Scythe Beats Hammer Every Time


Jeff Burks turned up this fantastic image from the 1850 book “Bilder des Todes oder Todtentanz für alle Stände” (“Images of death or the Dance of Death for all classes”) illustrated by Johann Gottfried Flegel and written by Carl Merkel.

See the complete book here.

In August we are hosting a coffin-building party for a few friends (it’s part of the research for “Furniture of Necessity”). I am sure that at some point during the weekend we’ll be re-enacting this image.

— Christopher Schwarz

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15 Responses to Scythe Beats Hammer Every Time

  1. Jim Maher says:

    I hope you’re not including a coffin as one of the projects in FoN?

  2. jonathanszczepanski says:

    I guess Furniture of Necessity will cover everything from cradle to grave.

  3. karlfife says:

    The caption:
    “das Haus das du gezimmert hast, lass sehen ob es für dich wohl paßt”

    Maintaining meaning, rhyme, cadence, I would translate it thusly:
    “The room you’ve built of wooden bits; Let’s just see how well it fits!”

    A literal translation would be:
    “The domicile that you’ve carpentered, let’s see if it fits you well!”


  4. tsstahl says:

    “hosting a coffin-building party ”


    A casket is on my project list! Though I’m not ready to start building or using it yet. 🙂

  5. stryder762 says:

    The handwerker is being “put down” because the legs of his workbench aren’t flush with the top.

  6. calebjamesplanemaker says:

    I have always wanted to build a coffin. Don’t ask me why.


  7. bloksav says:

    The holders for the lifts look scary.

  8. Greg Betit says:

    🙂 You will be needing a bench something like mine at your party, then. It came from an undertaker’s establishment in Stratford, VT. 13′ long, 6.5″ thick maple top. Almost long enough to lay out the customer on one end, whilst making the coffin on the other. greg

  9. If you want some music to liven the party, may I suggest Florence + the Machine: My Boy Builds Coffins?

  10. toolnut says:

    Will it have its own DEADicated chapter?

  11. Bob Jones says:

    My in laws already think I’m silly for building furniture. Imagine their reaction if I were to build a coffin! 🙂

  12. atari76 says:

    I’m reminded of a Northern Exposure episode when Ruth Anne received a grave plot as a birthday gift from a friend. She accepted with pleasure and danced on her grave, literally. Perhaps as woodworkers, we should build with pride our own coffins. Save our family $5000.

  13. Once stayed in a B&B where the owner had a beautiful old oak coffin, hand made and hand carved from the 19th century that she had turned upright and converted into a liquor cabinet. It’s where she kept her “spirits”. (her joke, don’t hit me)

    It was very beautiful and very cool. She did have to secure it to the wall since it wasn’t quite designed to stand upright. Her story of getting it home from the estate sale (guess the survivors went another route) is hilarious. At one point she’s pulled up to a stoplight with the coffin hanging out the back of her station wagon, and is explaining to the driver next to her that she’s “taking my late husband out for a drive.”

    Sounds like a very cool party.

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