The Workbench Design Book

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Review by mafe posted 08-20-2011 02:49 PM 4759 views 1 time favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
The Workbench Design Book The Workbench Design Book The Workbench Design Book Click the pictures to enlarge them

The Workbench Design Book
By: Christopher Schwartz

ISBN-10: 1558708405
ISBN-13: 978-1558708402

This book is really a landmark in workbench books for me.

The workbench design book is a book that takes you on a tour in workbenches; we get a little historical insight, some geographical insight and the chance to see what workbenches some of the top guides of the trade are using.

My personal favorite are with no doubt the 21st-century Workbench, this bench is so rock solid and well thought out, so rich on details of use and clamping options that it is not possible not to love.

Roubo’s bench are sexy and one day I might build one for that reason, but also it is a comic in the short form here, it seems more solid in the old really long versions that used to stand in the French workshops.
(I have seen quite a few in real life in France and after 100 years of use they are beautiful, and they are often sold and used as a bar or entrance furniture today in France.

Christopher Schwartz manage in this book to more or less answer all the questions, and not only this, he manage to build the different types of benches and this in a precise and well described series of photos and drawings. In other words you will be able to build the benches after reading this book and use the book as a helpful friend on your build.

After reading the book you will be able to take a decision of what bench you really want, you will spend your money on the right hardware and you might end up with a bench for life.

So if you are interested in workbenches, want to dream or are up to building one I have only one comment:
Buy the book!

(Yes I know I not always am this positive on Schwartz in my blogs lol).

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View mafe's profile


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17 comments so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

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#1 posted 08-20-2011 03:16 PM

Thank you MaFe. I have been wondering about this book as I find myself in the position of wanting to build a bench (have been saving up for the wood for a while now). I appreciate the completeness of the review and the final recommendation. I believe I will act on your advice!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View llwynog's profile


288 posts in 3702 days

#2 posted 08-20-2011 03:26 PM

I bought this book and found it extremely informative.

I am currently building a workbench and the design I used is based 90% on the information I found in this book (the remaining 10% are the available lumber which imposes some choices)

Also, I hesitated a lot before buying this book, as this is C. Schwarz’s second book on workbenches. I was afraid that not reading the 1st book before this one would mean that the basis would not be covered.
In the end, I don’t know what is written in the 1st book but I found this 2nd book completely self-sufficient and I got all the information I needed.

As usual, thanks for a great review.

-- Fabrice - "On est bien bête mais on sent bien quand on se fait mal" - my grandfather

View Bertha's profile


13624 posts in 3816 days

#3 posted 08-20-2011 04:12 PM

This is a fantastic book. It’s a must-have for a bench freak like myself. It’s Chris’s crowning achievement, in my opinion.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4796 days

#4 posted 08-20-2011 04:16 PM

Thank you Mad, Chris Schwarz’s comes up with some great workbench design.

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 4049 days

#5 posted 08-20-2011 05:07 PM

I did not care for this book as much as some of the others I have read, seemed somewhat repetative.

Much preferred the Landis book; more of what I was looking for, including all those rich color photographs… :)

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3778 days

#6 posted 08-20-2011 05:26 PM

The fact that you can set aside your personal feeling to give a good review is a sign of great character to me. I feel honored to get to know people like yourself.

I feel that the 10 rules for building benches really saved my backside on my bench build so credit where credit is due.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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Jim Jakosh

26304 posts in 4229 days

#7 posted 08-20-2011 06:20 PM

Hey Mads, Thanks for the tip on the book. I keep this in the back of my memory for recall when I get to the point of designing a better bench…........Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View llwynog's profile


288 posts in 3702 days

#8 posted 08-20-2011 06:30 PM

Oh Mafe, and I had no idea of your previous records with C. Schwarz as this happened before I joined L.J.

These older blog articles were an interesting read and put things in perspective.

As far as I am concerned C. Schwarz has always been very nice and helpful in the few emails he exchanged with me. I guess it is all a matter of mood and subject discussed.
I know too many knowledgeable and inspiring people that also happen to have a foul character and a less than diplomatic way of talking to others, to rule out someone based on a personality clash.

The fact that you gave a great review to this book prove that you also can set these kind of considerations aside and demonstrate your honesty and greatness of character.

All in all, a slightly off-topic comment but I just wanted to say that you earned another couple of respect points in my book (though I doubt you really needed any more, you were already having top grades ;) )


-- Fabrice - "On est bien bête mais on sent bien quand on se fait mal" - my grandfather

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10880 posts in 4238 days

#9 posted 08-20-2011 08:58 PM

Thank´s for the rewiew Mads :-)

take care

View jcwalleye's profile


306 posts in 4196 days

#10 posted 08-21-2011 04:19 AM

MaFe, I wholeheartedly agree with the 5 star rating. While the two Schwart’z bench building books are somewhat repetative, there is enough original information in either to make both valuable. The first is exhaustive in describing the tasks that a bench is expected to perform and how different features, benches, and accessories accomplish those tasks. The second is an as detailed description of bench designs and design concepts.

Beyond just describing how to build a bench, Christopher stived to explain why you would want it build it a certain way. 4 months after completing a Roubo style bench, heavily influenced by Schwartzes writings, I am very happy with the extent the bench has improved my skills. I’ve started to master hand planes which prior to having this bench couldn’t. If you are contemplating building a bench, buy either or both of these books and save yourself building a second bench.

-- Trees, a wonderful gift --Joe--

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 3598 days

#11 posted 08-21-2011 05:47 AM

I don’t know if this is a review for the first book or the second one. If it is for the first one then I am afraid I have to disagree with the rating. In my case when I bought the book I thought it was going to be about how to design a bench, not a review of two types of bench, one english and one french, neither one which interest me.

IMO the Roubo bench is overkill and the English bench with those wide aprons is useless for the work I do. After I bought the first book I found out there was another one comming out a few months later which reviewed more types of benches, but at that time I felt cheated and was not going to spend another $30 on a second book when the first one should have had all the info to beguin with. As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4057 days

#12 posted 08-21-2011 07:39 AM

I bought “The workbench a complete guide to creating you perfect workbench” by Lon schleining a couple of months ago. I some good ideas for my bench when I build it.

I like it.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View TechRedneck's profile


770 posts in 3980 days

#13 posted 08-23-2011 04:40 AM


Thanks for the review. I should give this one a read as I plan my new bench. There have been a couple of posts here on the 21st century bench that sparked my interest. I am still wondering what type of wood to use that is tough enough yet affordable.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View Schwieb's profile


1917 posts in 4584 days

#14 posted 09-03-2011 01:39 PM


You know that I have been in the mode of building fixtures for my shop. Yesterday I got to thinking that I would really like to build a personal workbench. I have a factory made one from Sweden that I have had for nearly 30 years and it has been a great bench, but it is small. I am inclined to approach design problems like this by ignoring plan books so I won’t be biased by other designs and come up with something a little different that is my design. Then again the bench is as old of woodworking requirement as anything could be and this problem has been approached by countless woodworkers around the world and throughout history. I decided to look around a little on LJs and who shows up in my search but my friend Mads. Thanks for the review. I might just buy this book.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View mafe's profile


13202 posts in 4212 days

#15 posted 09-03-2011 04:07 PM

Hi guys,
Yes this book really gives you a full range of options and dreawings to get inspired from or directly to build.
I’m dreaming of a bigger workshop one day, and then I will build me a wonderful bench.
For now I must settle with my worktable and a Festool MFT3 and I smile when I go there so it aint all bad…
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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