A Well-oiled Roman


Today I finished up the first Roman workbench, which is about 18” high x 15” wide and 7’ long. After drilling all the holes in the benchtop (more on those in a moment) I added two coats of boiled linseed oil and called it done.

The only thing left to do with this bench is complete the workholding, which will consist of two 1”-diameter oak pegs plus three or four tapered stakes that I can drive into the holes in the benchtop. This bench will have no metal hardware.

I’ve been studying a lot of vintage workbenches that don’t have vises and have a long list of ideas and theories to test with my stakes and pegs.

Probably the most startling fact about this workbench (so far) is that it took only seven or eight hours to build.

Next week I’m starting construction of a far more complex Roman bench with vises, metal bits and other oddness.

Both benches will be at Woodworking in America next month. So if you are in town – be sure to stop by and give them a try.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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18 Responses to A Well-oiled Roman

  1. Now we need a video showing this bench in action – or at least a series of photos. For me it is an interesting experiment to see the results…

  2. Rachael Boyd says:

    I understand that a bench should be be a certain height for the person working on it and the work that they do on that bench. I must have missed something here with this bench. is it for working large (tall) pieces. or an assembly table. can you guide me to more info?

  3. Mark Fisher says:

    Looks like a beautiful piece of furniture than a workbench……I mean that in a good way…(:

  4. Bill Smith says:

    I like it and I may build one, but I can’t get over the eight legs, sorry. Looks like two (very nice) milking stools that expanded into one another. 🙂

    I like the height and I’m anxious to see how the work holding methods work out.

  5. wurzelgummage says:


  6. Paul Sidener says:

    That is beautiful. That would great to use for carving out a bowl with an adze.

  7. You know, this make a perfect bench for someone who has no dedicated workshop….like apartment dwellers. It could double as a hall bench, or something of that ilk.

  8. Why eight legs? I can think of several reasons six would be better but can’t come up with a single advantage for eight.

  9. johnfcraig says:

    Chris, was surprised you did not use the organic linseed oil from your partners in Canada.

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