Roman Workbench Build-Along


Inspired by Chris Schwarz’s article in Issue Two “Decoding the Roman Workbench”, Mike and I have decided to build our own Roman (i.e. staked) benches. I’ve been doubly curious about this form because Jonathan Fisher’s bench of this type survives in his house (now a museum) and I’ve really wanted to get some time working at one before finishing off my book on him this winter.

The week of February 20th, Mike and I will each be building a bench. I will be basing mine largely on Fisher’s bench, which is a 12.5” wide by 7’ long rough-sawn board with four riven and hatcheted legs. His is a little less than 2” thick but the plank I have set aside is a bit thicker than that. This plank is special to me because it was lodged in the collar ties of the 200 year old Cape Cod house that my wife and I are in the early stages of restoring. The plank is rough sawn with a few small hatchet marks scattered around and has even sawmill tally marks on one side. Since this plank has been in an attic for about 200 years, I think it’s pretty well dry by now. That leads me to Mike’s bench….

We don’t have a plank picked out for Mike’s bench yet. Based on Chris’s experiments with green bench building, we are going to be building that one with pretty fresh wood. We are fascinated with this high-moisture-content bench building idea. We have both done this when building benches for our boys. All settled out just fine on both of those so we are going to give it a go on Mike’s bench. 

Wanna build your own Roman bench along with us?  We’re going to be building these the week of Monday, February 20th and blogging along the way. We thought it would be fun to open it up for others to join in on the build. Don’t have a thick plank set aside? It’s not necessary. Just go pick up a 2 x 12 at your home center. It’s really nothing more than a plank with four legs anyway. The wooden pegs for workholding don’t care if the top is only 1.5”.

We’ll be posting on the progress during our build and sharing our experiments using the benches.

So… who’s in? In the meantime, read up on Chris’s working methods and study the plans he drew in his article in Issue Two. Put this build on your calendars. We look forward to building with you all!

 - Joshua


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