another benefit of a simple workbench

Give me ten years or so & I catch on all right. I was for some reason last week using my old German workbench, with its end vise and steel dogs. I forget why, and it doesn’t matter. I was planing some short-ish stock, under 2 feet long. And what I found was the shavings piled up in the midst of the bench’s length, and then got swept onto the floor right in front of the bench. In other words, in the way…

I built what I call my joiners’ bench just about 9 years ago, and within a year or so really settled into it.


planing at the bench

You can see in Moxon’s lousy engraving that the bench hook, (the planing stop w iron teeth) is set way back near the end of the bench.


Moxon's bench hook

(here is a recent re-take on the bench hook, with a link to an earlier post too )


In part this is so you can work the longest stock without any special arrangement, but also I think it’s so the shavings fly off the end of the bench, out of your way. And that is another benefit of the joiners’ style bench – less frequent sweeping.

8 thoughts on “another benefit of a simple workbench

  1. Thanks for the post. I am trying to decide whether to build this style of bench or the more English style. I have C. Swartz’s book that gives plans for both, but am torn between the two. The english style is probably more in my skill/tool set, but I like the idea of the massiveness and solidity of the French style jointer’s bench. Any advise?

    • Having built a split-top Roubo, I can think of three reasons to build an English/Nicholson bench.

      1. It’s top is much easier to put together. This is why I went split-top on the Roubo. It’s still 20 pieces, but just 10 at a time.

      2. If you want to work with your tools all in a particular style, E/N may be what’s appropriate.

      3. If you’re not going to use knock-down hardware (I did), a full-grown Moxon is a beast to move.

      I suspect you’ll be quite happy with whichever one you build.

  2. While reading all the recent material on benches (and building a split-top Roubo), I’ve become convinced a good bench becomes great as a result of all the little details that aren’t yet understood.

    Thanks for documenting another of these details.

  3. There was a request recently re ancient chair types. Locally they made Clun chairs; ladderback/rung back with board seats; mainly bodged, a massive chair for a 40 stone guy; elm, bodged legs, sawn back rail and sub rails, mighty adzed elm seat.

    On workbenches you should see Mike Abbott’s latest book showing his shavehorse; fitted with a top to make into a light work bench. Bob the Bodger xx

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