Closing the Book


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

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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7 Responses to Closing the Book

  1. nrhiller says:

    Can’t wait. And a chapter by Saucy will be a bonus.

  2. Your book intrigues me and I wish to subscribe to it’s publication.
    Will we see any previews?

    • Derek Parsonage says:

      “Rare Victorian carpenter’s wooden workbench, circa 1870’s. This heavily worn and distressed piece is full of the character and style much sought after by the retail sector, for use as a novel merchandising table.”
      If you listen carefully, you can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth. What a sad end to a useful life!

  3. Simon Stucki says:

    can’t wait for this one!

  4. Jim Steel says:

    I saw one of these benches in use in Historical Jamestown Virginia. I love this idea, a bench the carpenters broke down, carried across the ocean, set up and started their trade in a new world. I look forward to reading this book!

  5. Jeremiah says:

    That last paragraph worked for me don’t beat yourself up abut it. I think you need some pitocin to hurry this thing along though.

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