Several years ago during a breakfast with some woodworkers, I floated the idea of a workbench for the woodworker without a shop.
In essence, it was going to be like the Hammacher Schlemmer “Gnome Brand” of workbench – a nice piece of furniture that would unfold into a workbench and tool chest. But unlike the Hammacher Schlemmer bench, my design would be a bench that could be used for serious woodwork.
I was already making preliminary drawings. It was going to be a lot of fun to build.
In the end, I didn’t build that bench. Why? One of the woodworkers said the following thing while forking his scrambled eggs:
“Wow. That sounds like a lot to build for an apartment-dweller.”
Bingo. So I changed gears. This bench is that gear. Based on a historical example I’ve spotted in Europe and Australia, this bench will clamp to a sturdy table or countertop and give the woodworker a lot of functionality for something that is only about 32” long.
It will dovetail an 18”-wide case. It will hold almost any piece for tenoning. It will hold many reasonably sized pieces between dogs. It has square bench dogs, a wagon vise and a twin-screw vise that is like no other (details to come).
I made some small changes to the original design – simplifying the mechanism you use to clamp it to a stout surface, strengthening a couple points of the original that had become stressed during the last 50 years. And changing the material to maple – beech is hard to find at lumberyards in Kentucky.
I began the project yesterday and should be almost finished building a pair of these benches by tomorrow. One is for me – for traveling – and the other is for a customer.
More details in the coming days. And if you can wait a few months I’ll have an article on this bench in Popular Woodworking Magazine.
— Christopher Schwarz