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
51 thoughts on “Another Workbench? Seriously? (Eyeroll) Wait, Two?”
I think it will fit on the kitchen counter between the toaster and Keurig machine.
These bench (tops) are awesome!
They are like joinery (bench-on-bench) benches on steroids.
Have you thought about the possibility of having a chop that bridged to of the widest screw holes to make a twin-screw. The chop could be stored in the void inside the benchtop during travel so as not to add bulk. Or is that superfluous?
You should design a bench-on-bed. It will be like breakfast in bed, only better.
With that mindset you better build one for your doghouse, too 🙂
With that mindset you better make one for your doghouse too.
Watch out for the splinters!
I could use one to use in my car. It will make the time go by faster on my long commute to work.
That might be less safe than texting while driving… but you could use it on your lunch break out in the parking lot!
I was just thinking I needed a new project, my queue was down to double digits…
Did you make the screws?
Yup. I turned the hubs on a lathe and made the threads on a Beall threadbox.
You should checkout this young guy at Lumberjocks. He build a really nice bench, including making his own nuts and screws with his own jigs. His attention to detail was great. He made some very nice videos of the key parts.
Here’s a link to his video on making the screw: http://lumberjocks.com/CartersWhittling/blog/25851
This style of bench is long overdue. When I first started woodworking a few years ago, I worked in my dining room of a townhouse. I looked at the limited options from Blum tool ( didn’t quite convince me ) and the Swedish bench from woodcraft ( too wobbly) and settled with the small Hoffman & hammer bench from highland. It is very sturdy, but walks the floor while Planing. It was only after I purchased that bench did I find the blue work bench book. Even then, I lacked the tools to build the SYP Roubo. This bench would have immediately caught my eye…… But I was a novice to all of this, and I was so confused as to what I needed and could go without, especially starting out in a house with no shop space that, beyond one with carpet and a chandelier. I see this bench being replicated by a factory at some point and sold in a tool catalog. Hopefully by LN , but cost would be a big factor. I wouldn’t need this type of bench now, but it certainly will fulfill a very unoccupied spot in this market. Can’t wait to read more.
What about some mortices for three removable legs (like the Triton superjaw thing), one stout one under where you’d pound, and two splayed for stability. Then you could have short legs for a bench-in-bed or some such and longer ones for when you want a standalone bench that’s sturdier than what you might be clamping to (or if someone else has commandeered the kitchen table)
That is looking so good.
I’m glad the Milkmans bench has found a new good home. I’ll tell my father to check out this blog.
Yay ! very happy to see this. I’ve long held that we need to invite and encourage people strong on interest, but shy on space. Woodworking’s future will be the healthier for it.
You’re ringing a bell but I can’t name that tune. Looks great.
Look great! I would love one!!
Great work Chris, you are a real inspiration, I wish I could meet with you, sit at a table and have a good chat around a few beers!! Maybe one day!
This is a beautiful version of this handy bench. Knew you’d do a damn good job with it! I’ve made a rough version from structural hem fir to see how useful it would be, and although the vise screws are steel in mine, I’m impressed. Looking forward to your article!
I like those vise screws. Who makes them.
I did! I wrote an entry about making the screws on my Popular Woodworking blog. The hubs I turned on a lathe as well.
Very nice. I’ll look for that blog post.
Sort of Moxon vise and a tenon vise in one package. Is this not a furnituremaker jig to be used with one of these (French) horizontal saws?
Great after I dedicate the whole bedroom in my one bedroom apartment to being a shop. My 44 inch long workbench is overkill. I just got comfortable telling people I live in a studio apartment with an attached shop. One thing I have learned is that a strategically placed scrap of 2×10 left on the floor quickly remedies a skittering bench.
Is this different from the “modern milkman’s workbench” that you wrote about earlier?
Only in the smallest details.
Yeah like the absence of a trough dowel in the tennons, adding another division block in the twin till, not extending tail vice dividing block to the master slab… sorry got a bit nerdy there… the only one that I have a question on is the absence of a through dowel.
Neither of those benchtops is glued up. You aren’t seeing all the parts there or even in the right configuration. When the benches are don you will see the real differences – they are subtle. I don’t like messing with an original design too much until I have several generations under my belt.
Awwww, a Twee Bench!
I can’t wait to see more–this is great. I started woodworking on a 6th floor apartment balcony with a workmate, so I understand the need.
I too started with a Workmate (though not on the 6th floor). It’s OK for sawing, but most frustrating and uncomfortable for planing, and not too solid for chopping work such as mortices – even small ones.
The portable bench-top seems a well worthwhile redevelopment, but I can’t help thinking it’ll need something fairly solid to support it during use. A flimsy IKEA table may not cut the mustard…
There’s one like this in an old Time-Life Books volume I have on workbenches. I’m away from my library, so I can’t comment further.
Would you be accepting any more customers?
I’m afraid that with my travel and publishing schedule, the wait would be stupidly long. I squeezed this one in because I was building one for an article. I hope that someone will be able to offer a kit of the parts that people who are getting started or have limited tools can use to get a head start.
Its a workbench for hobbits.
Hooray, us poor apartment dwellers have been recognised at last. I do nearly all my work here in Sweden with a B&D lookalike collapsable workmate on my front door step. Now I can have a proper bench top to go on that bench. Keep up the good work Chris!!
And if in our small sized locations, we don’t have a lathe or room for one, can we order turned blanks (we’ve got to have the fun and experience of making the screws) from LAP?
I don’t see us getting into the screw-making business. At WIA I talked to Lake Erie people about producing a kit for this bench. It would be the exterior frame with the tapped holes and the three threaded screws. They seemed interested (or at least polite) but I need to follow up with them.
Good to hear about the possibility of Lake Erie considering making a kit. Hopefully something will come of it…thanks.
Reblogged this on Stu's Shed.
I remember the auction here in Australia that had the original one you posted about…I missed out on the bench. I’ve been looking forward to you doing this (wasn’t sure if it was still on your radar). Can’t wait to see some pictures of it finished, and then the article.
So nice to see a sown seed grow and set fruit. Well done.
I would love to have this bench. I guess I will have to renew my subscription to PopWood.
Nice endorsement for the utility of a bench like this.
Now Chris needs to also do an article on how to convince the spousal unit that it would be acceptable to take this bench along on family vacations….
How did you choose to secure the hubs ot the threads? PVA? Hide glue? Epoxy? Are they pinned? Just curious what you felt was strong and long lived enough.
Pre-chewed gum. Seriously, ever try to get that stuff off something once it’s hard? I’d rather try and steal the presidential teleprompter.
I wonder if my wife would let me bring this bench in bed
It looks like the line of pressure, i.e. the thread for the wagon vise and the dog hols don’t line up exactly. I also noticed this on the original. It will be interesting to see, if it wil cause the moving part of the wagon vise to jam or tilt in the tracks.
So maybe the next generation will have the threaded hole slightly offset so it will be in line with the dog holes.
If you have time, would you please post a short video of the bench being put through it’s paces? I’m having trouble visualizing that thing staying steady unless it is clamped to a table jammed in the corner or to another solid workbench and used like a moxon vise on steroids.
PS As long as I’m making requests, can we please see the fully loaded Dutch chest soon?
Oh yeah forgot to mention: Those screws are pretty darn cool.
This would be perfect as a portable bench to take to job sites. I’ve already added this to my list of projects this year
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