Recently there has been a surge of information and articles on the simplest ( and often forgotten) of all tools, the workbench. So much in fact that every issue of every magazine I have gotten in the past few months has some sort of plan, or re-vamped design, or some lost workbench configuration from the Jurassic period.
Article after article,and blog after blog after blog about workbench this, or workbench that. It is enough to make one try to mortise and tenon their left leg to the right one in hopes that the excruciating pain would be enough of a distraction from workbench overload AAAARRRGGGHH!
All of the "experts" are soapbox happy these days telling us that if you don't have one you can't perform this operation, or that joint, in an effort to convince us that it is "The most important tool in your shop" And all I can say to that is..............They're right!!!
It took an overload of workbench mania for me to discover that what I called a"workbench" was nothing more than a closet door on saw horses. There are so many things wrong with that statement that i don't even know where to start. So let's start with this.
Woodworking broken down to it's most basic form requires one action first and foremost "The ability to securely hold your workpiece". The "only"and I mean "only" way to do this is with a workbench. About a year ago I decided that it was time to get a serious surface to do my projects on. So I researched all sorts of designs from every woodworking era I could and found that it was all in the vises. Front vises, and tail vises; leg vises; face vises and some really crazy vises.
Truth is you should decide on what type of bench you need based on the type of work you do, and which vise or vises setup will work the best for you! I do a lot of cabinetry personally, so I settled on a French - German hybrid Holzapfel workbench (May the Schwarz be with you!) which is centered around what the vises can do for you and not what the work surface itself is capable of .
So do a lot of research on this important subject and make your decision based on "your" needs because I will tell you that my work since introducing a workbench to my tool collection is much better and one hundred percent more efficient and productive. And by the way a really good way to practice a wide range of woodworking techniques is to build it yourself. I did, and already looking forward to building another one, because who says you can't have two benches or three....or four.......