I think the heart of any shop is the work bench, a belief that I have had for many years. It's the place where every project comes to life, where the craftsman comes alive with in what ever they are building.
Being in a world of social media I have noticed the popularity the subject of work benches has become. Every article and video trying to guide you in what bench to build. The problem for someone researching the subject is the amount of information out there that they have to sift through. Then who do you listen to ? If Chris Schwarz is talking about work benches you can rest assured it is good sound advise. But you have to look at what someone has done to know if you should listen to what they have to say. I would listen to Tommy MacDonald talk about drawer construction all day long before I would spending five minutes listening to the guy with the fancy blue jig talk about the same subject.
I think a work bench is a personal thing that can only be decided on by the person using it, and only after years of developing their craft can they truly know what does or doesn't work for them. If you are a person who creates hand cut joinery maybe a moxon vise is something you should think about, removing the need to build a bench that may or may not work for you. Especially if all your after is a way to secure stock while cutting dovetails.
My best advise is to take in as much good information as you can find. Then look at established woodworkers whos styles of work you are influenced by and see what they are using, committing yourself to understanding why they use what they use. But most important don't build a bench just yet, get a couple of saw horses and put a few boards across the top and start woodworking. Because only after you progress in your craft and gain some knowledge can you make an honest, informed and educated decision on what will or will not work for you.
- Tommy P