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Final Day of the Roman Workbench Build

Today, Mike and I got the benches done and spent a good amount of time exploring their use. First, we had to cut those protruding tenons flush. Since I broke my flush cut saw a while back, I opted to use my crosscut saw for the task. I considered getting fancy and shimming up off the benchtop top to prevent the saw’s set from marring the top but decided against it. I’ve always trimmed bigger tenons like these with a regular crosscut and rarely nick the wood in any considerable way. The way I do this is by placing pressure on the back of the saw while carefully starting a kerf. I work around from all sides until the kerf...

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Roman Workbench Build-along Starts Today!

Starting today, Mike and I will be building our Roman workbenches and blogging and posting to Instagram along the way. If you are one of the other folks who will be building along with us, make sure to tag your pictures with #romanbenchbuildalong so that we can follow along your progress. This bench could easily be built in one day but because Mike and I are documenting it (and have other responsibilities) it will be at least a couple days of building followed by a bit of playing around using it. There are a few features and variations that I will be incorporating that Chris didn’t in his low Roman bench so we’ll see what happens with those. This will...

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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...

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VIDEO: Interview With Chris Schwarz About Decoding the Roman Workbench

    In this video, we talked with Chris Schwarz about the fascinating article he has written a  titled “Decoding the Roman Workbench” for Issue Two. His article, which looks at the practical usage of the bench, has been informed by meticulous research in ancient texts, surviving European artifacts, and in-the-shop exploration. As it turns out, this experimental archaeology approach has yielded some compelling discoveries about pre-industrial woodworking. You can order your copy of Issue Two here.  

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Chris Schwarz on Using the Low Roman Workbench: Issue Two Table of Contents

In my mind, one of the most interesting bits of woodworking research to crop up in the last few years has been Chris Schwarz’s journey into “Roman” workbenches. If you’ve been following along at his blog, you’ll remember he built two different variations. One of which is a based on a 16th century plate and is essentially the precursor to the modern workbench. It’s funky looking but pretty familiar in function to modern woodworkers. It’s the other bench that has grabbed my full attention because it is so different to the way we work today. This second workbench he built is based on illustration of ancient Roman workworkers. Besides the fact that it has 8 “staked” legs, it is so...

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