One of my peculiarities is that I try to complete the writing for a book before the close of the calendar year. I believe I’ve been doing this ever since writing “Campaign Furniture.” Maybe longer.
This year is no different. I’ve just completed (yay!) the first draft of “Ingenious Mechanicks: Early Workbenches & Workholding” and am tying up loose ends before I design the book. This week has been about making the construction drawings and reviewing the manuscript for accuracy and poop jokes.
I’m also excited that Suzanne “Saucy Indexer” Ellison is planning on contributing a chapter to this book that ties the workbenches we discovered with their geography and current events during their construction.
I’d also like to say something about this book that will have to be repeated at least 71 times.
This book is not an attempt to get you to burn down your European bench. It’s not trying to make you feel guilty about owning a tail vise. Or having a tool tray. Instead, the goal of this book (and all my books) is to try to expand the world of ideas when it comes to workholding and bench design.
My only true criticism of the ubiquitous European workbench is that it was a virtual monoculture for most of the 20th century. And the reason it became the dominant workbench design is because it is a good design. And it is suited to mass-manufacturing.
The benches and ideas in “Ingenious Mechanicks” seek only to show you what your long-dead ancestors used to build fine furniture for 1,500 years before the advent of the modern bench. These ideas can be adapted to the bench in your shop. They can help you transform a picnic table into a workbench while you are on vacation. Or they can help a poor college student build furniture without a single vise. But mostly, I hope this book will open your eyes to the devilishly clever ways you can make a stick of wood behave.
The research for this book took me all over Europe. And Suzanne spent untold hours in the digital archives of museums all over the world, including China and the countries in the long-neglected South American continent.
We are so close. And my writing cervix is fully dilated. (Um, but it might not be working properly based on that last sentence.) So grab my hand and start breathing in the following pattern (he-he-hoo, he-he-hoo). Nope, definitely not working.
— Christopher Schwarz