Tuesday, December 04, 2018

If You Haven't Noticed

I'm a fanboy of the Moravian style workbench with a Lake Erie Toolworks vise screw.

Several years ago I started searching for a useable portable workbench.  With true retirement, none of this silly semi-retirement of the last twelve years where it has been short on the retirement and long on the semi. Over this period I've worked more than I ever did before but that is another story.

I knew I needed something to keep me from boredom while driving MsBubba around the country. I figured a portable workbench would be the real deal. Sounds easy, just make or buy something that is light, will fit into or break down easily to fit into the bins of the motorhome. Done deal, not so fast diesel breath.

Every design I came up with to build or buy all had a "yes but" factor. It seems with every workbench you could have some of the needed small footprint for transportation, light components, ease of assembly and disassembly, and a strong solid workbench. You could have two or three of the needed factors but never all four.

I toyed with the idea for several years and always ran into yes but until I stumbled across Will Myers' video building a Moravian style workbench. I could see at first viewing that the Moravian bench would satisfy the first three criteria with no problem and should do an ok job with the fourth. What I didn't realize was just how good a job it would do with the fourth factor of being a strong, solid workbench.

After viewing Will's video I build my first Moravian bench out of Home Depot DF and took it on our annual PNW trip. It worked a treat so much so I decided to build another this time with a Poplar base and a Beech slab and to replace my sharpening bench with the proof of concept Moravian bench.

Pretty much the same story, the second bench worked even better than the first. It was such a nice to work on bench I moved an older Roubo bench out of the secondary bench position and replaced it with the Moravian. The little bench worked so well and was such a pleasure to use I found myself doing at least 70% of my work on it instead of my massive French/English primary bench.

Nothing left to do but build a third Moravian. This time forgetting portably but building a bench with the mass and size needed for a shop bench. I completed that bench yesterday and in the little I've worked on it it does not disappoint.

After working on and building  several Moravian style benches as well as working on and building several Roubo style benches I can say with confidence the Moravian has every benefit of the French bench with non of the drawbacks. It uses less wood for the same sized bench, while lighter the finished bench is just as solid, the joinery is easier and more tolerant, and most important it can be broken down to move and/or modify as needed. The French bench once build is almost impossible to move and can be very difficult to modify.

As I said at the beginning I'm a fanboy. If you are thinking about building a bench, not just a portable bench but any bench, you should check out Will's video.



  1. It appears the slab and base are the same width. Will the toolwell hang off the back?

  2. Marshal,

    Bad photo perspective. The tool tray is about 250 mm wide and hangs over the back side of the base by about 30mm. The way the tool tray is attached it could be wider but then the bench approaches being too wide. Currently the slab and tool tray combined are about 710mm wide (~26", if I did my math correctly), that approaches my limit for width.

    I'm cleaning up the joinery and putting some oil on the base and slab today. In a couple of hours I'll put the bench back together, break down and move the portable bench to the back of the truck getting it ready to take to Houston over the holidays. That will open up the shop and maybe I can get some better photos.