Anarchist Inspired Workbench

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Originally posted elsewhere April, 2022

Finally got my workbench completed.  This is inspired by Chris Schwartz's The Anarchist's Workbench book which you can download in ebook format for free.  I don't have room for his 8' bench so I drew up my own plans in Sketchup for a 6' version.  The bench is about 74" long by 23" wide and the top of the bench is about 34" tall.  I follow CS's recommended 5" thick top.   I blogged about my build journey  where you read about some of the steps I took and of course I got some great advice from the brain trust in the Work Bench Smack Down forum.  As usual, builds like this turn out to be a Lumberjocks community effort.

A special thanks goes out to Dave of "KellyCrafts" who provided the Stanley 203 bench bracket in the second picture and Mike "Duckmilk" who forged me some holdfasts for which I have not yet drilled holes for.  Before I start drilling holes, I want to be thoughtful so that I don't turn my new bench in to swiss cheese.

The bench is made from Southern yellow pine, except for the leg vise chop which is black cherry.  One reason I liked Chris Schwatz's idea to use SYP is that I am less likely to be afraid to use and ding it if it is not some fancy hardwood. The leg vise and wagon vise hardware are from Hovarter.  I really like the quick release mechanism and I especially like the wagon vise.  One reason for building this now is that I have started using hand planes more over the last couple of years and really needed more friendly workbench for that.  I have been using my assembly and outfeed table but it just wasn't great for work holding even though I added a face vise a while back.  I have been using wagon vise on the new bench for a couple of months now and that is really a game changer for me.  My original plan was to use some of the same cherry to put an end cap for the wagon vise but frankly, the temporary one I made with a scrap of the pine works just fine so I may never do that.

To dress it up a little, I decided to use my CNC to do an inlay into the leg vise chop.  The top was inspired by an art deco stained glass image I saw online somewhere and the bottom is a makers mark that has also become my new avatar image.

This was definitely a hybrid build using everything from my CNC to hand planes, saws and mortising chisels.  Not too many tools in my shop that didn't get used at one time or another.    A great skill building project for anyone and building some sort of work bench whether traditional or modern style really is sort of a rite of passage that most woodworkers should tackle at some point.  I can finally check that box off my to-do list.  I need to make some bench hooks and doe's feet I still need to make a full set of square dogs to replace the temporary ones but those will come sort of as I need them.

Thanks for looking.

EDIT:  In case anyone would like a Sketchup drawing as a starting point for their own modified design, I will include a link to the 3D warehouse.




--Nathan, TX. Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

24 Comments

Wow.  What a beautiful and solid addition to your shop.  I see wheels - how difficult is it to move?
What a beautiful bench. I have seen it first hand and it looks even better in person. If it were mine it would probably be in my dining room, not my shop!
i gotta agree, it's fine furniture in it's own right. but hopefully it gets plenty of use as it was meant to !

working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

Really like the bench, with a very think top tomake it a sturdy workhorse. Well done.

Main Street to the Mountains

Oooooh! Nice bench!
It is so nice to have beautiful shop furniture. I’ll bet that gives you a little internal smile every time you walk into the shop.

The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

I love that bench. Someday, when I have room, I’ll build one from Schwartz’s book. Great job!!

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

I keep trying to figure out how to fit one of these in my shop. Every time I see one I start to drool. This bench is ho exception!
Thanks guys.  

BB1, the wheels make it very easy to move.  Definitely a must have in my crowded shop.  With concrete floors I could slowly slide it but the casters make it a one-handed operation.   These castors are from Peachtree (Fulton I think) with a spring loaded mounting bracket that allows me to remove/replace them without fiddling with a pin like the others have.  They do not get in the way but this way I can add another set of mounting brackets to my 400lb lathe when I need to move it around.  I bought the extra brackets but have not added them to the lathe yet.

Paul, It is placed in my shop where it is pretty much the first thing I see when I go out to the shop.  It is still new enough that I still stop and smile each time I walk in there.  

Ryan, I drew up my own version in Sketchup because Schwartz's bench design is 8' long which would probably require something to leave the shop for it to fit.  There is nothing fancy about the my drawing, I did this to figure out the exact dimensions for all of the parts, but I will gladly share them with if anyone is interested.  If nothing else, it might save some time designing your own version.  

--Nathan, TX. Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

Thats one good looking bench Nathan. 
Nathan - that art deco inlay still makes me stop and stare.  Great looking bench!!!!

BTW - where is the pose shot?
You tell him Earl! Where is the pose Nathan?
I love your bench.

"Duck and Bob would be out doin some farming with funny hats on." chrisstef

Thanks guys.  

Earl, no one REALLY wants to see that.  

--Nathan, TX. Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

I missed this one. It’s one of the nicest workbench’s I ever did see. Great work. I’d be afraid to us it 😀 

James McIntyre

Well done, Nathan.  I am drooling too.  I, however, do not see any anarchy in there.

No Bees. No Honey. Bees Lives Matter

Thanks guys.  

Hah,  You should see the anarchy that is sitting on top of it right now.  Horizontal space is sometimes a curse.  I have to admit that for about the first 6 months I was a little tentative when using it.  That is actually one reason I decided to go with SYP.   Not too many dings yet but it definitely gets used.  

--Nathan, TX. Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

Yes, well, everybody knows - the drill press - is where all the good anarchy happens.

No Bees. No Honey. Bees Lives Matter

WildBrianWood
commented about 14 hours ago
Well done, Nathan.  I am drooling too.  I, however, do not see any anarchy in there. 
if your drooling now wait for pose LOL 

a real nice bench Nathan i love the idea to be able to move it 😍😎👍

*TONY ** Reinholds* ALWAYS REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN

It's been a year now.  Have you drilled holes for the holdfasts yet?
Yes.  I have.  I might need one or two more.  The hold fast that Duckmilk made for me works great, even with the 5" thick top.  

Tony, the casters are great.  With how crammed full my shop is, being able to move it around, even just a little, is a necessity.  

--Nathan, TX. Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

Nathan,

Outstanding work!


Petey