The Bench.—The tool most frequently used is the bench, and of this many varieties or patterns exist. Whatever pattern is adopted, however, the embodiment of these common principles must be ensured, if the maximum of utility is to be obtained :—
(a) It must be rigid and stable, by being suitably and securely framed, put together, and fixed.
(b) It must be level on the top of the planing board, which should not be less than 10″ broad.
(c) It must be of such a height as best suits the work and the height of the worker—30″ or 31″ being high enough.
(d) Details of construction must ensure that natural shrinkage and wear shall limit its usefulness to as small a degree as possible.
(e) It should have a clearance all round of at least 2½ or 3 feet.
For general school use, one of the most suitable, and at the same time most economical in point of cost and of space occupied, is of Swedish make and design. The double form of this is intended to accommodate two pupils—one at either end diagonally opposite.
This bench is made in lengths of 4 feet and 6 feet, by 2′ 2″ inches broad, by 2′ 7″ high. The planing board on either side of the top is of pine about 10″ broad, thus leaving between each pair of pupils a long shallow well in which the tools most commonly in use may be laid while work is in progress. These boards are haunch-tenoned through hard-wood ends—usually birch—and have oblique through mortises at regular intervals along their top surface, near the left-hand side of the worker. Into any of these may be fitted an iron spring bench peg, which forms a stop for the wood which is being planed.
Unlike the artisan’s ordinary form, this bench has the vice on the end—called a tail vice. The hard-wood end of the bench forms the fixed jaw; and a movable jaw, operated by a screw, opens from or closes up to this. The parallelism of the movable jaw is ensured by having two rectangular bearers mortised through it, and running in grooves or boxes on the under side of the planing board. It has, further, a mortise to carry a spring peg, between which and the other already mentioned stuff may be firmly held.
The screw, though commonly of wood, may be had in iron with a V or square thread. A bench of this kind, it will be obvious, besides fulfilling its primary function, may be used to discharge the duties of a cramp when jointing is undertaken.
The Greenock Cabinetmaking Company, Limited, make a slightly more expensive bench, which combines the conveniences of the foregoing with others of its own, notably greater breadth, weight, and stability, with tool lockers for each student—the increased cost of which would fall to be deducted from that of the wall racks otherwise necessary.
The tail vices, ends, and front pieces of this bench are of maple, and its size is 4′ 6″ x 2′ 6″ x 2′ 6″. Others, again, more costly, are fitted with metal instantaneous grip side vices only, and have a single fixed iron or wooden stop near the end.
No movable tool racks should be placed on the tops of the benches, if these in the slightest way impede the sweep of the teacher’s eye over his class. In any case, they are of doubtful utility.
Whatever form of bench is used, the alpha of manual instruction in wood should be an object lesson on its parts and their various functions, reasons being educed to justify the use of different joints and details of construction.
Timber and tools – 1900
– Jeff Burks