New in Store: Letterpress ‘Roman Workbenches’

rw_mockupYou can now place a pre-publication order for the letterpress version of “Roman Workbenches” in our store via this link. The book will ship in late March or early April 2017.

There are only 500 copies available. The cost for U.S. customers is $87. This product is available for international shipping with an upcharge (the book and shipping is $115. Note that this international price applies to Canadian customers too because this book will ship from the U.S.). Everyone who places an order will receive an instant download of a pdf of the book. You also can purchase the pdf alone for $15.

The first workbenches we know of were built by the Greco-Romans, and these benches were decidedly different than modern benches. Many are low – about knee-high – have no stretchers between the legs and use a series of pegs or nails for workholding.

“Roman Workbenches” explores this early form using paintings, engravings, writings and a surviving example from a Roman fort in Saalburg. I built a low Roman bench for the book and spent much of 2016 decoding its workholding with some surprising findings.


In addition, I built a taller bench from the Holy Roman Empire that wedded a typical Roman workbench undercarriage with the first-known combination of a tail vise and face vise. The tail vise and face vise are unlike modern vises and offer some surprising advantages.

The book tells the sometimes twisting and personal tale about researching these benches, sorting out inaccurate information and learning to use the benches without instructions from long-dead Roman woodworkers or German writers.

The book is decidedly PG-13 as it deals with some sexual matter – thanks to the Romans – swordplay, male genitals, urination and carnal affections for a bull.

The 6” x 9” book is 64 pages, hardbound and covered in cotton cloth. Like all Lost Art Press books, it is produced entirely in the United States. “Roman Workbenches” is being printed letterpress by Steam Whistle Letterpress in Newport, Ky., and being bound by Acme Binding in Massachusetts.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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14 Responses to New in Store: Letterpress ‘Roman Workbenches’

  1. cdcook82 says:

    Chris, congratulations on this project. It combines three of my passions: woodworking, printing, and Roman history (and uses my absolute favorite font: Caslon). I can’t wait to get this in my hands. Thanks for keeping craftsmanship alive!

  2. A book, printed old school, on history and woodworking, *with* bawdy content?

    HAHA! Yes please!

  3. nrhiller says:

    Mirabile visu! What a fabulous bit of production, and how fun!

  4. Josh says:

    Nobody but Lost Art Press would be crazy enough to do this project, in this way. And I mean that as the highest compliment. I ordered my copy as quickly as I could and can’t wait to have it in my hands. Thanks, Chris and John and Co., for making the books that you would want made, and I hope that the run sells out quickly enough to show you that there are plenty of us other crazy people out here who share the same passions and appreciate the gifts you keep bestowing on us.

    • Thanks Josh,

      We greatly appreciate the support of our core customers – the early adopters. These men and women give us the freedom to do stuff that would seem (to a modern corporation) business suicide.

  5. John Hippe says:

    Awesome! I just purchased my copy.

  6. nidhogg00 says:

    I just finished reading the PDFs version. Simply put; it’s great stuff! I really appreciated all of the historical anecdotes, they really transform the book from just another woodworkIng text to something that is truly a delight to read. Thanks for putting this together.


  7. just placed my order. I’m really looking forward to getting this book.

  8. Hoffman is quite the artist. The line drawings are great.

  9. jasonandmaryann says:

    Just purchased the letterpress copy; can hardly wait to receive it. I am now reading through the electronic version that came with the purchase. Quick question (as I will be building this bench): Can I use a sawmill cut slab (green) to make the bench? If so, what do I need to know in relation to it’s kiln dried version you describe in the book?

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