Alert for Workbench Nerds


Visit my blog at Popular Woodworking Magazine here for a full-resolution version of the full plate from the above detail. And it’s not a discussion on man-boobs. Promise. (Look at those! Wow.) Maybe that’s not a man?

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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21 Responses to Alert for Workbench Nerds

  1. Roger Hylr says:

    “Man boobs”… or a woman sweeping up woodworking debris???

  2. says:

    Nerd am I ? whatever ….off center to right on top. I would elaborate but I must rush to to retrieve my jigs before the garbage man gets here…later

  3. nealm44 says:

    I am deeply impressed by the person (in the larger illustration) standing atop the bench and swinging what appears to be an adze with an air of abandon. The (possibly) female customer is probably a customer giving detailed advice on the construction of the chest being made for her whilst she tidies up the bench

  4. timothyc72 says:

    The earliest account of the woodworking diva?

  5. jkvernier says:

    Very cool. Having spent grad school staring at early Italian Renaissance art, my gut tells me this is c. 1400, not 1300 as the French book says (according to your PopWood post). Even if it’s 1425, it’s still the earliest woodworking scene involving screw vises I’ve ever seen.

  6. Niels Cosman says:

    Josie the Jointer, The great great great great great great great great great grandmother of Rosie the Riveter.

  7. KampWood says:

    This also says something about workbench hight. They only go up to their knees so whoes up for making a 4′ x10′ that’s 24″ high?

  8. Willard Anderson says:

    Chris: do you have a high res image of the 4 housewrights standing in a a field with their tool boxes open? Jeff posted that some years (?) ago and the pic has stuck with me.

  9. That’s one heck of a Moxon

  10. shelbuh says:

    To the earlier posts about workbench height. Perspective in art isn’t really codified until the 1400’s with Brunelleschi… and this drawing really doesn’t show much understanding of perspective. There’s some axonometric-like drawing in it (workbenches), but I wouldn’t take any bets on the scale being perspectively correct from front-to-back in this.

  11. gblogswild says:

    What’s with the guy and what looks like a hewing axe? He looks like he’s standing on the board doing one (swear word) of a roughing job.

    The super-long vises are pretty cool. I’ll stick with my viseless Nicholson style for the time being, but that is way sweet.

  12. Jeff Faulk says:

    It strikes me that it would not be particularly difficult to retrofit an aproned bench for the occasional use of such features. Simply make a screw that can go through the apron (make it like a very large bolt, perhaps, or with a cross-bar piercing the screw fixed between braces on the back of the apron), a large handled nut, and a parallel bar that also goes through the apron. Finally, take a board of the correct dimensions and pierce it as necessary. It wouldn’t take much work and you would only have a couple of extra holes in your bench apron.

  13. Sharon says:

    More than likely that photo is just showing fabric pulled up out of a belt and sagging and not boobs. T-tunics (basically dresses) were pretty common clothing for the working classes (men and women) in the 1300s and they’d cinch them up with belts to keep them out of the way. If you do a lot of reaching, the fabric invariably is pulled upwards and then would sag if you don’t reach down and yank the hemline back down.

  14. Dean in Des Moines says:

    Am I the only one wondering at that block plane?

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