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Workbenches: From Design And Theory To Construction And Use (Popular Woodworking) Hardcover – November 7, 2007

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Frequently Bought Together

Workbenches: From Design And Theory To Construction And Use (Popular Woodworking) + The Workbench Design Book: The Art & Philosophy of Building Better Benches + Workbench, The: A Complete Guide to Creating Your Perfect Bench
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Product Details

  • Series: Popular Woodworking
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Popular Woodworking Books (November 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558708405
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558708402
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Christopher Schwarz is the editor of Popular Woodworking and Woodworking Magazine and is a long-time amateur furniture-maker and hand-tool enthusiast. He began working with wood at age 8 when his family members built their first home on their farm outside Hackett, Ark., using hand tools because there was no electricity. After studying journalism at Northwestern University and The Ohio State University, Chris became a newspaper reporter but studied furniture-making at night at the University of Kentucky and joined the staff of Popular Woodworking in 1996. In addition to his duties at Popular Woodworking, Chris writes about hand tools for The Fine Tool Journal and has four DVDs on traditional hand tool use produced and sold by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. He teaches handwork at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking and Kelly Mehler's School of Woodworking.

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Customer Reviews

Just expect that slant when you read the book.
Wood Wizard
I was looking for a workbench design and while the book has two very good designs I think I will use the background information from the book to design my own.
M. A. Catlin
If you are considering building (or buying) a workbench, you really must read this book.
Wayne Cannon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Timothy N. dePlume on February 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Workbenches: From Design and Theory to Construction and Use is an accurately titled, insightful book about craftsmanship in a woodworking shop, written by a prolific young author who happens also to be editor of Popular Woodworking magazine. Workbench design is the backdrop Schwarz chooses this time to set the stage for an energetic discussion about woodcraft, his favorite topic. The author has researched, built and used many styles and variations of the woodworker's workbench, and he shares incisive observations about what works, what doesn't, and why.

Building a really good woodworker's workbench is far too much labor to undertake without first reading a couple of good books on the topic, and this book should be first among them. Schwarz raises several issues that I thought, incorrectly, I had already fully considered based on the oodles of time I had invested in thinking about, researching and drawing bench designs. Before I read this book, I had already resolved to build a certain general style of workbench. Although reading the book didn't alter my basic conception, it did lead to several important design changes.

Some examples: Before I read the book, I hadn't considered the benefit of aligning the front of the benchtop with the front side of the front legs. I altered my design a bit to make sure the ends of the vise handles at rest would be slightly below the plane of the benchtop so as not to interfere with handplanes, knuckles and flat workpieces that extend beyond the benchtop. I decided to do more extensive testing of different bench heights, as Schwarz cautions that a couple of inches too high or too low can make a world of difference to a woodworker's lower back and thus to his or her enjoyment of the craft.
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104 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Mickey Shipwreck on November 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As an avid reader of Christopher Schwarz's various articles and columns in woodworking magazines, I've been awaiting the publication of this book with anticipation. Now that I've read it I have to say that it's better than I expected, and my expectations were very high.

I've read a number of books and articles on workbenches (notably the ones by Lon Schleining and Scott Landis, which are valuable for what they are: surveys of various styles of workbenches, with info on how to build a few of them). This book is different. Not just a little different. Radically different.

Schwarz is not just a good writer. He is an extremely good writer, vastly better than the majority of writers about woodworking; better than most writers, period. He is not merely capable of explaining things clearly, or of organizing his text coherently. His writing is actually enjoyable to read. He has the ability to combine highly technical information with a kind of narrative structure, within which personal experience, historical research and theoretical conceptualization come together almost seamlessly. One could describe the book as almost an essay in the classical, Montaignesque sense: a personal, spiraling account of a particular subject, whose compelling structure takes the reader along on a wide-ranging voyage of discovery, and makes the reader a companion of the author as he works out his own thinking. However, this should not be understood as saying that the book is in any way vague, for it isn't. I mean to underline its powerfully engaging quality. I believe somebody who wasn't a woodworker, who had no plans whatsoever to construct a workbench, would enjoy reading it.

Schwarz is also a gifted scholar and theoretician, a trait not typical of woodworkers, of writers about woodworking.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By J. Berry on November 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've followed along in Popular Woodworking and his blog as Christopher Schwarz has developed this book. I've seen Chris on TV and read a number of his contributions to other books on hand tools. He's always impressed me as an excellent teacher/writer but also as a serious student of the craft.

I was concerned that being so familiar with his work that I would be "re-reading" previously published material. I am happy to say that not only is the book full of information new to me but that it was a pleasure to read some of the familiar clips again.

To me the real value from this work is in gaining a sold understanding of "Why the workbench?" and how its design can be adapted to your kind of work to deliver so much additional pleasure in your work. There are two great heritage benches detailed in this book. Each can be easily constructed (easy as in technically easy - it is called "wood WORKing" after all). Either will likely remain for generations of craftsmen to use.

Finally, even though this is a "technical" work - it is a tremendous pleasure to read, witty and accessible. I have waited to read Christopher's book before building my bench. I'm glad I did and can't wait to start.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By R. T. Mallard on December 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must for anyone considering building, purchasing or modifying a woodworking bench. Even if you are not looking to change a bench, the information on holding work is invaluable. It is unique look at workbench design from the standpoint of the myriad of woodworking functions that can be performed on a bench. Christopher Schwarz' approach provides a wealth of information that helps the reader decide the features of a bench adapted to their own work. It is also a good read. The author's self deprecating humor is woven throughout as he compares and contrasts various features of bench design. This is a five star addition to any woodworker's library.
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