‘The Anarchist’s Workbench.’ For Free. Forever.

At first glance, the workbench in “The Anarchist’s Workbench” appears to be almost identical to the bench I built in 2005, which has shown up in a number of magazines and books. It’s chunky, made from yellow pine and the workholding is a leg vise, planing stop and holdfasts.

Despite their similarities, the workbench plan in this book is a significant improvement. During the last 15 years I have found better ways to laminate the top using fewer clamps, easier ways to make the massive joints, plus layout tricks here and there that result in tighter joints all around. The top is thicker, heavier and creates less waste when using 2×12 dimensional lumber.

The workholding is far more effective. Thanks to improvements in vise manufacturing and a mature understanding of how these leg vises work, the vise is strong enough to hold boards without the help of a sliding deadman. There is no parallel guide, so you can work at the vise without stooping. The planing stop uses a metal tooth, made by a blacksmith, that holds your work with a lot less sliding. And the pattern of holdfast holes in the top – something that took me years to get right – ensures there will almost always be a hole right where you need one.

The fact that the bench is similar to my bench from 2005 is somewhat of a comfort to me. It means I wasn’t too far off the mark when I began my journey. And equally remarkable is that 15 years of building workbenches of all different forms, from Roman benches to a miniature one from Denmark, wasn’t able to shake my conviction that a simple timber-framed bench is ideal for many woodworkers.

In addition to the fully matured workbench design, this book also dives a little deeper into the past to explore the origins of this form. I first encountered this type of bench in a French book from about 1774, and at the time I couldn’t find much else written about it. Since then, libraries and museums have digitized their collections and opened them to the public. So we’ve been able to trace its origins back another 200 years and found evidence it emerged somewhere in the Low Countries or northern France in the 1500s. We also have little doubt there are more discoveries to be made.

And finally, the story of this bench is deeply intertwined with my own story as a woodworker, researcher, publisher and – of course – aesthetic anarchist.

That’s why we’ve decided to give away the content of this book to the world at large. When it is released later this summer, the electronic version of the book will be free to download, reproduce and give away to friends. You can excerpt chapters for your woodworking club. Print it all out, bind it and give it away as a gift. The only thing you cannot do is sell it or make money off of it in any way.

If you prefer a nicely bound book instead of an electronic copy, we sympathize. That’s what we prefer, too. So we plan to print some copies of this book for people who prefer it in that format. Those will cost money to manufacture (we don’t make low-quality crap here at Lost Art Press) so we won’t be able to give those away. But we will sell them – as always – at a fair price for a book that is printed in the United States, sewn, bound in fiber tape and covered in a durable hardback.

This book is the final chapter in the “anarchist” series – “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” “The Anarchist’s Design Book” and now “The Anarchist’s Workbench.” And it is (I hope) my last book on workbenches. So it seemed fitting that to thank all the woodworkers who have supported me during this journey, this book should belong to everyone.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. If this goes well, John and I are discussing making the other two books in the anarchist series free to download. We don’t know when (or exactly how) we will make that decision. But it is on the table.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
This entry was posted in The Anarchist's Design Book, The Anarchist's Tool Chest, The Anarchist's Workbench. Bookmark the permalink.

94 Responses to ‘The Anarchist’s Workbench.’ For Free. Forever.

  1. rcjennings says:

    Thanks – great bench, great work

  2. Jason says:

    Looking forward to getting a physical copy.

  3. Christopher Fitch says:

    Nice! Thanks for this

  4. Mac says:

    For me the tactile sensations of a good book will never be replaced by electrons. I will be overjoyed to order a hard copy. Making it available electronically for free will expand the population of these excellent benches. Thanks LAP!

  5. Erik Pearson says:

    I will happily purchase this book, and I suspect that by making the electronic copy free, workbench anarchy is about to be unleashed, for the greater good. Chapeau, sir!

  6. Dave P says:

    I will certainly purchase the printed copy!

  7. Mattias Hallin says:

    Wow. Just that. Wow. And wow!

    I will most emphatically buy a hard copy, though, beacuse that is how I, too, like to own my books.

    Again: wow!

    Mattias

  8. Bart says:

    When can we begin placing re-orders for the physical copy?

    • We are starting the layout process this week. I think we are four weeks away from taking pre-publication orders for the hardbound book and releasing the electronic copy to the world.

      • Awesome! When the book comes out late this summer, I just need to try and remember that I preordered it four weeks from now so I don’t end up with two copies (See: Charles Hayward Vol. IV).

  9. Bart says:

    I meant “pre-orders”

  10. Christopher O says:

    “Later this summer”. I’ll be ordering the physical copy whenever it becomes available. I’m looking forward to the journey.

