Review Show No. 5 – Build an 18th Century Workbench

September 28, 2011

Title: Build an 18th Century Workbench
Run Time: 38 Minutes
Production Date: 2010
Produced By: Popular Woodworking
Price: $24.99 US
Marc’s Score: 3.8 Grape Sodas out of 5
Matt”s Score: 3.7 Grape Sodas out of 5

From the Back of the Case:

“One of the most important workbench plans ever published appeared in A.J. Roubo’s 18th-century masterwork “L’Art Du Menuisier” (The Art of the Craftsman). Roubo’s simple and hulking workbench offers everything that the modern woodworker needs in a bench, whether you use hand tools, power tools or both. Roubo’s bench is simpler than almost every other design out there — so it’s easy to build – yet it excels at all of the workholding tasks in a woodshop. In this DVD, Christopher Schwarz shows you how to build the Roubo workbench using only hand tools (though you can use power tools if you wish). Schwarz, the author of Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use (Popular Woodworking Books) also shares his insights into this influential workbench form, which he has been using exclusively since 2005.”

Our Thoughts:

This DVD delivers on its promise, plain and simple. With the plans and the video content, you should have all the info you need to build an 18th century Roubo-style workbench. That is if you plan on making it 100% with hand tools. The video states this very clearly but I found myself longing for the Schwarz’s preferred power tool methods as well. After all, making massive deep mortise and tenon joints is going to be tricky, regardless of whether your tools are electrical or “alcohol-powered”.

The strong focus on hand tools and the fairly short length of the video ultimately means that you’ll need to come into this with a fairly strong working knowledge of various saws, chisels and planes. You’ll also need to have a fairly well-equipped shop. As a woodworker who has what I would call a “decent” set of hand tools, I saw numerous things I would need to acquire if I were to build this bench using hand tools alone.

In true Schwarz style, the DVD offers a nice mix of woodworking history and techniques. Something I love about Chris’s teaching style is that he not only shows you what to do, but why. He even goes so far as to explain why Roubo may have made the choices he made when designing this bench. You walk away with a great sense of history and the knowledge that this design truly stood the test of time. You’ll also walk away wanting a little bit more.

The Breakdown:

Entertainment Value: Marc 3/5 | Matt 4/5
Production Quality: Marc 3/5 | Matt 2/5
Information Quality: Marc 4/5 | Matt 4.5/5
Overall Value: Marc 4/5 | Matt 4/5
Keeps Its Promise: Marc 4.5/5 | Matt 4/5
Final Score: Marc 3.8/5 | Matt 3.7/5

To listen to the entire show CLICK HERE

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