I’ve only just begun using hand tools alongside my power tools: buying, restoring and using handplanes, understanding rake and fleam on hand saws and sharpening blades and chisels to perfection. All of this will take me a lot of (fun) time to practice, practice and practice. And what better place to do that then on a beautiful and useful workbench.
I’ve recently finished my assembly table and absolutely love it. I have already put together numerous projects on it and it all goes much faster, smoother and more accurately now that I have a dead flat surface. The top is very tall, but I like that for assembly. However, my first attempts at handplaning have me fumbling around trying to grip the wood.
Enter Workbenches. This book is an absolute joy to read. Chris is a wonderful writer who entertains while giving full description and robust information. You can tell that a lot of background research, thought and experience went into the writing of this book. Constant reference to source material (old woodworking books) along with hands-on techniques gives credibility to Chris’ conclusions throughout the book.
But what is awesome about this book is that it tells you how to think about building your own workbench. Not just pretty pictures to ooh and aah over (tho, there are those too!). Chris goes through in detail all of the everyday tasks that a bench needs to perform (e.g. hold a board for working the edge) and then breaks those down into how a bench can accomplish that task (e.g. front vice plus deadman). He gives various options and ranks them based on his own experience. The reader can then use this list to craft his or her own bench.
Chris offers full building details (walkthrough and drawings) of two of his favorite workbenches that he’s also built and used. The steps are given in enough detail to easily follow along.
I highly recommend this book to anyone at all interested in woodworking. Chris’ writing is superb and the information is highly useful. Even if you have a dream bench, there will be new ways to look at it. And if you don’t, you’ll start dreaming of making one.