For those readers who are squeamish or easily offended, stop reading now.
For the rest of you, here is a little nugget of workbench history unearthed by Jeff Burks. It was published in the April 5, 1903, edition of the French illustrated newspaper Le Petit Parisien. Headlined: “Un étrange suicide,” it detailed the odd suicide of the joiner who ended his life with the help of his workbench.
Below is Jeff’s quick translation of the text. You can read it in the original French here.
A Strange Suicide
This is obviously a particular case of madness, that of the strange suicide of this joiner from Sainte-Ménehould, with whom all the press is occupied. Mr. Lemaître, the joiner in question, was sick for a long time; He was, in addition, suffering from paranoia; his rationale seemed very shaken.
Tired of suffering, he resolved to finish his own existence. But he did not use, like so many others, poison, the revolver or the rope; He wanted to be guillotined. He very patiently sharpened a spade, so it would be keen as a razor; he tied it to his joinery workbench, which had been loaded quite heavily with wood; then, using a piece of wood as a brace, he lifted his bench to 60 centimeters in height and spread himself on the ground so that, by removing the piece of wood, the spade would strike his neck.
These tragic preparations had taken a fairly long time. With a chisel, Mr. Lemaître knocked out the brace that was holding the workbench and the spade descended suddenly, working as a guillotine blade. Indeed, the carotid artery was severed and the head weakly attached to the body. The doctor who was called found him dead.
— Christopher Schwarz