  11. JohnH says:

    What a great unusual business model! Give something away for free which only frees up my dollars to buy another one of the Lost Art Press books. Now I’ll be ordering the new Kitchen Think book which I was planning on buying anyway. Now I’ll buy it much sooner! Thanks for the early Christmas gift! Your Karma just jumped many many points!

  12. taldeus says:

    When can we pre-order! I want a hardcopy or two as well!

  13. Gary Muto says:

    Very nice. Thank you.I do have several of your books including 2 workbench books. I’ll be happy to add this one!

  14. LAP stands alone in the pantheon of publishers for its generosity and commitment to it’s community of customers. Well done Chris and LAP team! Well done!

  15. fedster9 says:

    Chris, I feel duty-bound to buy a hard copy then. And a hard copy for any friend I might send the PDF to. I have switched to buying PDFs of the LAP books, but I shall start to get hard copies too.

  16. Justin R says:

    This is very exciting and generous. I will be buying the hard copy because I love the hard copies escpecially the beautiful books printed by LAP. Can’t wait!

  17. John Verreault says:

    Mr. Schwarz that is a fantastic gift to all of us. Thank you.
    I will download it once you have the link up BUT I will also buy a print copy as soon as they are available (my library wouldn’t looked balanced with a trilogy just doing a duet).

  18. Screw you guys. I’m going to buy a copy, and don’t try to stop me.

  19. ronhogan says:

    Add me to the list of people who will buy the print edition to add to my library.

  20. Jim Abbruzzese says:

    Consider this another in the growing list of comments saying we’ll buy the book. You can’t take my money fast enough.

  21. Todd Henry says:

    Fantastic. I’ve been considering a new bench and this will for sure tip me over. I will enjoy the e-copy and gladly will buy a hard copy.

    Great stuff, Chris. Thanks !

  22. David O. Evers says:

    I’m in the minority preferring an electronic copy–so much easier to store and find again later. Any thoughts of providing a donation box to help offset your living…and gracious sharing?

  23. Pascal Teste says:

    Thank you, very generous! I will still buy a copy when available up here north of the 49th so my future students can consult it and discover the great LAP books.

  24. Wow. Just wow. Hats off.

  25. Eric R says:

    Thank you !!!

  26. paul straka says:

    You guys rock!

  27. Dakota Burgener says:

    Im really excited for this book. Im at the point now in my woodworking journey that I need a bench with good work holding. There couldn’t be better timing. I will be getting a hard copy to add to the collection. The quality of book LAP puts out is top notch I have no doubt the books will out last my lifetime. Thanks for all the content you put out. I’ve learned everything that I know about hand tool woodworking from your books and this blog.

  28. erikhinkston says:

    I love qualifying for/getting the free one when I preorder all of your offerings. Bold strategy on this one, you’ll make it up on volume I’m sure…
    Genius!

  29. Gerry Cox says:

    Perversely, despite the obvious allure of the free PDF, I now want to buy the hard copy. You may have discovered a new way to generate sales!

  30. Blue Wren says:

    This is incredibly generous and a lovely tribute to all the scanned free content that helped you in the development of it. Very nice gesture indeed.

  31. Richard Collins says:

    Absolutely awesome! I have been intrigued by the idea of this bench ever since you announced it. When I read your blog today letting us know your intention, I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was surprised and so happy. I don’t know how to thank you for your generosity to the community of makers, readers, and followers of this site. I will be buying many more of the books you publish in the future because of your generosity and because they are such great quality items in addition to the content contained in each one. Again, thank you. I look forward to reading this.

  32. Paul Cleary says:

    Thanks from a reader who lives in New Zealand for the electronic copy. It makes getting hold of the book so much easier, given the high cost of international postage charges.
    Paul

  33. Tyler Anderson says:

    I am looking forward to the book! I won’t be building the bench any time soon, as I am very happy with the bench I built from your last book, but it will be interesting to see your thoughts, and maybe when my kids get older, I will give one of them my current bench and build a new one.

  34. Keith Mealy says:

    Your legacy will live for generations. Years from now someone will pick up your book and gain extreme knowledge from it (or consider a revision and republishing). Thank you for all you have done for woodworking.

  35. mjstauss says:

    Such a great way to give back to woodworking! Of course, I’ll still buy a copy, because the other two will look lonely on my bookshelf without it.

  36. OldhamWoodworks says:

    A huge thanks to you, Chris, and to the LAP. For those of us who are woodworking on a budget, this will be an amazing resource. I’m looking forward to purchasing this book and many others in your catalogue when I can afford to do so.

  37. Patrick says:

    You guys are a marketing geniuses.

  38. Patrick says:

    You guys are marketing geniuses.

