I’ve had the pleasure of reading Christopher Schwarz’s “Workbenches : From design and theory to construction and use” this week after finding it build on the bottom shelf of the woodworking section of the local library and I’m currently wishing I’d found it a few weeks earlier.
It’s highlighted some issues with my recent workbench build that I’m sure would have come up anyway through use, but this has sped up the process of finding those flaws.
Firstly, I should have mounted the rails flush to the front of the bench so I could use the front stretcher as the back vice face and made use of the full width with the vice. This would have also made it possible to clamp boards for dovetailing to the front of the bench. Instead I left a 4cm overhand which is great for clamping but not for much else, as the struggle to get the vice faces on had already highlighted.
I think this would have the added benefit of letting my screw the top down on every edge and knock the last of the bow out of the top. It’s a lot better thanks to the weight I’ve had on it and the clamps but still isn’t quite flat.
Secondly, I have limited my ability to use holddowns and benchdogs properly by adding the cabinet below the bench. As much as I like it there if it’s going to stop the bench doing the job it was built for it has to move so I’ll use it elsewhere. This problem is at least easily fixed.
There’s a couple of other things the book has made me want to add – a crochet and a sliding deadman. Both could come in very handy.
I’ve decided to take the opportunity of the bench not quite being finished to fix some of these issues. To fix the overhang, all I need to do is cut a few more crossbars a bit longer and replace the existing ones, which will let me fix some messy joinery and possibly strengthen the bench in the process. The cupboard will just unscrew, and I will look at routing a grove for a sliding deadman.
It may seem silly to some to take an almost fully built workbench apart right away and make changes but I’d rather get it right the first time. I’ll keep you updated on the changes.