In October 2011 my uncle and I headed down to Old Salem one Monday afternoon to go see the workbenches they have in storage. Christopher Schwarz had visited a few months before and written a blog post about the benches there; I could not just take his word for how great they were, I had to see them in person. The museum is closed on Mondays and my friend Chet Tomlinson, who is an interpreter there, came in on his day off to show us around. At the time I was building a Roubo workbench and was really curious to see the benches in there collection. I took lots of photos of the workbenches (and dozens of other things!), the conversation was great, and the three hours we were there flew by in what seemed like five minutes.
In the days after the trip I looked thru the pictures I had taken many times and kept coming back to the photos of the portable workbench. A few weeks later I went back to Salem, poor Chet came in on his day off again so I could get some measurements of the portable bench. After the Roubo bench was complete the first project I used it for was to build the portable Moravian bench and wrote about the build on WK Fine Tools. A year or so later we started doing a class at the Woodwright’s School on building the bench. Another year later I filmed the video on building the bench with Joshua Farnsworth.
I wish I could say that I had foresight to know that this little workbench would be as popular of a project as it has become, but I did not. The response to the article and the video over the past several years was totally unexpected.
The interest in the bench has also had an effect at Old Salem. Visitors have been asking about the original bench, where it is, if they could see it. The original has been in storage all this time up until a few days ago. The bench is now on display for the foreseeable future at the new joiners shop at the J. Blum House. If you are in the area, even if you don’t have any interest in the bench, Old Salem is well worth a visit.
– Will Myers
9 thoughts on “Original Moravian Workbench on Display”
I’ll have to get up there and see the real thing at some point. Your class was a blast and the bench is a great one to work on. In the picture, that looks like a miter jack sitting in the tool tray – just like the La Forge Royale that Benchcrafted did the bits & pieces for, and Lake Erie did the screw and nut block for. Was it there when you measured the bench? Did you get measurements on it?
Horace, No, sorry, I did not get any measurements for the miter jack.
looks like these benches have little racking longways but how does it fare shortways?
The legs on this bench are splayed out. It’s not racked.
So cool that your video and class are driving interest and visitors to the museum. These smaller local museums need all the love they can get, and the people who work in them – like your friend Chet – always return the love with interest. They are national treasures.
Two years ago, I built a version of this bench for my shop. The following summer, I dragged my teenage boys to Old Salem so I could visit the original. I doubt they were impressed, but I enjoyed it.
Hello, I have a workbench related question. I hope you or Christopher (or Roy Underhill) can answer. This youtube link is a film of an old Swedish gentleman making a pair of clogs in 1923. What is the name of this type of log workbench that he uses? https://youtu.be/wGDkliy1DEU?t=59s
I will make this version of this bench for my office.
Have seen quite alot of your moravian
Work bench articles. Was wondering
What Rip hand saw you and your students are using to cut the large tenon cheeks with i.p. ppi/tpi set etc
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