Best Workbenches
from the Editors of
Fine Woodworking

Softcover
215 x 275mm
171pp

Published by The Taunton Press, Connecticut, USA.

R.R.P.$30.90

ISBN 978-1-60085-389-0

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As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 166

No matter how many tools and machines a woodworker acquires, the workbench remains the central focus of the workshop.

The power to substantially change the form and shape of wood may reside largely in machines, but much of the pleasure of working in wood is experienced at the bench.

Yet, having acquired our first bench, we are often loathe to think of changing it. Of course we know it could be improved. But it's hard to know where to start.

If you have reached the stage where you are interested in improving upon your present bench, this book offers a wide range of options. Not all of them are concerned with its complete replacement; some are additions or alterations intended to make your work easier and faster.

The book is comprised of a series of articles by a number of authors. As usual with this kind of book, it presents diverse views which adds to the value of the contents. A possible downside of this approach arises from the difficulty encountered by those responsible for combining the articles into a single comprehensible and sensible whole - a challenge ably met in this instance by the Fine Woodworking editors.

The book begins with a brief overview of the history of the workbench, followed by somewhat longer and more detailed analyses of what makes a good bench (by three authors, each of whom provides drawings and constructional information for benches they believe have the essential attributes necessary to perform their function effectively).

A couple of pages in this introductory part of the book contain notes on a few of the current crop of commercially made benches. (To this reviewer's knowledge, only one is available in this region.)

Next is a design for a tool cabinet to fit beneath a bench, then a 'rock-solid' plywood bench and a heavy-duty workbench.

A Small Bench that Works, a Bench Built to Last (which is large and sturdy, straddling a stack of storage drawers) and a New Fangled workbench (which has a number of unusual features) are the last of the series.

The remaining half of the book is taken up with custom made devices that are designed to hold workpieces, ideas for improving your present workbench and several specialised workbenches, ie. benches designed with specific features. The latter include a low assembly bench, a clamping station (now there's an idea) and an adjustable height worktable on wheels.

It's an eclectic collection, all presented in the same straight-forward professional manner as the workbenches in the earlier part of the book.

Despite its diversity and the many benches described in detail, this is essentially a thoughtful book about a subject that is of prime concern to all woodworkers.

Photos: Colour

Units of Measurement: Imperial

Contents

Introduction

Part One - Choosing a Workbench
- The Workbench: An Illustrated Guide 4
- Forget What You Know about Workbenches
- Ready-Made Workbenches

Part Two - Workbenches That Work
- A Workbench Thirty Years in the Making
- The Essential Workbench
- Tool Cabinet for a Workbench
- A Rock-Solid Plywood Bench
- A Heavy-Duty Workbench
- A Bench Built to Last
- A Small Workbench That Works
- A New-Fangled Workbench

Part Three - Holding Workpieces
- Holding Your Work
- Making Sense of Vises
- Thirteen Bench Vises
- Expand Your Workbench with Versatile Bench Hooks
- Installing a Cast-Iron Vise
- Bar-Clamp End Vise
- Holding Carvings Securely

Part Four - Improving a Workbench
- Tune Up Your Workbench
- A Sliding Bench Jack Holds Boards on Edge at Any Height
- Pipe-Clamp Parts Make a Workbench More Versatile
- A Rolling Lift for Your Workbench
- Workbench Extension Lengthens Clamping Capacity
- Adjustable Support for a Workbench

Part Five - Specialized Workbenches
- A Benchtop Bench
- An Adjustable-Height Worktable on Wheels
- A Commercially Available Adjustable Bench
- A Convertible Clamping Workstation
- A Low Assembly Bench

Metric Equivalents
Sources
Contributors
Credits
Index