  39. Andrew Brant says:

    I just finished my “lifetime” bench, and happy to say it looks an awful lot like the newest one, since I used a combination of the first workbench book, the will meyers video and the “return of Roubo” cherry top article as my reference points- with my Krenov school training and help from Laura Mays to fill in the details. Needless to say, I’ll be buying a physical copy of this book as soon as I’m able, and by the time it arrives I’m sure I’ll have read the digital one twice over.

  40. Peggy Schneider says:

    I love physical books. I can’t wait to buy this one. I’ll also download it. Thanks, Chris!

  41. For your Canadian fans, will the physical copies be available from Lee Valley?

  42. Morgan R. says:

    First things, I will be buying one (or more) copies. Second, does this replace the workbench book(s) you did previously? I own both of those as well, and was about to send a copy to a friend who needs to build his first real bench.

    • I didn’t write it to replace anything per se. The design is where I have ended up after 20 years of research and building. And its attributes satisfy what is important to me: simple to build with basic tools, inexpensive, heavy and 100 percent functional.

  43. Joe H says:

    This is a very generous gift, Chris. As others have stated, I will plan to purchase a hard copy when it becomes available.

    Thanks very much to you and to all at LAP…this is very much appreciated.

  44. I would love a hard copy but the ebook will be so much easier for us down under in Oz. Postage is such a cost consideration here.

    Thank you so much for the anarchistic generosity. I’m watching some of your videos on hand tools and they are so informative and helpful! Need to dig out a cheap jack plane from somewhere now!

  45. Thomas W. Hoyt says:

    I just moved to a new house in October. Ready to set up my shop & bench. NEED a download/pdf NOW… well…. soon, anyway. Otherwise I’ll reassemble the one I built out of PW several years back.

  46. steve P says:

    Quick question. Will there be a guide for a blacksmith to make the olaning stop? I have a neighbor who has a small blacksmith side business I would like to hire him for but don’t really know how to explain what I want made. Looking forward to the book, most likely a physical copy.

  47. 50 years from now, when people are rediscovering woodworking in the wasteland, they’ll all think of Christopher the way that we currently think of Marty Spoonwood or Messrs. Nicholson and Roubo.

  48. As someone who is knee deep in sliding dovetail tenons, I’m forlorn to see that the ultimate workbench does not have them. Did I miss a memo? Is there a downside, or are they just not worth the extra work?

    • Christopher O says:

      Check the workbench tour of the french roubo. He said he didn’t like dealing with the end grain when the wood dries.

  49. John Mak says:

    Unbelievable. No need to say more.

  50. This is the soul of LAP.

  51. Mark Lindey says:

    I’ll download it, I’ll buy the printed edition, and when a second edition comes out, I’ll buy that too.
    Yeah, I know you said this will be your last workbench book, but nobody seriously believes that.

  52. Steve V says:

    Looking forward to the physical book and download. And, to figuring out how I might fit the benchcrafted leg/ tail vise still in their boxes waiting for a home.

  53. Luke B says:

    Looking forward to ordering a copy if/when it makes it over to the UK!

  54. Jim Linn says:

    Here’s the funny thing…

    I was a Captain for Flybe, an airline in Britain that went into administration in March. So, I lost my job. Since then, thousands of pilots in Europe have also lost their jobs. Because of my age, 59, there’s no chance of another flying job anywhere, ever again. By my company going bust, one of my pensions almost evaporated. So, I need a way to keep the wolf from the door.

    So I’m thinking, I’ve no desire to work for anyone else ever again because everyone is useless and, if I have to work for someone useless I might as well work for myself. I can make stuff with wood, so why not give it a go? Then, I thought, first I’m going to make a proper workbench to replace the rickety one.

    Then I find that the newest book at LAP is on workbenches, and now it’s going to be available free!

    I feel that Someone has my back. I promise that when I sell my first “thing made from wood”, I’ll buy the Anarchists Workbench.

    Thanks Chris and Crew.

  55. Patrick Price says:

    What a generous gesture. Thank you very much.

  56. Timothy Henriksen says:

    Agree with JA … classy!

  57. Paul Frederick says:

    Now if I could only download the wood to build a bench for free the world would be a perfect place. Oh, and have the time to make it too. That’d be nice.

  58. Paul Z says:

    Shouldn’t that last line be”It’s on the bench?” 🙂 Thanks Chris, been following and using your advice for many many years. Much appreciated!!

  59. Mike G says:

    Chris, I’m just going to say that you, John, and all the folks around you are the best. I can’t think of many people who would put so much work into making something so useful and then look for ways to give it away free. Like many others I plan on buying a copy when it’s printed just to hopefully thank you for all you do a little bit. I also love beautiful books and it’s a pleasure every time I pick up the books I have from Lost Art. Cheers sir!

