A workbench should be heavy, very heavy. So I build a lot of benches with good thick 4” tops and simple but robust bases.
Now a days we tend to call this the French bench, mainly due to recent trends in workbench designs. I don’t think the evolution of workbench designs was clear cut or defined so regionally, but there are without a doubt some features that were favoured only in particular areas. I’ve seen countless workbenches, some very early, that you could easily mistake for the ’French’ design even though this certainly wasn’t their origin. The ‘French’ bench as we know it is, after all, really only one step evolved from the very basic design used by the Romans.
So the French workbench remained simple. It could be massive, it could be petite, but it did always remain simple.
Now, if we nail a couple of deep aprons on the front and back of this ‘simple’ workbench design then what have we got?
The Nicholson – An English Tradition
The English, or Nicholson workbench design is robust, simple and well worth considering if you’re planning to build your own workbench.
The photos shown below are of an English style bench made in oak, although pine tends to be my timber of choice for this bench design.