In this episode Christopher Schwarz, Editor of Popular Woodworking and Woodworking Magazine, presents, discusses, and points out pros and cons of several benches and their features:
- The European bench: He is not happy with this form, but also is not anti-European-form. His problem with this one: People take old principles and apply them to other benches. He likes to apply the kitchen door test (typical sizes we work on) and the kitchen carcase test (pushes him to narrower benches) to all benches, for suitability.
- Materials: For example, the Nicholson bench required only a small amount of material. He likes soft woods for his benches; SYP (Southern yellow pine) does not move much, is stiff ((no flexing), it dents (no detriment), and he can flatten a workbench in 45 minutes using a #8 jointer hand plane diagonally. Also, SYP does not sag; however, one of his benches has developed a low spot i.n the middle. He believes the critical area that requires total flatness on a bench top is the front 8 inches to 10 inches.
- Roman style bench: This is the one he finds in most pro shops. Pros: It is simple, and stout. Con: No planing stops, etc.
- The French undercarriage: Pros: Great clamping ability. Con: Requires a log of material, primarily due to its massive legs.
- The English bench: Pros: Requires very little wood. Con: Undercarriage clamping is tough.
- The Danish bench: Pro: Easy to knock down. Don: Can’t clamp easily on the front.
- The Shaker bench: Pros: Great looks, and storage for everything and everybody. Cons: Hard to clamp on.
- Tool trays: Cons: They are always full of “stuff”.
- The Hayward bench: The thin top flexes; but the front apron takes away some of the flex.
- Top thickness: At 3″ to 4″, the beam strength is enough to provide support on the legs. Holdfasts reach their holding limit around 4 inches.
- Bench height: For hand planing, it should hit the joint between the pinkie and the palm of the hand.
- Bench width: Finds that 22″ is great, but 18″ tends to be tippy.
- Bench finish: NO slick film. The formula he uses is 50/50 BLO (boiled linseed oil) / varnish, with solvent added to make it possible to wipe on the mixture. There is no need to finish the underside, unless the owner wants to finish it.
Next: The ending of the session on Forgotten Workbenches and Workholding.
Related posts: Watch more videos from Woodworking in America on this blog.