17th-century workbench questions continue

There was a big jump in the numbers of views here on my blog the other day, & I don’t think it had to do with bird-watching. As some of you know, I have been distracted by spring migration & haven’t written much wood-working lately. Views on the blog went about 500-600 a day, then a quick spike up to 954 views yesterday.

 The explanation is that I got “quasi-Schwarz-ed.” Chris Schwarz is writing this week about Joseph Moxon’s workbench, and in a teaser-post on the subject he mentioned my work… (it’s a “quasi-Schwarz-ing” because he didn’t post a link, making his readers work to get to me…a “full-Schwarz-ing” would have a link. http://blog.woodworking-magazine.com/blog/A+Visit+From+The+Ghost+Of+Joseph+Moxon.aspx?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+woodworkingmagazine+%28Woodworking+Magazine%29)

 Chris is dealing with the bench screw as it’s called by Moxon and Randle Holme. We’ll see how he gets on with it; it has always perplexed me. I’ll be away for a while up in Maine; so I will miss the fun. I have some notes about it here:



 One thing about Moxon’s bench that I did differently with my bench is that the front edge of the bench top overhangs the frame’s front face. This seems impractical to me, so when I made my bench I cut the joints so that the front face of the frame and the front edge of the top form a plane.

Moxon's joiner's bench, London 1680s
Felebien’s bench, top overhangs the front of the frame.

plate XXX of Felebien

The bench in Wierix’ Childhood of Christ also shows the top overhanging the front…funny, isn’t it? Has anyone made one that way?

Wierix, workbench detail

9 thoughts on “17th-century workbench questions continue

  1. All the work benches at the school where I attend have overhanging edges and it is annoying.

  2. I always assumed that Moxon’s bench legs are flush with the front and back of the bench top. If you zoom in on the illustration in the Google Books 1703 3rd edition and measure the distance between front and rear legs on the left side of the bench, it is about the same as the width of the bench top.

    Diderot also illustrates a MENUISERIE bench (also the ÉBÉNISTERIE et MARQUETERIE bench) that has a crochet and an overhanging top and support holes in the legs.

    Maybe a holdfast (or wooden peg) was inserted in each front leg (but not wedged tight) to support Stuff for edge shooting. These supports would have to stick out more than the top overhangs (which can’t be more than a couple of inches).

    Or maybe Felebien and Wierix shot the edges of narrow Stuff by pressing the Stuff on edge against the planing stop (as Ian Kirby does), and shot wider Stuff by using the bench top as a shooting board.

  3. Looking at the Moxon bench it is easy to assume the legs were not flush with the front of the top. But if you look very closely the bottom edge of the crochet/bench screw is engraved in the same plane as the bottom edge of the bench top. The error in perspective makes it look like the legs are set back, but I don’t think they are. I think they are flush with the front of the bench in this case.

  4. I am not sure about Felebien. It could be that the engraver had so much fun adding shadows everywhere, that he also added a border with shadows to the table (and as everyone knows, tables always overhang)

  5. I love how with the Felebien bench the double-screw vise looks like it would take up the entire length of the bench. Now THAT’S a face vise.

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