I have finished writing the third and final book in the “anarchist” series, “The Anarchist’s Workbench,” which will be released in August 2020.
We planned to release it at Handworks as a surprise (indeed, I am exactly like a bearded Beyoncé). But because the pandemic has postponed Handworks, we’ll release the book as soon as we can get it to the printer.
What’s it about? Why badgers, of course. Specifically, badgers and ham sandwiches.
While I would love to write about badgers, “The Anarchist’s Workbench” is the culmination of 20 years of researching, writing about and building ancient workbenches. My ideas about benches have shifted during the last 20 years thanks to new research, getting to work on many different forms of benches and me becoming OK with saying to myself: You got that wrong.
The book is also the answer to the question I get asked the most: What is your favorite workbench? After 20 years of thought, I figured it out. During the last few months I built that bench. And I’ve documented its construction and all its details for the book.
The bench itself is a reflection of the way I live. It is built from sustainable and (mostly) inexpensive raw materials. It is designed to make furniture that defies planned obsolescence. And above all else, I built this workbench simply as a practical tool for making furniture. It is not an expression of my mastery of the craft or my success at amassing capital.
That’s where this bench comes from. And I suspect that most old workbenches came from the same place.
What’s left to do with the book? I’m turning over my third draft to some editors next week who (I hope) will think it’s worth publishing. I’m now drawing the illustrations for the book. And then I’ll lay out its pages.
In the meantime, I’ll be writing more about the research and hard decisions that led me here.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. I am sure many of you are wondering how this book will be different from my other workbench books. All I can say is that this one is written by the 51-year-old me, who has a lot of miles on the odometer. The 28-year-old me would have been happy to have this book.
Though the world probably doesn’t need another workbench book, I can’t control the ideas that grip my mind. If the book doesn’t sell, we’ll stack it up with all the unsold posters at the warehouse.
76 thoughts on “This Summer: ‘The Anarchist’s Workbench’”
Aggh, I just built my Split-top Roubo and that’s probably a lifetime bench. Only Bean has enough lives to build and appreciate all the variations
So now you have that much time to use your new bench than you would if you’d waited for the book! Yay!
Do those unsold posters include the one of chubby, cherubic, charpentières? Cause, I’m in.
Well, hot damn, I’m in. Fortunately it’s not whether or not we need another workbench book, it’s whether or not we need another Schwarz book, and yes we do. Hopefully there will be some more anarchism philosophy and here’s to hoping that what Schwarz decided is his favorite workbench is not that crazy Roman lower back torture device with all those caterpillar legs. I’m thinking that bench falls in the interregnum period for an artist like when Neil Young did the three disk set entitled Arc-Weld, which was comprised entirely of guitar noises and feedback. (I actually loved the Roman workbench book.) Can’t wait for this one.
Well now I’m conflicted. I’m sitting here in my chair, nearly finished, with your now old book ;). I was getting ready to buy lumber in the next few days. I’m buying the book regardless, but now do I wait to build? Do I build one as practice or to give to a friend? Really looking forward to this!
Personally? I’d wait. Probably worth it.
This post has me feeling like I just discovered your work for the first time after having known you for a lifetime. Pardon me as I fall in love all over again.
I’m looking forward to the anarchist’s garden, the anarchist’s brewery, and the anarchist’s bakery. Don’t disappoint 🙂
Shut up and take my money! Actually, tell us more! Can we get a sneak preview of a chapter or two?
I am with Hobs ! Can we pre-order and get a few Chapters early ? And since I just finished building my Knockdown Nicholson .. well .. I can always make room for another Bench ..
As someone currently at the precipice of a workbench build (and current owner of your past book) I look forward to this timely next instalment and, by the sounds of it, possibly burning the last book (no problem with a change in views from my perspective- we are all entitled to grow and evolve). I hope it involves using the Benchcrafted gear and Crucible holdfasts I have already amassed.
It’ll sell. I’ll buy a copy and am looking forward to that time. I’m just setting out on the workbench road and will gladly take advice. My only experience is with Scandinavian style benches, so that’s what I like, but the world is a big place and there’s always room for another way to work.
Oh, I have no doubt it will sell, if for no other reason than the history, research and evolution of thought – and because it is a LAP book!
The last thing I need is another book on benches. However, I will be ordering this one for sure! If i had time and money and space I would build several benches including a roman bench. Love all the history.Can’t wait.
That is a fantastic peice of news, Chris, and one that immediately makes me ask, “what are ya – a mindreader or summat?”
