Christopher Schwarz on Roman Workbenches

schwarz and underhill roman bench
next book
(I’ve been urging him to check with it as a
monograph, given its single topic and type – and maybe my
penchant for hyperbole) will likely be on two Roman workbenches – one
historical design primarily based on an 18th-century drawing of a fresco at
Herculaneum and a surviving fresco at Pompeii, and one early
fashionable design (he’s calling that one the Holy Roman Bench) from
a drawing in a 1505 Nuremberg codex by Martin Loffelholz –
the earliest bench picture discovered that reveals what we would
think about fashionable workholding.

Chris – loopy man that he’s – determined in April that he was
going to construct each benches in time for  Standard
Woodworking in America in October (in between all the opposite
calls for on his time:  working Misplaced Artwork Press, writing for
Standard Woodworking, his household, fee work…). In my 18
years of working with him (I wrote direct advertising and marketing for PW
earlier than becoming a member of the journal workers), he’s by no means missed a
deadline; I believed this one could be the primary. I used to be incorrect.

Within the rush to get issues completed, he really requested me for assist
(uncommon), so I acquired a have a look at the benches in numerous phases as
they went collectively. I used to be there, for instance, when he drilled
the leg mortises within the low bench (to assist spot him on
drilling), and seating the (first) 4 legs. “Hey! Let’s add
4 extra!,” he stated. I believed he was tetched…however now I can’t
think about the factor as a quadruped.

After watching him work on the low bench and attempting it out a
few occasions for myself, I believe it might be good for an
residence woodworker who makes use of hand instruments; it’s the right
top to double as seating and it seems good in addition.

I used to be additionally there to assist hold him on angle for the Holy Roman
Bench legs; the wooden was so moist that steam started pouring out of
the mortise from the bit’s warmth. (I believed at first we’d
really managed to start out a friction fireplace – one thing I used to be
by no means capable of do to earn that Lady Scout badge.)

holy roman bench leg mortise
On this bench,
Chris stopped at 4 legs – however the measurement and angles of those
was additionally fairly odd to my eye at first (and second) look. It
appeared like one thing out of Dr. Seuss – particularly when it was
on its again. However now once more, I can’t think about it every other means;
as soon as the vises had been added it appeared proper.

holy roman bench

You possibly can learn extra about each benches on Chris’s Lost Art Press blog and on
Popular Woodworking blog
(seek for “roman”). And also you’ll
see him discussing them with Roy Underhill on an upcoming
episode of “The Woodwright’s Store.” However we caught up with him
at Standard Woodworking in America – simply days after the benches
had been completed – to ask him concerning the Holy Roman Bench:

— Megan

For extra from Christopher Schwarz on workbenches and
workholding, learn the newly revised version of “Workbenches:
from Design & Theory to Construction & Use

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