another workbench illustration

When I stopped in at Baltimore recently to visit Jennie Alexander, I returned a book I had borrowed a year ago, thus creating good credit. So I borrowed two excellent German books on tools. Gunther Heine’s Das Werkzeug des Schreiners und Drechslers and Schadwinkel, Heine & Gerner’s Das Werkzeug des Zimmermanns.

Among the many things I have been copying out of these is this engraving by Heironymus Wierix, the title page to a book concerning the childhood of Christ.

H. Wierix, title page, c, 1600
H. Wierix, title page, c. 1600

Thus, here is yet another image of a  sixteenth-or-seventeenth-century workbench, this time Flemish.  Here the bench hook is clearly evident, but there is no holdfast, nor holes for one. Also, like the Moxon bench & the Felebien bench, the top overhangs the faces of the legs. This has always seemed counter-productive on a bench with holes in the legs for holdfasts. In the Wierix bench it’s less of a problem, but how you use this bench to grab stock against the legs is not immediately clear…

I tried cropping the picture so we could come in on the bench & some of the tools a bit. This is the first illustration I can think of that shows the tools piled/stored on the stretchers of the bench frame. 

Wierix, workbench detail
Wierix, workbench detail

Years ago, Alexander sent me a series of photocopies of the engravings from this set. As I recall, there are several scenes of Christ, Joseph & the angels working various timber projects.

4 thoughts on “another workbench illustration

  1. Peter,
    In the lower right of the engraving (just to the right of the broad hatchet) is something that looks like a type of square with a broad tongue and a curved inner face. Seems like it could sit on a bench steadily to sight for boring holes, etc. Is it indeed a square?

    Also, in the dismantled panel photos in the previous posting, the tenons do not appear to have haunches. Are there then gaps on the outer edges where the grooves exit the stiles? I assume that they were plowing the grooves through with a plow plane since most of the tool inventories listed in the Wrought Covenant include plow planes.


  2. Reply to Dave Fisher: The rail tenons on the Savell, Sr. Wall Cupbord shown partially disassembled in the prior post are indeed haunched. Further as you note, the panel plows in the rails run right through the tenons. The panel plows in the stiles are stopped! This requires a bull nose panel plane or sinking the plow into th stiles between the mortises and complering the plow with chisel or scraper. This at first seemed quite puzzling. It is possible that this extra care was taken to strengthen the door. Paneled cupboard doors may be more carefully constructed in order to withstand the stresses they are subject to. We originally came to call Savell,Sr. “MOB,” standing for “Master Over Builder.”

  3. Dave & Jennie

    yes, Dave, it’s a square. I have a post undeway to discuss it.

    One technical note, the tenons are NOT haunched…the haunch is a section of tenon that fills a groove in the mortised stock. That is never the case in seventeenth-century work. When the groove runs long, (usually half of the time)nothing fills the groove.

    Only one stile is original in the door panel, and yes, its grooves are stopped. Quite unusual. I would disagree that the plow is therefore bull-nosed, but the distance from the front toe of the plow plane and the cutting iron needs to be slight, around two or three inches.

  4. Thanks, Peter and Jennie. That is clear to me now. Looking forward to the post on the square.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s