Workholding with the ‘Naked Woodworker’

The workbench that Mike Siemsen builds in the DVD “The Naked Woodworker” doesn’t have a single vise, but it can perform all the standard woodworking operations.

To prove this point, we asked Mike to make a short video that demonstrated how to use this Nicholson-style workbench for planing, sawing and chiseling tasks. Mike, always the overachiever, made the above 31-minute video that puts his bench through all of its paces.

Even if you are an old hand at hand tools, I think you’ll pick up a few tricks from the video. I know I did. Be sure to watch Mike using a ripsaw at 23:30. The man can rip. And the dovetail vise – similar to Caleb James’s version – is mighty clever.

The Naked Woodworker” is available on DVD and via instant download from our site. No matter how you purchase the video, you’ll also receive a spreadsheet that details all the materials and tools in the video, plus drawings for the workbench and a transcript of the entire DVD in Word format.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Be sure to watch to the end so you can see Mike’s cornball joke. And please do consider taking a class at the Mike Siemsen School of Woodworking. Mike is an excellent woodworker and fantastic teacher. I’ll be teaching a class there in 2016.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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25 Responses to Workholding with the ‘Naked Woodworker’

  1. Bill Breen says:

    YouTube won’t load ‘Error occurred’ yadda yadda

  2. mwbds says:

    “An error occurred during validation”

    Peter Saale


  3. Bill Breen says:

    Thanks to both of you……nice work.

  4. Fantastic. I have the Naked DVD and it’s good. This video should be included in that set. A lot of these techniques I know and use already, even though I have a face vise, but great to have all these cataloged. And a few I’d not ever considered before. Thanks, great stuff.

  5. jbakerrower says:

    I agree. I want to download this and save it with the rest of the set. It was the factor which made me finally decide to purchase it. Good job.

  6. gblogswild says:

    Hey, that dog + holdfast pseudo-Moxon idea is great! I had planned a wedged face vise for my next bench, but I’m beginning to think that the naked aprons with dog holes might be more fun and even quicker….

  7. John Switzer says:

    Wonderful addition to the video. Very practical and simple.

  8. toolnut says:


  9. snwoodwork says:

    That was an eye opening video and I’m really impressed with the versatility of the Nicholson bench. Had I known about this bench this time last year I would have built it instead of what I currently have. It’s a shame that Mike’s school is 20 hours away from me; it looks like a great place to take a class or two.

  10. Wes Beal says:

    Great video! I think I’m going to retro-fit my current bench with some Nicholson components.

    In addition to all the ways to hold work, I learned a bit more about how to plane properly. During the section where Mike was planing the edge of a board with it loose up against a stop on top of the bench he talked about how if the board is rising behind your plane you aren’t planing correctly.

    Made perfect sense to me, but I’d never thought about it. I bet if when I get home I try planing a board in the same manner it will try to rise up on me until I get the form right.

    I’d welcome any recommendations on books or articles where more such basics are covered. Watching shows like the Woodwright’s shop I’ve picked up on quite a bit (the episodes with Chris going over sawing techniques was great, as an example). That’s the kind of information that beginners like myself I think need a lot more of.

  11. Finally, a way to give up all my vises. Great presentation

  12. jimeckman says:

    Really does show of the Nicholson bench, though I noticed that the 5 foot bench was a bit light, he had blocks nailed to the floor so it wouldn’t move around. My bench is usually up against a wall so it’s less of a problem but might make using a doe’s foot problematic.

    This video certainly is encouraging to build a Nicholson to replace my cheesy $79 bench.

    • Mike Siemsen says:

      I agree that the 5 foot bench is a bit light. It is designed more for travel and demonstrations away from home. The larger benches are much more stable. It would be the same case for just about any smaller bench. I used the smaller bench to try and keep most of it in the frame. There is no need to make a knock down version unless you plan to travel with it.

      • Wes Beal says:

        The crochet on this bench was different than the one in the DVD, wasn’t it? Looked like you were able to slide this one in and out, versus in the DVD is was fixed in one position on the front.

      • jimeckman says:

        I’m stuck with a smaller bench size since I live in a 1 shop(room) condo. An 8′ permanent bench could never be removed via door or window. Still I get things built!

        And the video was awesome…

      • Mike Siemsen says:

        Yes Wes, the crochet on this one slides out. I wanted it easily removable without hardware so it wouldn’t snag on things when moving it.

  13. Jeremy says:

    This looks like an extremely versatile starter or traveling bench, love the ending.

  14. Does a can of pale ale a viceless bench make?

  15. Really great video, Mike. I will be forwarding this to any friends new to woodworking. Between this and your DVD, I finally have a single source to recommend for beginners! Thanks. (p.s. Very clever solutions to many common scenarios!)

  16. Wonderful addition to the Naked Woodworker set! I laughed harder than I’d like to admit at Mike’s joke…

  17. Great video. Definitely buying The Naked Woodworker DVD.

  18. bobeaston says:

    What a great set of tips! Thanks.
    I’ve used a number of those methods on my 12 foot Nicholson (originally for boat building), but learned some new tips too. MUCH appreciated.

  19. Does anyone know where the square planing stops he has at the end of the bench come from? Or, if they’re shop made, how about plans?

    • Mike Siemsen says:

      The square stops are made from readily available 1/4 x 1 flat bar stock. I drilled and countersunk a hole in the center for a large screw to screw it to a 3/4 dowel. Saw or grind or file the front to about 45 degrees or so and cut a few notches for teeth. Keep in mind that this bench is portable and not for heavy daily use. the stops worked fine but the heavier one shown would be better, though haarder to make, it is made from angle iron and mounted to a 1 1/2 inch square post.

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