  60. Martin says:

    Hallo, Chris, many thanks to your offer; I will download an as a over 60 years old person I will buy it, if I can it order at Dictum/Germany and next year, I hope you can sign my book at Dictum

    Kindest

    Martin

  61. Cool. Thanks!

  62. Ted Wojcik says:

    Better double the press run you were figuring on. ;^) If this is a worthy endpoint for your workbench wanderings of 20 years or so, it’s got to be nigh on perfect. I’ll certainly want a copy, if for no other reason than to steal ideas to add to my bench. ;^)

  63. Al Flinck says:

    Free knowledge! A class act. And a model on which we change the world. In the sustainable economy of the future, knowledge will be free for all who want it. Your action goes far beyond woodworking and art as an actual contribution to a better future for all. Thank you. My money will for sure go where my mouth goes.

  64. Chris Collins says:

    So…I’m a week or two away from being able to start building my bench. This is great timing. So…that leg vise appears to be a Benchcrafted classic presumably with some variety of crisscross. For the sake of getting my hardware in before the book comes out, any specifics?

  65. Joe W says:

    Anarchist! What’s next? Telling us to make our own glue / paint / furniture?

    Seriously, it’s a cool move.

  66. Jeff says:

    Open soure workbench… so cool. Thanks for all that you do, I’m just getting into building things with my bare hands and a couple of great tools. All that you’ve shared is very much helping me, and like virtually all others here, I’m 100% looking forward to buying a hardback of the Anarchist’s Workbench. Appreciatively.

  67. Jesse Griggs says:

    Thanks! Looking forward to it. About that mini danish bench…. i can’t find any reference to it. Was that the milkman’s bench?

      • Jesse Griggs says:

        The milkman’s is a fantastic bench! I built one in april and brought it and my dtc (another pandemic project) when we spent two weeks with my in-laws who live in the middle of nowhere. That trip was my first experience building anything hand tool only. Great fun!

        Did you ever figure out a way to keep the face vise screws from marring your work? I lined the inside jaw with crubber and used a small piece of crubber between the piece and screw. It worked but was really fiddly. I often dropped the piece of crubber on the floor when repositioning the stock.

        Anyway, i’d highly recommend building a milkman’s bench (even with construction lumber) if any of the following apply: 1) you might travel or work in different locations. 2) you have limited space. 3) you’re considering a wagon vise for your new full size bench (i am and have decided to). 4) you hate your current bench but are waiting for lumber to season, or for chris’ new book. 5) you need a crazy cheap bench (the only cost is tools for making the wooden screws, but bolts/ threaded rod would work).

  68. Chris Baldridge says:

    Hey Chris – the other two books sit on my bedside table like bibles and as a fledgling woodworker I reference them often as much for the philosophy for a design and build as the practical, physical tips.

    Given that I’ve been doing all my work to date on a poorly shaped 2×4 bench that moves like ocean waves when I plane, I’m stoked to purchase the 3rd book and to finally construct a bench worthy of a lifetime of work.

    Thanks for all you’ve done for the craft and the mentality.

  69. CHRIS BARCLAY says:

    It’s probably right in front of my face, but I can’t figure out how to download the free book/plans…

    • Hi Chris,

      The book will be released in July. We’ll post a blog entry here with the link to download a pdf. You won’t have to register for anything, give us an email or anything. Just click and it will be yours.

      • drip says:

        Thanks guys – Any way you could announce the actual release date for July? Also maybe what kind of wood I need to start the drying process? New woodworker here

        • Unlike real publishing companies, we don’t have release dates. We will put it out on the day it is done. Not trying to be snarky here. That’s just how we work.

          The bench is made from construction timbers. I used yellow pine.

          To build the benchtop, you’ll need nine clear 2x12x8’ boards. For the base, three 2x12x12’s and three 2x10x10’s.

  70. William Weatherall says:

    I’m really excited to read this. I’m a huge fan of your work.

  71. I need another workbench like I need a hole in the head (some would beg to differ on the head thing). But I always need another book. Hopefully it has another picture of an old dude for you to draw a mustache on when you sign it.

    • The world doesn’t need another workbench book. But I needed to write one more. To say things exactly right. Set the record straight. And deal with the death of my father.

      • Oh shoot NO! I wasn’t saying your book wasn’t needed, I just can’t fit another bench in my shop. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to a final assessment based on your original opinions through years of use to a point that you can see the difference between the two. Anyone can give a first impression, it takes years to come to a final conviction.

  72. Rudy Everts says:

    You are the best, Chris. Really looking forward to this last instalment in the Anarchist series. The other two are some of the most influential books I own and I couldn’t be the woodworker I am now without them. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with for the cover!

  73. Bruno Luecking says:

    Thanks Chris, that’s very generous! I will use the download as a possibility for a sneak preview and furthermore I am looking very much forward to holding the printed version in my hands as soon as it will be available in Europe.

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