Roman Workbenches on ‘The Woodwright’s Shop’


You can now watch the episode of Roy Underhill’s “The Woodwright’s Shop” where I discuss the two Roman workbenches I built this summer. Here’s the link to the episode. Yes, I know the text says I’m blacksmith Peter Ross. I’m sure they’ll fix it at some point.

If you want to go deeper into the topic of Roman workbenches, be sure to check out issue two of Mortise & Tenon magazine, which features an article on the low bench and how to use it for cabinetmaking and joinery operations (even dovetails). The issue ships in early January.

And if you are as crazy as I am, stay tuned for the letterpress book we’re producing on these benches here at Lost Art Press and in conjunction with Steamwhistle Press. The first draft of the book is almost fully written. Now I just have to decide if I need to rewrite it with a more sober tone. Right now it reads more like Hunter S. Thompson on workbenches (without the mescaline).

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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23 Responses to Roman Workbenches on ‘The Woodwright’s Shop’

  1. Scott Taylor says:

    Gonzo journalism on Roman woodworking… Fear and Loathing in the Shop.. Can’t wait…


  2. wilburpan says:

    Add the mescaline.


  3. hgordon4 says:

    I DVR the current episodes and watched it Sunday evening. Meat clamp. Outstanding! Just be careful on the pull back when planing long grain. Ouch.
    It was a very interesting show. I look forward to the book.


  4. Tony Wilson says:

    I watched this episode yesterday (Roku PBS app – and yeah, it has the wrong description). It was really interesting; I like the way you covered the history, but also the real use in a modern shop. That’s why I love Roy’s show, it reaches back to the past, but also shows how these old techniques relate to my own woodworking. Roy’s shows with special guests are always great; he knows how to let the guest show their expertise, but he still guides the show along.


  5. laterthanuthink says:

    I really enjoy episodes where you and Roy are together. Especially the one where you hide in the tool chest. “We can play with his tools without all the preaching and dogma!”


  6. Paul Straka says:

    Watched the episode. It was great! Your historical research is inspiring. I also enjoyed the humor in regard to all the inevitable crotch shots. Sometimes woodworking brings out the 10 year old in all of us.


  7. fitz says:

    Thompson seems right: “If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.”


  8. jayedcoins says:

    Awesome, been checking the PBS app every few days to see what’s new. Will watch this sometime this week.


  9. I thought you didn’t do SEO.

    Hunter S. Thompson
    Roy Underhill
    M&T Magazine

    All in one post?!?!?

    It’s like you’re in my mind.


  10. bsrlee says:

    Its not the only video with the wrong title, there is a new-ish one where Roy does a bread board chest lid that they have labelled ‘Staked Furniture’, guess there will be a show on staked furniture to watch.


  11. Great show on a couple of wonderful benches – the tail vise is nothing but awesome. Wooden screw with a bite!


  12. Thank goodness for HD, otherwise I would have missed the unmistakable strand of Thor’s Schwarzhair during the tail vise close up 😂 Great episode!


  13. Kansas John says:

    I know this is off topic but I need to drill some 1 1/4″ holes for some legs in a table and the bit I was using doesn’t have any ‘lips’ to score the cut so it tears out. Can anyone recommend a good bit for this?


    • Forstnerbit. If the angle is off due to splay, then cut a block perpendicular to the combined splay, clamp it on and start drilling. You need to pay attention to the orientation of the splay – the block needs to be oriented the same way – as well as grain orientation of your starter block, as the bit is more prone to weir off course when cutting through end grain than face grain. It would probably be a good idea to have a block on the opposite side to prevent blow out as well as having meat to drill in all the way through when working in skewed angles. I do not have any experience with spoon bits. They might be easier to start a skewed hole with – I’ll leave that open for people with experience.


  14. wb8nbs says:

    Apparently PBS is fixing the mixed up labels, the last two posted videos (including Chris) have dissapeared this morning, and Peter Ross is corrected.


  15. Not only does it SAY you are Blacksmith Peter Ross, the link, at least for me, shows you AS Blacksmith Peter Ross. At least when I click on it. I wonder if now you need to re-link it?


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