The Moravian workbench made popular by Will Myers is a gorgeous piece of work – probably the prettiest workbench in our shop. It’s a full-featured bench in a compact design that can be knocked to pieces in minutes.
I first encountered this form of bench in 2011 during a tour of the storehouses at Old Salem and wrote a few blog entries about them. Will Myers visited a few months later and was equally smitten. He started making them and teaching others how to do so at Roy Underhill’s school and through a nice video you can purchase.
I hadn’t worked on one much until Will loaned us one last year. The top is oak (likely white oak) and the base is yellow pine. It features a Benchcrafted Classic face vise and Crisscross mechanism. And a wagon vise mechanism that Will makes and sells.
We’re happy to have the bench here – visitors always want to compare the different forms of workbenches before they commit to building one. And we encourage them to try them all and ignore advice from us and others. You know what you like.
— Christopher Schwarz
15 thoughts on “Workbench Tour No. 8: Moravian Workbench”
I love this style of bench and would love to build one at Roys school; I just don’t have the wind to keep up in the class (copd).
I can dream though 🙂
I made this bench using construction 2×4 SPF, top and bottom (the only hardwood is salvaged Meranti I used for the vise chops. I built mine 22 inches wide by 6 feet long, without a tool tray, with a metal vise. Material was $60, the Vise was far more.
I built it thinking i would replace it with something more massive in a year or two, but after using it for three years, I don’t see a need. The structure is great – no movement when planing (I give the wedges a pop every 6 months). The 2×4 laminated top has taken a beating, and I’m considering upgrading it with laminated 3 – 4 inch plywood strips (like Paul Sellers did last year).
My beer money is hereby tapped out.
I don’t need another bench but what is the vice gadget clamped on the left end of the bench? It looks useful.
It is a Bechcrafted HiVise. We have three and find them great for chairmaking and detail work.
Are both leg and wagon vices from Benchcrafted?
The wagon vise is made by Will. Links are in the text.
What’s the angle on those wedges? I think I’ve seen much bigger wedges with a more gentle taper – they might be slower to loosen? (Slower, not never)
I made a bench of this design with Will Myers at the Woodwright’s School last August. A great teacher in a great location. I have been using the bench since then and it is extremely sturdy. Living in humid Houston, I have never had to tighten up the wedges since bringing it home. I have flattened the top one time, and hand planing the mellow air dried oak top was a dream. Goals for future modification include installing some type of tail vise, drilling bench dog/holdfast holes, installing a planing stop, and replacing the parallel guide with a crisscross. I never thought I would like a tool tray, but I actually do: it’s easy to remove and replace for cleaning.
Bought Will’s video and just built this in ash last month. I absolutely love it. It’s a great compact form for my limited basement space, and even though I never plan to move it’s nice knowing that I could get it out of there again. No issues with loose wedges yet. Amazing how solid the bench is with the simple way it knocks together. I made my top 18” wide with a narrower tool tray. I’m trying it out with the tray… not sure yet. But if I don’t like it I can replace with another section of laminated ash and have a split top. I lusted after the benchcraft hardware but didn’t have the coin, so went with a simple screw for the leg vise with a wood parallel guide. I would like a wagon vise but using the bolt on vise from my old “bench” for now.
I built a version of the Moravian workbench as my first real workbench. I don’t have any experience with other workbenches so I can’t compare it to anything, but it’s been a blast to work on so far. I modified it slightly keeping in mind Mr. Schwarz’s workbench principles. I didn’t try to invent anything new but instead blended two existing, proven designs. The base is all Moravian but the legs are beefed up to allow an angled leg vise. The rest of the modifications are mixing in some of the features of Benchcrafted’s split-top roubo plans – two laminated tops, gap stop, sliding deadman. I also added a removable shelf on the bottom (shiplapped boards with cleats held by clinched nails so it’s one component) and a spiked planing stop (Benchcrafted). My tops are sitting on dominos instead of dowels and slightly tightened with machine screws (same hardware as the Knockdown Nicholson). This is helpful for me since I have it against a wall and occasionally need to angle the bench away from the wall for clearance. No wagon vise so far but I just reached out to Will to see if I can grab one of his wagon vises from his next batch. Made mostly with home center laminated SYP. Special thank you to Chris and Will for sharing all their knowledge or else I’d still be working on a plywood table on casters.
I really appreciate all the workbench tours, especially now that many of us have extra time on our hands. On Vimeo, it looks like the Sjobergs bench is the last tour. I was wondering if you have a knockdown workbench tour planned, or if not, maybe just a blog post. I’d be very interested to hear whether or not you would change or modify your original design, and/or what are your thoughts about using it. I built it as my first bench. I didn’t add a vice. Three years later, there isn’t much I would change. It’s exactly what I needed. And vice-less woodworking has been a great way to improve my planing skills.
I don’t have enough miles on the knockdown bench to have an opinion worth sharing. Glad you like it!
Do you know why is it called “Moravian”?
The original bench that Will Meyers photographed and measured is at Old Salem a historic Moravian village founded in north-west North Carolina in 1766.
Here is the link to Will’s blog with the story, plans, and instructions for the workbench.
Will seems to be a humble guy who does not claim any ownership of the design, yet deserves great credit for recognizing and reviving something special. The original designer/builder is lost to history but was part of the Moravian community.
Comments are closed.