Felebien’s joiner’s bench

joiner's bench, Felebien
joiner's bench, Felebien

There will be more to come on bench hooks; but in the meantime, I realized that I have another 17th-century engraving showing a workbench. Here is the joiner’s bench from Andres Felebien’s 1676 book Des Principes de L’Architecture. Some readers will know this work, but it is not as commonly cited as Moxon, thus I thought worth a look.  Note the bench hook.

[the image is a little curled, the page was not flat enough. Folks who own these old books get a little snippy when you crack the spine to get a better photograph…Alexander shot this from a 2nd edition, 1690.]

4 thoughts on “Felebien’s joiner’s bench

  1. Peter:Thanks for reminding me of the Felibien bench. This is an excellent illustration compared to Moxon and Holme. It is quite clear that the bench hook’s teeth protrude outside the perimeter of the supporting block. This allows the teeth to be raised to various heights above the bench-a benefit. However when not in use, the block must be knocked up and out to clear the bench. A fine idea but when thing get busy…..
    Wood is wonderful!

  2. Peter, in the full Felebian plate there is a two-screw press on the wall(presses de bois). Do you think Moxon was using felebian as a reference? His plates look very similar to Felebian’s. I have a photocopy of the 1649 third edition. Just curious.

  3. Steve, thanks for the notes.

    The plow plane is often cited as the evidence that Moxon used Felebien’s plates as reference. The dates are close, 1676 for Felebien, 1678 I think for the beginning of Moxon, 1683 for his first full edition.

    Felebien had a better engraver.

  4. It seems clear that Moxon’s engraver copied Felibien. Though Felibien’s engravings are well done, the bench’s front stiles are set back under the bench top. I have thought that the holes in the front stiles are for holdfasts to support boards for edge planing. But, this would not be possible if the front stiles are set back as illustrated. Considering the general accuracy of Felibien’s engravings, there is a possible explanation. Felibien’s text is about architectural woodwoking such as doors and large paneling. Planing long stock is necessary. Peter: It migh be helpful to publish the entire plate including the long pinned and screwed clamping boards shown on the wall behind the bench. It is possible that these clamps are long enough to span the front stiles of the bench. Secured by hold fasts they could be used as vices to hold long stock for planing and mortising.

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