This past Tuesday, Chris Schwarz’s Workbench book showed up on my doorstep. Needless to say, Tom is a happy camper. It was read completely before bed that night. Yeah, I’m pathetic.
Going into the book, I had a deep affection for the English Workbench that Chris built, and was eager to build my own version. After reading the book though, I still want to. However, until/unless my tiny shop situation changes, I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Instead, I’m leaning toward the French workbench with a leg vise and a standard cabinet maker’s vise on the end in the tail vise position. Why? Well, mostly it’s a matter of weight. The English bench can have plenty of mass, but I’m just not sure if it’ll have enough with the dimensions it would have to be for my small shop. At 2 feet wide and 5 feet long, there’s just not a great likelihood of sufficient mass for hand planing.
However, I have decided to adapt a bit here. One of Chris’ previous workbenches for Poplular Woodworking was the 24 Hour Workbench. The dimensions were 27”x61”. Now, this is completely doable for my shop space. Since the 24 Hour bench is basically a French workbench, I even have a basic idea of what it will look like. However, that’s where the similarities end. The French workbench from Chris’ book is a more refined design, one that will have fewer inherent problems.
One significant downside of the French bench is cost. It will take a LOT more lumber to build it, and I’m not that crazy about trying to assemble that beast! Still, the difficulty at the onset should be worth it for a strong, stable surface.
Of course, nothing is set in stone. Who knows. I might end up with a shaker bench instead ;)
-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!