The Schwarz's New Workbench Book

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Review by Tadd posted 11-10-2010 08:01 AM 7215 views 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
The Schwarz's New Workbench Book No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Chris Schwarz’s new book provides plans and details for eight different workbenches. These benches range from a Roubo bench, in which Chris built almost entirely by hand, to a workbench assembled in 24 hours. Chris actually puts a couple paragraphs in the book explaining whether you actually need this book, which I think says something.

I think all of these workbenches were described in articles in Popular Woodworking. So, you can probably find the plans for the workbenches elsewhere, although there is something to having the several designs consolidated in one source. Also, the benches are made by different people and not by Chris alone, which creates some interesting contrast in opinion about workbench design.

I think the book is very helpful—if you are designing your own workbench. You can look at numerous design choices and gleen important information from what was done and about what choices were made by the builders. Further, each builder provides, at the end of their respective chapters, a list of pros and cons about their workbenches. This information is really helpful.

The end of the book provides information about how to upgrade your existing workbench. I did not find this section as helpful as I have yet to build my workbench. However, I think it could help those of us who want to improve our benches without scrapping them and building anew.

He also puts in a section on vises and workholding. If you have done your research on what vises are available on the market or read Chris’s various blogs, this section will seem fairly redundant.

The next section was the one I was most intrigued by. Chris writes a chapter on the “best bench never built.” Essentially, Chris describes his perfect bench, if there were no limits on what he could build. From someone who has built and used so many benches, this section was really telling about what a bench needs and how to make it.

Finally, as a throw in, Chris also includes a section on how to build a sawbench.

Bottomline: I really liked this book. If you are designing your own bench, this book would be extremely helpful. However, if you have your heart set on a Roubo bench (which seems to be all the rage), I think Chris’s first book is actually more helpful.

-- Tadd, Denver,

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8 comments so far

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Derek Lyons

584 posts in 4342 days

#1 posted 11-10-2010 06:15 PM

Good review!

Even though the plans are, as you say, all available elsewhere – the pro’s/con’s and analysis section for each bench are by themselves worth the price of admission. You really should think of this as a companion volume to his first book, neither really stands alone. The first is all about theory and planning, this book put those theories into practice by showing how those theories apply to actual benches.

There are those who might say he should have put it all in one book, but there’s no way he could have gone into the depth he does in one book.

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

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Chris Pond

63 posts in 3821 days

#2 posted 11-10-2010 06:32 PM

I have look at this book & Chris’s view of Roubo bench work. I thank you for the review as now I am going to get this book. Yes, I need to build a “proper” bench which I hope to work with someone like Chris at his shop.

-- Chris, Fernie, BC

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4920 posts in 3822 days

#3 posted 11-11-2010 12:41 PM

I read the previous book and I built a workbench and a saw bench.
I incorporated many other ideas in my workbench.
Here are some pictures of the bench under construction:

pictures of ti:

-- Bert

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3653 posts in 3654 days

#4 posted 11-11-2010 08:44 PM

Thanks for review. I think I will get the book. I built my first bench about a year ago following a plan from Woodsmith. The bench serves me well but I decided I wanted another bench in the shop so I am working on it now. I am also doing most of the work all by hand so I am more interested in reading about that in this book.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

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4816 posts in 3947 days

#5 posted 11-11-2010 08:46 PM


GREAT job. Beautiful bench :-)

-- -- Neil

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35 posts in 3585 days

#6 posted 11-12-2010 05:10 PM


I like the bench. Do you find the crochet helpful? I know Chris used one on his first Roubo but not the second. I am a little curious why.

-- Tadd, Denver,

View BikerDad's profile


347 posts in 4375 days

#7 posted 02-11-2011 09:36 AM


Chris didn’t put a crochet on his second Roubo, and in fact removed it from the first one, because he found that the leg vise made it redundant.

I have this book, and his first Workbench book (which I’ve reviewed here on LJ), and I consider this one to be excellent, because of the analysis of various designs, and also because of the “after action reports” on the 8 benches in the book. I have to agree with Derek that, while either book is excellent on their own, together they are superb.

One downside to the book is there is a lot of repetition in the “build ‘em” sections of the 8 benches. This is because of their origins as magazine articles, where how to cut the tenons or make the mortises or glue up the top is covered for each bench. Seriously, there’s not 8 different ways of gluing up a top!

-- I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park! Grace & Peace.

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55 posts in 3316 days

#8 posted 12-28-2011 01:19 AM

I didn’t realize there were two different books until now. I think I’ll start with the first and see what I think after the fact.

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