Workbench Tour No. 2: The Power Tool Workbench

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About a year after I built The $175 Workbench, I built The Power Tool Workbench for the August 2002 issue of Popular Woodworking magazine. The issue featuring The $175 Workbench had done particularly well on the newsstands (the bench had been on the cover), and so my fellow editors were willing to let me stick my neck out again.

This bench’s structure is similar to The $175 Workbench, but it has a bank of drawers below (not a fan of that) and it is sized to fit behind a table saw. Also, it features a Veritas Twin-screw Vise on one end.

 

All of my benches have had a hard life, but this one especially. I gave it to my father. He had it in his garage in Charleston, S.C., where it weathered a couple hurricanes and storm surges. After the last storm surge, my dad found it floating in about 6’ of water.

It survived quite well. The only repair I had to make was to lubricate the drawer slides to get them unstuck from rust.

The benchtop is a little small for handwork, but I’m not going to ever let it go. After my father died in 2018, it was one of the few things I took with me from his house.

That doesn’t mean it’s a perfect bench – far from it. The video explains it.

Items shown or mentioned in the video.

— Christopher Schwarz

August_2002 cover

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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25 Responses to Workbench Tour No. 2: The Power Tool Workbench

  1. Christopher Fitch says:

    I made that one a few years after I made the $175 bench.
    It’s still my current bench. I won’t replace it unless it’s with another that’s about seven or eight feet long.

    https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uAG-94NZi6E/Xo0KAOH1KCI/AAAAAAAAEcY/lRF_Rdm4dX4qMGkUR6c5KzkIE4NQ5h3gACLcBGAsYHQ/s320/bench2_complete1.jpg

  2. Who the hell is that on the cover?

  3. Dave Polaschek says:

    It’s nice seeing the stories behind these after having seen all the benches in person last year. There’s at least a couple ideas I’ll be incorporating into the next bench I build here.

  4. Jonathan Thomas says:

    Another cool video. In addition to solid content, you’re video blogs and related shorts so often have great music. Who is that playing in the background of this video?

  5. Justin R says:

    I am enjoying these videos. Man those stretchers are low on your chair! Think they look cool. Were you nervous you had them too low when you went to level the legs, like so low you couldn’t get the front to back slope you wanted?

  6. Boy, I remember all these issues of the magazine and the benches. Hard to believe these were almost 20 years ago. Does that officially make me one of the old guys?

  7. Steve Vlahos says:

    Eliminating a row of drawers may solve the holdfast issue for this nice compact bench (a.k.a Noah’s ark).

  8. Pascal Teste says:

    Thank you for making this video series. Nice to hear the story of each bench from the maker himself.

  9. Steve P says:

    I am really liking this series. Funny thing about this power tool bench is that twin screw vise is great for dovetailing on, for me anyways.

    • That’s exactly why I incorporated it into the bench’s design. I was trying to stretch the capabilities of the twin-screw so it could do all the heavy lifting when it came to workholding – faces, edges and ends. I was asking too much of it, I now know.

  10. Mattias Hallin says:

    I, too, would like to join in the chorus of thanks for this series of videos on your workbenches – it is very interesting in itself, but even more so a great follow-up to your earlier writings on these benches. And for someone who is more or less on the cusp of a bench build, it is of course a gefundenes fressen of the most delish kind!

    Mattias

  11. FKN says:

    Pretty sure Revolutionary Octopus Whirligig is a Captain Beefheart bootleg.

  12. masweig says:

    What is the purpose of the bits of wood at the bottom of the front two legs? Fancy shim that can be easily put back in place of moving the bench?

  13. Steven says:

    have you considered modifying the side stretchers so they are narrower, allowing the cabinets to sit lower, to allow the holdfasts to go down further?

    • Steven,

      The workbench base would become much less stout if I did that. The wide stretchers are the primary source of rigidity in the base. The better solution would be to remove the drawer box (it’s merely screwed in place) or replace it with a smaller one.

  14. antinonymous says:

    These many benches of yours, regardless of their individual merits and foibles, have all made their own enormously valuable and lasting contribution to art and science of workbenches. Before I built my own, I purchased two of your books on the subject, and a few from others as well. Then I built my own with the benefit of the hard-won knowledge you all gave me. My own bench, of course, ended up unique and peculiar to me and my own needs, but now in my elder years, it is my single, all-time, favorite project,. That is thanks in large part to you and your own bench projects, and the knowledge gained from them and the historical research also, that you shared with us. This video series traverse over the history of those benches is a wonderful coda to all your previous work on this subject. You have my respect and gratitude, Dr. Schwarz! I hope you still have many additional new benches to come.

  15. bricsuc says:

    I have thought about this particular bench more than I care to admit. Not so much in a power-tool kind of way (don’t have many of those), but I’ve often found a need for some sort of secondary bench for doing smaller operations when something (often a glue-up) is monopolizing my primary bench. The questions include stuff like “would this just get covered in crap?” and “could I just do most glue-ups on this?”

    Finally, I decided to try to answer these stupid questions, because I just started making one. First with no vises, dog holes only as needed, and no drawers (though I might make a short box of them to fit underneath, being careful not to make them too tall).

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