Workbenches book by Schwarz

I have a personal requirement to put at least one photo in my posts about ww. Since I’m without my camera and my iPhoto this week, I’m posting about something other than my own work. Sorry no pictures today.

I’ve been rereading parts of Christopher Schwarz’s book Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use lately. In my opinion this is the book to read if you’re thinking about making or purchasing a bench any time soon. There are lots of glowing reviews of the book out there. But even though Schwarz is a wonderful writer, what I think is the key to the success of this book has not been mentioned in any of the reviews I’ve read. And I’ve read a bunch of them.

The key, imo, is this. If you want to use hand tools, namely planes, on your work, you need to hold the work down to your bench so the surface being worked is facing up. That’s not the case if you’re using a router or a plate joiner. And there are three kinds of work-holding situations, each needing something different from your workbench. Think about planing each side of a kitchen cabinet door. There are three kinds of sides: the large flat face, the long edge, and the short edge. How would you hold that door firmly enough to plane each of those surfaces? Oh, and on the large face, you need to be able to plane in all directions. Not just along the grain. That’s one of the places my current bench really falls down.

Schwarz’s book discusses many ways to achieve all of those workholding needs. One of the reviewers I read said, “you’ll never look at a workbench the same again.” And that’s definitely true for me.


About johnjoiner

Computer nerd by day, Dad and woodworker by night. Woodworking blog at
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One Response to Workbenches book by Schwarz

  1. Nice job on the saw, John! That has been on my project list for sometime. I've never used one before either, so I don't know about the tensioning.

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