A Workbench Cleat from 1826


Check out the right leg of the workbench in this 1826 plate that Jeff Burks dug up from “Les Amusemens de la Campagne” (Vol. 3) by M.A. Paulin Desormeaux. Take a look at Fig. B there. It’s a small cleat used for edge-jointing.

Here’s Jeff’s translated text:

Fig 1. of the plate represents the workbench. A is the head of a screw clamping a strong board against the front leg forming a vise; when you want to work on a board, you take it from one end in this vise, and the other end is placed on the small cleat B same figure. And if need be is maintained with the help of a holdfast placed in hole C.

I’ve not seen a cleat exactly like this one before. But I have seen cleats that retract below the workbench’s top or are removable. Woodworker Yoav Liberman has a metal removable one on his bench that is made from some bed hardware I believe.

Here is an historical example, but it’s located up by the face vise.

Oh, and check out the cool fireworks displays you can build below. Danger on a stick.

— Christopher Schwarz


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2 Responses to A Workbench Cleat from 1826

  1. steveschafer says:

    When I was in northern Peru in 2014, there was a week-long fiesta going on, so every town we stayed in had some kind of evening entertainment (usually involving a big sound stage and gargantuan loudspeakers, and musicians that were perhaps not quite ready for Peru’s Got Talent). Naturally, the hotels we used were right on the town square, so we received the total immersion experience. One town (I forget which one; they’ve all kind of run together in my brain) put together a big fireworks display in the square, with scaffolding up to maybe 40 ft tall, built entirely out of bamboo poles and string. The above illustrations are very reminiscent of what the scene was like. During the actual fireworks display, there was a squadron of people running around the square, carrying 2-litre soda bottles filled with water, putting out all of the little fires from the falling embers.


  2. Cleat “B” doesn’t look very helpful to me. Nor the holdfast at “C”. it only works for long wide boards unless another board is added. to the game. The deadman travels and does the job but frustrates under bench access. I still use a tapered machinist’s alignment pin jammed in holes along the front edge of the bench or the face of a deeper apron to support the workpiece’s free end. You can use a fat awl instead. But then recently a bench was shown with the notched board holdfasted down to the top of the bench, hung over the front edge and jammed up against the free end of the workpiece. Between these two options I find other solutions unnecessary. Now mind you I’m limited to simple post and rung chair joinery. The single bench screw (crochet), double bench screw, holdfasts, bench hook and notched board are my holding devises and more than sufficient. I promise to retire from further discussion of the issue.


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