Ever since Chris Schwarz began writing about the various uses of the staked (“Roman”) bench, many woodworkers have become interested in ways to bring this style of bench into their work. I have been preaching about the benefits of using it as a mortising stool and as a regular sawbench for a while now, but I also occasionally use it for planing. Although I typically default to my tall bench for this task, I’ve come to believe that setting up your shop with as many of workholding possibilities as possible would be valuable to any hand-tool woodworker.
There’s nothing more frustrating than working in an unwieldy way. Oversized and cumbersome stock is annoying to lug up onto a tall bench. In these cases, I do all the preliminary sawing and some rough planing while sitting on the staked bench. Once it’s broken down to smaller stock, I typically shift higher.
Planing while sitting down does have some advantages. Especially in applying force – you can really muscle into the stock while perched on top of it.
I know this is a hard sell to veteran woodworkers who are used to standing while planing, and I have no argument to persuade them otherwise. I will say, however, that being open-minded and willing to try different things goes a long way in expanding your knowledge of the craft.
Besides, what is there to lose? Drive some sticks into a plank and give it a shot. I promise that it will at least help you see things from another perspective.