In this month’s column, I want to talk about the workbench which is critical for the hand tool woodworker. When working with hand tools you learn very quickly that you must be able to hold in the wood in an effective manner to cut, plane, shape or otherwise work with the wood. Workbenches first and foremost, should be an effective wood holding device and the value they bring in the different wood holding scenarios directly relates to how well they do this job. My first exposure to formal information about workbenches was in the form of Scott Landis’ book, “The Workbench Book” first published in 1987 and displaying beautiful pictures of many different types of workbenches. The benches shown in the book are sure to cause workbench envy. Now available in an updated 248 page version from the Lost Art Press (https://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/the-workbench-book) More recently, Chris Schwarz book, “The Anarchist’s Workbench”, also from Lost Art Press (https://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/the-anarchists-workbench) addresses many key issues related to workbench design. From the LAP website, this book “… helps answer the questions that dog every woodworker: What sort of bench should I build? What wood should I use? What dimensions should it be? And what vises should I attach to it? These questions are answered with the perspective of 2,000 years of workbench history.” I highly recommend both books if you are new to woodworking and wish to learn more about workbenches and what is the best option for the woodworking you plan to do.
For the visual learner, I recommend the YouTube link below as an excellent source of information before building or buying a workbench. In this video, Joshua Farnsworth discusses 5 features you need to know and how they impact the usefulness of a workbench for your woodworking.
Work Benches-Wood and Shop