As I’ve mentioned before in comments on this blog, I’m more or less on the verge of a workbench build, and while planning for this have been reading and re-reading your two previous books on the subject. And many times when re-reading a part where you are discussing options, choices or different solutions to a problem, I’ve found myself thinking, “yes – but I wonder what he would say about X these days, with all the added experience that he must have under his belt by now; wouldn’t it be great if he were to do new book on benches?!” And then “oh well – he’s obviously a very busy man, so I guess that won’t happen”.
And then I wake up of a Saturday morning, turn on the computer, and find out that not only will you write such a book, but you have already written it, and that it thus is more or less imminent (less final editing and production)!
What’s the expression again? Oh yeah. Yippie-kay-ay!
Many thanks in advance for this book – I will be keeping a very beady eye out for the usual pre-order announcement!
I knew it. I finally get to see a Rocco tail vise. Let us know when preordering opens.
Autocorrect. Rococo, of course.
I like ‘Rocco’ better. Sounds like a trademark to me.
‘I threw that thing in my vise, and Rocco, Socko, bang, bang, done.’
If you could devise a work bench that also served a stick chair, I reckon you’d die a happy man.
Wait….what unsold posters at the warehouse?
The book will sell just fine -” bearded Beyonce “- you will NEVER live down!
I look forward to this book. It will do well.
You know that in these strange times there was a run on mind bleach!
I am trying not to be a No 6 “Undecider”, I just need to finish rebuilding the new to me house before I can build out the shop. Looking fort to the read, history, and healthy sprinkle of snark.
Where’s the pre order button?
Great! Just what I need – another book about a bench I may never build. Yes. That is exactly what I need. No. Really! I must wait, but I am already imagining turning the pages.
Final “Anarchist” book?
I’ll swim ashore.
I’m waiting for “The Anarchists Highboy.”
I’m holding out for “The Anarchists Wild Avian Domiciles And Cat Pantries”.
I hope you are good at holding your breath. Forever.
Well, if nothing on badgers, why not at least the ham sandwich? I’m still parsing what an anarchist ham sandwich might be.
Two slices of ham, with a slice of bread in the middle.
Anarchist’s birdhouse book?
Hmmmm… I clicked all over that post, Chris, and couldn’t find the preorder link. Is it broken?
Badgers?? We don’t got no badgers! We don’t have to show you any stinking badgers.
That’s great news Chris. The Anarchist books so far were awesome.
That’s Great News Chris
So, is this going to counter everything I learned in that first workbench class you taught way back when?
Yup. The book is just the Sjoberg catalog…. It absolutely is not a repudiation of my work as a whole. When you build so many forms and use them a lot you learn things. See things more clearly.
It’s a 37″ tall bench, isn’t it?
That’s great news Chris
I can’t wait! I have your other workbench books and will be happy to soak up even more info about workbenches.
Can we pre-order this book? If yes, when can we pre-order the book…Sorry, really liked the other 2 books and I just moved so looking to build a bench.
When pre-order opens, you already sold one. Thank you!
I’m in. Where’s the order link?
This announcement prompted me to look up the origin of my first workbench, which I still use almost every day. It was in the September 1980 issue of Woodworker’s Journal — the first issue in magazine, rather than newsprint format.
The base was pallet wood, long before that became fashionable. The bank of drawers was recycled lumber core plywood from kitchen cabinets. The top is maple. My only power tools were a corded drill and a Craftsman radial arm saw. It took me three passes to rip through 8/4 maple, and the basement was filled with so much smoke from burning wood that I couldn’t see past my hand. Zero dust collection (for many years).
I had my 20th birthday a few weeks before that issue arrived and I began the bench build. Would I do things differently today? Sure. I junked the front vise, a flea market “find” with a Record 53 after a few years of frustration. It works, but i dont love it. The tail vise is all wood, excepting the screw. It sags even more than some of me. But I still love a tail vise. It’s how I learned. I hate the tool tray. I might fill it in with concrete some day. I attached a large sheet of plywood to the back a long time ago, to control wracking — just as Chris does in his recent article. I would avoid the square Ulmia bench dogs and use the round wooden sort.
But I’ve made a ton of stuff on this fairly mediocre bench. It’s heavy, and does it’s job. I am still buying Chris’s book, and if you are about to build one, wait a couple of months. But don’t put off building while you research, research, research. Build a bench, and use it to build other stuff. Chris knows his ideal bench from 20 years ago is no longer ideal, and likely won’t be 20 years from now. Even a mediocre design from a mediocre magazine can do great work.
Of course I agree totally. No one needs this book or any other to build a fantastic and functional workbench. I remain an advocate of “working with what you got,” and my FWW article this month is (I hope) a clear expression of that.
I don’t have a lot of control over what makes me vomit out a book. I just choose to follow the bright string in the forest. If people get something out of it, great. If it doesn’t sell, we can recycle our books 100 percent. And then my book can become that book about a very brave snail that I always wanted to write.
