Suzanne “Saucy Indexer” Ellison was digging around in the digital archives of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and turned up some fantastic images you might enjoy exploring.
The Rijksmuseum provides high-resolution images freely to anyone who creates an account and encourages users to use the images to make T-shirts or some other art form. It’s a surprisingly refreshing approach compared to the locked doors of other museums.
The image at the top of this blog entry is titled “Carpenter points to the drill that he has in his hand, Jan Luyken, bet. Pieter Cornelis van der Arentsz & Sys (II), 1711.” It’s a delightful drawing; the carpenter looks like he’s explaining how his drill works to a television audience.
Some notable details: The workbench has angled legs with only two stretchers. It’s a bit like a modified Roman workbench. I cannot see any vises, but the benchtop is obscured by the subject and his tools. I think it’s clear the benchtop is 38” from the ground, however.
At the carpenter’s feet are more tools: the curious Dutch sabre saw, a hammer with a nice handle and a cross pane, a plane, a box of nails and some other stuff that’s unclear to me.
Flight to Egypt and Joseph as a Carpenter, Wheelwright and Cooper
The second image is a lot like the famous Stent panel in that it was created by someone who was a woodworker, so the details are likely to be more accurate than a drawing or painting.
This panel, circa 1600-1699, has lots to see. In the top left, Joseph is shown at a bench that is almost identical in structure to the first plate in this blog entry. Again, no vises are evident, nor is a planing stop (though there has to be something there). Again, a 38”-high workbench.
Behind him are tools: a bowsaw, bench planes, compass, rabbeting or moulding planes, a brace, miter template, perhaps a second template and a rack of chisels.
Love the hat.
In the carpentry scene below, Joseph has a try square, a level, mallet and a chisel.
In the wheelwright scene and cooperage scenes on the right we get to see a drawknife make an appearance in both.
In the center of the panel we have Joseph holding his basket of tools with his sabre saw over his shoulder.
From The Four Times of Day, John Saenredam, Cornelius Schonaeus, 1675 – 1607
This engraving shows a carpenter crosscutting a board with a sabre saw while he kneels on a a beam. Behind him a woodworker planes what looks like the top of a table (I think that’s a drawer below).
Oh, and that’s Apollo on the cloud.
New Year Postcard from the carpenter’s guild in Haarlem, circa 1600
This image is one I’ve been studying for some time after Jeff Burks first pointed it out to me. It pictures Joseph in his workshop at a 38”-high workbench that clearly is built in the Roman style. And it has what looks like planing stops.
At Joseph’s feet is a sabre saw and a bowsaw. Plus the baby Jesus striking a chalk line with the help of a cherub.
I’ve been studying this plate (and a bunch of others) as a way of sorting out the culture of tool storage – who uses racks, who uses chests etc. That’s a topic for another day.
Suzanne sent me links to many more images, but I have to get my butt into the shop. I’ve got blind dovetails to cut and pine to process for a demonstration next weekend in Alabama.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. All the stuff above about 38″-high workbenches is just a joke to amuse myself. Ignore it.