Chris Schwarz is the former editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine and one of the geniuses behind Woodworking in America. He is considered by most to be the authority on Workbenches and is responsible for the popularization of the Roubo design. His latest book, The Anarchists Toolchest is taking the woodworking community by storm.
You can follow Chris and all his work at LostArtPress.com as well as his blog at Popularwoodworking.com.
Chris mentioned an industrial-strength mobile system in the interview and here’s the link.
- How’s life after Popular Woodworking?
- What intrigued you about the Roubo design?
- What are your thoughts on the split top concept? Any gotchas?
- (Brian Brazil) I’ve recently become a little obsessed with the Holtzapffel bench from Chris’s Workbench Design book. Since he has experience working on both the Holtzapffel and Roubo bench designs, how would he compare the two?
- Hard or soft and why? Primary and secondary woods to save money?
- (Bjorn) I recently got a good amount of quarter sawn old growth Douglas Fir. These are former floor boards. If we assume that money is secondary concern, would you recommend building the workbench top from that wood or is there something better?
- (Chas) Wants to use two species in his bench top. Do you foresee any problems incorporating a different species in places like an end cap, a vise chop, or in the case of the split top Roubo, the dog hole backing strip (in terms of wood movement)?
- What do you think of the Benchcrafted hardware and how does it compare to other options you’ve tried? Any reasonable alternatives?
- (Torch) Any good sources for older quick-release vises?
- (Imaginos) (pretty Benchcrafted specific) The wagon vise on the split top Roubo is perplexing me. It looks like the hardware is either identical or very similar to a slide L block tail vise. It seems that with a sliding block and dog holes in the right spots, I can do everything that the wagon vise can do plus more options for work holding on right end of the bench minus a little bit of support where the block sides out. The recurring theme that stands out in Chris’s book is efficiency and economy of effort, so what’s the downside of the sliding L block tail vise? What’s a wagon vise do that an L block can’t?
- (Skunkeye) You use those huge wooden screws on some of your leg vises. Do you have a preference for coarse wood threads or metal acme threaded rods?
- (Texfire) Does the added height of a Moxon Vice change the equation on bench height? Do he suggest setting a bench low enough for planing and use the Moxon to raise the material for dovetailing and/or power tool usage?
- (Brice_Arnold) I have heard that a bench is dependent upon not only the user but what kind of work they will be doing (hand tools vs power tools/routers). If you can only have one bench and the work you do is a balance of hand and power tools, how should this influence the bench height? Average between high (power tools) and low (hand tools)? Also could you reiterate the rule of thumb for ideal bench height.
- (JeffB1) If my stock permits me to go thicker than 4″, is that recommended?
- (Barron) In your book you indicate that holdfasts don’t work well as the top gets thicker, is there a problem with the holdfast holding if making the top a more than 4″?
- (Bjorn) Do you think a workbench top is best made from a lamination of smaller boards or a couple massive slabs?
- (hhh) Do you have a preferred lamination pattern for a top made from 8/4 stock?
- (Torch) In your books, you have implored people to build as big & sturdy of a bench as they can. If neither cost nor space were an issue, what would be the ideal size?
- (Skunkeye) Preference for square or round dog holes (or both)?
- (Skunkeye) What are your thoughts on bench storage? Should a bench be for work holding only? (Tool trays)
- (Tom Buhl) Full mortise and tenon vs barrel bolt hardware approach. In your book you did not think highly of the barrel bolt approach.
- (Tom Buhl) What are your thoughts on how short a roubo bench could be (practically) and still use the BenchCrafted Tail Vise? My space can handle about 6 feet.
- (Tom Buhl) I need my bench to be mobile.I plan to add a flip down wheel bar as shown on the LVL bench and seen at WIA. For the split top Roubo, is this lunacy or workable given the size/weight?
- (hhh) Do you have an adhesive preference: PVA, epoxy, hide glue?..
- (many people) Do you think it is worthwhile to design the end cap so it can be removed later for easy machine planing or is this lunacy?
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