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Learn How. Discover Why. Build Better. - Christopher Schwarz


"Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use"


Chapter 1 PDF

I'm pleased to inform that Christopher Schwarz's first book, "Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use," is shipping now.

Chapter 1 downloadable PDF file is available here - download

To order the Deluxe Edition with CD visit Lost Art Press - Christopher Schwarz's website.

About the Deluxe Edition with CD

The Deluxe Edition with CD is available only through a handful of independent woodworking specialty stores and presents additional electronic information that could not be included in the book, including:

  • Complete text and drawings to the book in PDF format that you load on your computer so you can print out construction drawings of the plans to take to the workshop and search the entire book by keyword.

  • Complete plans, step photos and text to build a third historic workbench not presented in the book, the 19th-century Holtzapffel Workbench. This simple and almost-forgotten bench was designed specifically for furniture-makers.

  • Interactive 3-D models that allow you to examine, disassemble and manipulate the three workbenches shown in the book and on the CD. These models are like having the bench in front of you so you can examine its parts from all angles, look inside at the joinery and even disassemble the entire project on your computer screen.

  • Plus slideshows of the construction of two of the workbenches on the deluxe CD

Book Summary

This is the only workbench book that shows the reader how to design a good workbench, how to build it and Ė most importantly Ė how to use it in their shop for all sorts of tasks. Encompassing years of historical research and real-world trials, this book boils down centuries of the history and engineering of workbenches into simple ideas that all woodworkers can use.

With this book, your very first workbench will do everything you need it to do for the rest of your career in the craft. Hereís what youíll find inside:

  1. This book shows you how to build inexpensive, simple and very useful benches that haven't been in widespread use for 100 years or more.

  2. Every woodworker needs a workbench, and other books skimp on showing you how to design a good bench yourself, or how to use it once it's built.

  3. The construction information is presented so even beginning woodworkers can build these world-class benches. The technical drawings are extensive. The step-by-step instruction is unusually detailed.

Every board has edges, faces and end grain. So every workbench should be able to easily work the edges, faces and ends of boards. But most benches built during the last 100 years will fail you on at least one of these tasks.

This book dives deep into the historical records of the 18th and 19th centuries and breathes new life into traditional designs that have lain dormant for decades and were utterly fantastic to use. These old-school benches are simpler than modern benches, easier to build and surprisingly perfect for both power and hand tools.

This book explains the fundamental rules of good workbench design that have been largely forgotten. It explains all of the complex vises and ways of holding work so you can understand what they do. And it shows you how to use this knowledge to design a workbench for the ages, using two venerable designs as basic skeletons. Unlike other books on the topic, this one isnít a tour of unusual or beautiful workbenches. Instead itís essential reading for anyone who likes to get their hands dirty in the shop.

The deluxe edition of this 140-page hardbound book is signed by the author and includes a CD that works with both PC and Macintosh computers. The deluxe edition CD includes the complete and searchable text of the book, plus 3D models of the benches, a bonus workbench plan and slideshows of the bench-construction process.

About Chris...

Christopher Schwarz is the editor of Popular Woodworking and Woodworking Magazine and is a long-time amateur furnituremaker and hand-tool enthusiast.

He began working with wood at 8 when his family members built their first home on their farm outside Hackett, Ark., using hand tools because there was no electricity. After studying journalism at Northwestern University and The Ohio State University, Chris became a newspaper reporter but studied furniture-making at night at the University of Kentucky and joined the staff of Popular Woodworking in 1996.

In addition to his duties at Popular Woodworking, Chris writes about hand tools for The Fine Tool Journal and has four DVDs on traditional hand tool use produced and sold by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. He teaches handwork at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking and Kelly Mehlerís School of Woodworking.

He lives in Fort Mitchell, Ky., with his wife, Lucy; two daughters, Maddy and Katy; and at least three cats. This is his first book.  WK

From the reader...

I was given Chris Schwarz's workbench book for Christmas as I am on the very verge (indeed the edge, the precipice, that slippery slope) of building a real bench.  I have been using a bench I built about 20 years ago that has 2x6 legs and stretchers with bed bolts holding all together, then a plywood top with a face and a tail vice - both of them metal vises. 

I have been forced to be creative when it comes to holding things up or down and have learned to live with it.  FWW had an article in their special "shop" issue about 5 years ago about a bench with a double screw end vice, and this recently struck me as a good idea for chair seats.  When I re-visited this article I also read several other workbench books, including the standard ones, and thought I had a handle on the topic.

But nooooo...  Chris's book is truly the definitive discussion of the topic.  Nowhere else have I seen such a meaningful analysis of the what and why of each feature of a bench.  It has reinforced many of the "decisions" I had thought I had made already, but it changed a couple of others.

Like the use of the sliding "deadman" (that thing that slides the length of the bench across the front and has a lot of holes for dogs in it) that allows a movable support for planing the edges of long or wide (or both) boards.  Or that you want the front legs to be flush with the edge of the top so that they can be clamped against. Or that you want no aprons so you can clamp onto all four sides of the top.  Or that the standard tail vice is a lot of work for what you get.  Or that a stack of drawers under the top prevents you from using a proper holdfast that would stick down through the bench.  Or that 350 pounds is not too heavy.  Or that the lovely "German" benches that are offered in the catalogues might look good in the living room, but have some serious shortcomings for handwork.

Part of his discussion is a bench that works for power tools.  A power tool bench may not work for hand tools, but a good hand tool bench is great for power tools too.  It turns out his favorite is his version of the Ruobo bench (he says it is the one possession he would take if he had to take just one).


L. & I. J. White

Winsted Tools

D. R. Barton


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