theoretical conceptualization come together almost seamlessly. One could describe the book as almost an essay in the classical, Montaignesque sense: a personal, spiraling account of a particular subject, whose compelling structure takes the reader along on a wide-ranging voyage of discovery, and makes the reader a companion of the author as he works out his own thinking. However, this should not be understood as saying that the book is in any way vague, for it isn’t. I mean to underline its powerfully engaging quality. I believe somebody who wasn’t a woodworker, who had no plans whatsoever to construct a workbench, would enjoy reading it.

    Schwarz is also a gifted scholar and theoretician, a trait not typical of woodworkers, of writers about woodworking. The evidence of his thorough research and profound thought on his subject abounds in the book. His conceptualization of the workbench as a tool for holding lumber so that its 3 different surfaces (edges, faces, and ends) can be worked is a recognition that you won’t find anywhere else, and one that animates the entire book. It may sound simple, even obvious, but so does the second law of thermodynamics.

    The book provides designs and construction overviews of 2 very different benches, which may seem a paltry number of options. It is not. Schwarz has distilled years of research and bench-building into these 2 designs, and offers plenty of options along the way as to how one might alter them to suit one’s own purposes. The illustrations are abundant, clear and useful. Numerous sidebars provide detailed and helpful insight into a variety of sub- or side-topics (eg. Find a source for yellow pine; Pattern-maker’s vises: friend or foe?; The Stanley No. 203 – better than a peg). The index is extensive.

    Anybody familiar with Schwarz from his hand-tool courses and DVDs knows that he is a formidable woodworker and teacher. Those qualities resound through this book, as does his engaging ability to be personal, as does his earnestness, as does his good humor. I’ve always learned easily from him, and this book continues that trend.

    The first bench I ever built was from an article of Schwarz’s called “The $175 Workbench,” published in Popular Woodworking in 2000. I still have it, and use it every day. I will be building another one soon, using an adaptation of one of the designs outlined in this book; this book which will accompany me along the way, like a friend. Perhaps this sounds a bit loopy, but read the book and tell me you don’t share the feeling.

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  2. Timothy N. dePlume says:
    27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Sets a New Benchmark for Design Considerations, February 24, 2008
    By 
    Timothy N. dePlume (South Bend, Indiana) –
    This review is from: Workbenches: From Design And Theory To Construction And Use (Popular Woodworking) (Hardcover)

    Workbenches: From Design and Theory to Construction and Use is an accurately titled, insightful book about craftsmanship in a woodworking shop, written by a prolific young author who happens also to be editor of Popular Woodworking magazine. Workbench design is the backdrop Schwarz chooses this time to set the stage for an energetic discussion about woodcraft, his favorite topic. The author has researched, built and used many styles and variations of the woodworker’s workbench, and he shares incisive observations about what works, what doesn’t, and why.

    Building a really good woodworker’s workbench is far too much labor to undertake without first reading a couple of good books on the topic, and this book should be first among them. Schwarz raises several issues that I thought, incorrectly, I had already fully considered based on the oodles of time I had invested in thinking about, researching and drawing bench designs. Before I read this book, I had already resolved to build a certain general style of workbench. Although reading the book didn’t alter my basic conception, it did lead to several important design changes.

    Some examples: Before I read the book, I hadn’t considered the benefit of aligning the front of the benchtop with the front side of the front legs. I altered my design a bit to make sure the ends of the vise handles at rest would be slightly below the plane of the benchtop so as not to interfere with handplanes, knuckles and flat workpieces that extend beyond the benchtop. I decided to do more extensive testing of different bench heights, as Schwarz cautions that a couple of inches too high or too low can make a world of difference to a woodworker’s lower back and thus to his or her enjoyment of the craft. The author advises to think carefully about the spacing between screws when installing a twin-screw vise, and thus I added another 4″ between them. My benchtop grew from 1.75″ to a full 3″ thick. After much agonizing, I decided to accept the author’s counsel and dispense with a tool tray. (In the end analysis, I realized I had craved a tool tray more for its cool traditional look than for its utility.) I reduced the width of the top from 30″ to 24″. I downsized the height of the cabinets I am building beneath the top, to allow more space for clamps and other workholding devices that protrude from the bottom of the benchtop. The bench is not yet complete, but I’m now confident that when it’s finished I will be happy using it for a lifetime.

    The workbench is a simple tool, but designing one requires careful planning for a plethora of variables. Others the book considers include: Species of wood, preparation and acclimatization of stock, types of shoulder vises and tail vises, placement of vises and design of bench jaws, bench mobility and stability, joinery of the top, joinery of the base, joinery of top to base, flatness and squareness and wood movement, workholding requirements, wooden benchdogs or metal, round dogholes or square, doghole placement, cabinets or shelves or none, finishing, height and handedness and craft preferences of the user. The failure to consider each of these design issues before you build your bench is an invitation to some pesky little nag to come sit on your shoulder and complain about this flaw or that in the way your bench functions, just when you should be enjoying your work.

    The author offers useful pros-and-cons explanations of the alternatives for each design consideration. The author’s thoughts are usually supported by his own experience or his evidently careful thought about what matters and why. Schwarz is alternately an iconoclast who lays bare the shortcomings of some of the most historically popular bench designs, and a traditionalist who in the end admonishes the reader to choose wisely but “Invent Nothing!”

    This is a good read for the lover of woodcraft, by the way, even if you don’t intend to design and build your own bench. Schwarz’s self-description as “an amateur woodworker and a professional journalist” tells a great deal about his approach and why it has been so successful. Schwarz does not want to assume the position of expert woodworker, though his accumulation of experience certainly qualifies him as an expert in several aspects of woodworking. He prefers to take the perspective of the independent observer, the scientist who gathers evidence by interviewing others and testing hypotheses and reporting conclusions.

    I enjoy the author’s crisp writing style and his refreshing nonprescriptive attitude. He reports the facts as objectively as he is able, and he doesn’t insist on the tired presumption of authority claimed by more dogmatic woodcraft authors: “I will show you the one true and correct way, as taught by my elders. All others are inferior and we needn’t consider them.” Instead he says, “This is a way that has worked particularly well for me…

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