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Thread: Anarchist workbench?

  1. #1
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    Anarchist workbench?

    Having followed some of the workbench 'trends' over the years... from Roubo to Nicholson to Moravian... I'm a little surprised that when I search around on various forums, there seem to be surprisingly few (as in, almost none) examples of Schwarz's "anarchist workbench" floating around in the wild.

    Was / Is it a flop for some reason I missed? Or is it generally considered just another iteration of the classic Roubo design?

  2. #2
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    First, the book has only been out about a year, not a lot of time for many to be built.

    Second it is, really, advice about how to build a Roubo at a minimum expense. I'm sure many people who use it would identify their results as a Roubo-style bench and not make explicit reference to the source of the plans.

    Third, he often doesn't give explicit directions, but rather advice on how to optimize it to your circumstances. (E.g. buying the local wood that's cheapest per pound so you maximize the mass for stability. For him that's Southern Yellow Pine, but he doesn't make it a recipe to tell me to get SYP.)

  3. #3
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    I referenced the book when I built my bench last spring. I also looked at other designs and made a hybrid that works for me. I found The Anarchist Workbench plans very helpful for sorting some dimensions and layout. I consider mine a modified Roubo. It’s made of hardwood and has a tail vice.

  4. #4
    I wouldn’t consider the Anarchist’s Workbench another iteration of the classic Roubo – I’d call it an almost exact copy of the bench depicted in Roubo’s book. Doesn’t get much more classic than that, unless you want to go before Roubo. Roubo obviously didn’t invent the bench. People had been using benches like that; he just documented it in a book that became popular and has stood the test of time – so we call the bench a “Roubo.” I would consider an iteration of the Roubo to be something like a split-top, or incorporating a twin-screw end-vise, or something like that.

  5. #5
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    If anyone is interested a free .pdf of the book is available here > https://blog.lostartpress.com/2020/0...sts-workbench/

    My recollection of posts on SMC was the discussion of using inexpensive local woods for making benches.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  6. #6
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    It was my major guide in building my first bench. I'm sure I'm not alone.

  7. #7
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    I really went rogue - bought the video for the Schwarz Two-Day workbench. The leg system is massive but the bench top is two 1.5" butcher block counters (25" x 8') laminated. It replaced a shorter one and frankly, I love it it. Stays flat, have learned where to put the dogs and where not to in order to keep shavings out. Face vise and tail vice which is right for me. Simple but have no plans to upgrade as I don't know what it would be.

  8. #8
    Well, My name isn't Schwarz, I don't care for the Roubo design and I'm not a 16th century French woodworker, other than that, the bench is probably fine.

    Schwarz has been banging on about his workbench rules for probably 15 years or so and never once has he asked anyone that i can tell, "what type of woodworking do you do ?". You know, so maybe you could build one for your own needs, crazy right.
    Not everyone needs or wants a bench made from 6" or 8" timbers, no matter how much Schwarz gets excited about it.
    A Roubo or clone is not the "perfect" bench, the perfect bench is different for everyone.

    I just recently saw that the Wood Whisperer is auctioning his Roubo off because it doesn't fit his needs.

    I suggest,
    1. think about your own method of work and needs
    2. size it to your own body and shop
    3. base it on a style you like and can afford
    You have to use it after all.
    Sorry for the rant

  9. #9
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    Have you read any of his books on workbenches? Throughout every one, he talks about finding the style of bench that works for you and I doubt that he would argue with any of your three design principals. Schwarz is primarily a hand tool enthusiast and a result favors a bench that is conducive to that style. I think anyone reading his books would realize that. I know that in his videos and talks, he describes the process of using various bench styles over the years and how the Roubo style works for him.

    If you watch Marc Spagnuolo's (The Wood Whisperer) video, you would have realized that his new bench is based on a Roubo just modified to fit his needs. It's not like he disowned the Roubo style, his new one is somewhat smaller, able to be broken down, and has an electrical outlet and cheaper vises.

    I will grant you that Schwarz can be somewhat doctrinaire in his opposition to tool trays and storage cabinets under the bench top. I figure everyone is allowed to have their own little pet peeves.

  10. #10
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    With moderate terpidation I will dip my toe. I built mine after Chris' first book was publushed, but before the second one came out.

    Specific to the OP question, the exact work bench in the Anarchist Work Bench design book is optimized for the work Chris does and is (my opinion) a good design to look at when coming up with the exact design that will work best for you the reader/ user/ builder.

    Specific to that most recent design I think (my opinion) a fair number of folks are intimidated by the mortise and tenon joints to connect the top to the legs, and also (still my opinion) intimidated by having to flatten the entire bench top with hand planes.

    The most common son of Anarchy bench I see here - and I have been desperately short of free time since March 2019 - is a split top Roubo that allows the two slabs to be run through a lunch box planer and allows the two slabs to be fastened to the undercarriage with lag bolts.

  11. #11
    Everyone is perfectly free to build what they want.
    I try to look, listen, watch and read whatever I can get my hands on before I build a project but at the end of the day, it's my bench. I have my own considerations on design and they don't always align with what the "experts" say. After all, the "experts" are no different than you or I, they build what works for them, I build what works for me. If I did the same type of things Mr. Schwarz does, our design might be similar, though somehow I doubt it.

    To the OP's point, why you don't see many of them.
    I don't know for sure but I think Scott Winners touched on a few of the major points. Building a Roubo style bench is a pretty big undertaking for many. The size and weight of the lumber alone is intimidating for some. The price may scare off others.
    As I was attempting to point out, these benches are simply not for everyone. My example of the Wood Whispers is just that, an example of someone who built a large Roubo and later realized it was not a good fit for what he does. I can only guess there are others who have come to the same realization.
    Mr. Schwarz, regardless of your opinion, has been chasing his perfect bench for 20+ years and may not have found it yet. Most woodworkers don't have the luxury of building a new bench every couple of years or when he updates his design. Maybe that's why we don't see many of the new ones.
    So, if at the end of the day, if he would agree with my design principles, I'll go my own way.
    JMO

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Weber View Post
    [edited]
    Schwarz has been banging on about his workbench rules for probably 15 years or so and never once has he asked anyone that i can tell, "what type of woodworking do you do ?". You know, so maybe you could build one for your own needs, crazy right.
    From Chapter IV (page 33) of the Anarchist Workbench:


    But before we start comparing one bench design to another, itís a
    good time to think about what type of woodworker you are and what
    kind of woodworker you hope to be.
    Because that little bit of dimestore
    psychology can help you make some important decisions.
    [jump]
    So as you choose the form of workbench you want to build or buy,
    consider the tradition your work falls into. This will help you narrow
    your choices and perhaps avoid building three wrong benches before
    you get it right.
    (bolding and underlining is mine)

    Looks like he does cover building one's own bench for the needs of an individual's pursuits.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  13. #13
    I stand corrected, thank you

    I have to say that the end of the paragraph is pretty funny considering the source

    "This will help you narrow your choices and perhaps avoid building three wrong benches before
    you get it right."

  14. #14
    I don't think Schwarz kept building benches because he never found one he could enjoy using. He has previously referenced a number of benches he likes. He just finds benches interesting so he keeps building them. And given his occupation, it helps pay the bills - so there's some good incentive there.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
    I don't think Schwarz kept building benches because he never found one he could enjoy using. He has previously referenced a number of benches he likes. He just finds benches interesting so he keeps building them. And given his occupation, it helps pay the bills - so there's some good incentive there.

    Yes, no doubt, the same goes for his tool chests.
    It's just that we're all not in that same boat.

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