While picking up some work from Steamwhistle Letterpress, the owner, Brian Stuparyk, said he had a workbench to show me.
Brian’s letterpress shop is where all manner of interesting mechanisms end up, including printing presses, woodworking machines and machinist tools. Recently he received a load of woodworking equipment, much of it barely used.
One of the gems was a vintage Danish Levard workbench that looks like it had never been used. Brian said he found only one small sawcut and a single blotch of glue.
It’s the first time I ever had time to examine a Levard in detail. While being extremely well made (details to follow), I was surprised how lightweight it was. I know I’m biased toward massive French benches, but this seemed like a delicate flower.
So now for the good stuff. First take a look at the jaws for the end vise. The top corners of the benchtop and jaw are inlaid with boxwood, like a moulding plane. It’s an interesting detail. That area of a vise can see significant abuse, but I’d never considered adding boxwood to the jaws.
Also interesting: the underside of the benchtop. Like many European workbenches, the core of the benchtop is fairly thin and banded by thicker pieces. This saves on wood, but it reduces the bench’s overall weight and makes clamping things to the benchtop an occasional pain.
What really interested me was the way they had made the thick dog blocks that were glued to the thin core. To save material, the dogs are fully enclosed on only one side. I can’t think of any disadvantage to their approach.
The vise screws were all well-machined and moved smoothly, like someone cared. Also nice: The steel dogs (actually they were more puppy-sized), were well-made with nicely chamfered corners.
All in all the craftsmanship was excellent. I just think it could use a lot more mass.
— Christopher Schwarz