Horses for Courses; Benches for Trenches


This morning at 11:48, I finished tuning the tail vise for the 1505 Holy Roman workbench and then John walked through the door of the storefront. His task: Help me build a rolling book display for Woodworking in America.

So after a month of being constructed using mostly traditional handwork, the first job for the 1505 workbench was to be a sanding station so we could process a ton of Dragonply for the shelves.

I don’t give this ironic situation a second thought. Once I complete a piece, I set it out into the wild without any emotional attachment about how it should be used. If I’ve done my job, the piece will survive the ordeal (i.e. children’s toy chests) and look better for the ordeal.

For me, furniture is like the Velveteen Rabbit:

“It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

— The Skin Horse in “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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15 Responses to Horses for Courses; Benches for Trenches

  1. I’d make it out of Baltic birch plywood with micro-adjustable shelves. I would definitely throw a homemade incremental positioner on there somewhere. Maybe even a chunk of t-track or two. And when I was done with the workbench, I’d start on the shelving unit.


  2. meanmna says:

    Interesting design. Interested in how you assemble that. I understand plywood and pocket screws, but I am interested to see how it the pieces come together.


  3. richmondp says:

    When you’re finished sanding, check this out, if you haven’t already: an accurate research quality scan, in 3D, of a carpenter’s “Oak Grooving Plane” recovered from the wreck of the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s ill fated flagship. Just the plane to go with your bench (?)


  4. tpier says:

    I like the wheels, that way instead of stealing just one book someone can steal them all at once.


  5. error4 says:

    what’s dragonply?


  6. Will Myers says:

    No thoughts on the book case, truly epic quote though.


  7. TrevorML says:

    The Velveteen Rabbit is a long standing classic… bought it before we ever had kids and my better half cried when reading it on the long drive home… the quote sums it gallup totally!

    thanks for the reminder Chris

    cheers from Oz


  8. Thank you for your quotation from the Velvetine Rabbit.I admire your applying it to our furniture. To further extend the message, I too am a Velvetine Rabbit. I am very comfortable.


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