Is that the snail that drives a little red car with a great big “S” painted on the side?
Looking forward to it Chris, in the meantime I’m building a coffin.
Now that is pandemic preparedness.
Nice. I already got one!
I finished my second coffin. One for my grandson, the second for my mother-in-law.
I can’t believe you wrote an entire book (almost a life’s work type book) in secret, built a bench in secret, was going to print it and sit on it so that for one day, you could say “surprise!”
That would have been so fun! A truly next level surprise! I’m disappointed for myself and super bummed for you that you didn’t get to do it. No question a copy will find it’s way on my shelf!
Was the general form of that new favourite bench featured in the workbench tour series?
I’m not trying to tease or be coy here. Yes, the benches I have built are the foundation for the new one. I’m sure someone will say: This bench is exactly like that bench. This is stupid. And they won’t read the book. And that’s OK.
I hope this isn’t the final Anarchist’s book. I remember reading or hearing from you that you were contemplating an Anarchist’s Guide to Finishing. I think I speak for many of us when I say that I would love to buy that book and have the results of all of your experimentation gathered together.
Even if you don’t want to publish something as gospel, or you think your experimentation has led to a lot of dead-ends, I’d love to have the things you have learned gathered together as a jumping off point for my own experimentation. Goodness knows that finishing is something I still struggle with, and I don’t think I’m alone in that either.
I hope you’ll be able to sum the book up in a few sentences here on the blog later on. 😉
That makes me curious! How can you be sure it will be the final book in the anarchist’s series? I would rather think three books are just the beginning of a series…
I’m thinking the anarchist’s workshop. The workbench needs a comfortable locale to be in.
I started writing that book a few years ago and absolutely hated where it went. I abandoned it because it turned into every darn “setting up shop” book I’d ever read. I was incapable of saying anything useful. I don’t know why that happened, but it did. So I stopped.
So . . . no “Dust Collection For The Anarchists Workshop” either.
I understand. I just mentioned it because I remember you mentioning something about it awhile ago. After many years of doing residential renovations, I have been gradually switching to custom furniture making. I finally drew up plans for a 1000sf woodworking shop (my dusty 350sf garage just does not make sense anymore to do decent work), and hopefully I will build it this summer. Like you say, all I could really find on the subject are “setting up shop” books. So I did the best I could with the experience I have designing something that will suit my needs.
Build the shop rather than set one up. Thinking 9×12 shed or cabin. Yeah thats it The Anarchist’s Cabin lol
The last chapter of the book will make it clear why it’s the final book in the series. I don’t like to tease people. And I’m not trying to be coy. The book has to be finished for me to offer a complete explanation.
I want to come down and pick this one up in person, along with a copy of the updated Anarchists Design Book. Fingers crossed for a favorable alignment of stars.
Do we know why the cherub is flattering a board?
*flattening (of course)
I thought the final book in the “anarchist” series would be about finishing. Did I make a mistake?
You are not mistaken. That book didn’t pan out. I worked on it for a good long time and it went nowhere.
That is too bad, good advice on finishing has eluded me. Best of luck with “The Anarchist’s Workbench.”
Just wondering if this new-fangled bench will have a toilet built-in like one those toilet chairs you’ve been raving about lately?
Looking at Andrew Hunter’s workbench made me completely redefine what I want from a workbench, and how to work using that one. Nevertheless I’ll buy this book, because I just like Chris’ books. But but but, I though there was a ‘finishes that won’t kill you’ book as the final ‘Anarchist’ series!
Looking forward to this. I just finished my French style bench, and I used your first book (unrevised), the “return of Roubo” article and the video with will meyers as my guides, plus what I had learned at the Krenov school, IM, and all the years reading your blog posts. I’m very happy with my bench, but I did have a feeling that, as a more seasoned writer, what you would write synthesizing all of this together and adding what you’ve learned but never written. I can’t wait to read it
I do look forward to this bok, a lot. Though i have the layout ready to my next workbench in mind.
I know what i want and what i dont want. But i did enjoy the other two books in the serie. They have been readed many times.
Keep up the good work.
Have you considered doing a boxed set of all the Anarchist’s books?
That would be one weird-looking box – the design book is taller and wider than the tool chest book. Maybe when we hit some anniversary we will reissue them all in the same format. And a box….
Hopefully the haters don’t hate on any redundancies between this book and your more historic workbench books and articles. I have long appreciated the evolving/ever learning nature of your content, as well as your more than one way to skin a cat approach. Will this book depict a revolutionary new paradigm for a heavy and stable flat surface with four sturdy legs… probably not. Will is capture decades of experience and historic research… most definitely. Very much looking forward to the last installment here.
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