There isn’t sufficient written in English on the woodworking of the
Chinese language, who’ve a protracted and wonderful woodworking and
technological historical past. However in the present day I’ve been gobbling up “China
at Work” by Rudolf P. Hommel (MIT Press, 1937), which focuses
on instruments used for making different instruments (blacksmithing), meals,
clothes, shelter and transportation.
In contrast to different modern writers, Hommel lived in China for
a number of years, had monumental respect for the tradition and his goal
was “to analyze and never criticize.”
His e-book lined Chinese language materials tradition earlier than the nation
grew to become industrialized, and the e-book is solely fascinating.
After all, I’ve been deep into the woodworking part of the
e-book and there may be heaps to study.
All through the e-book, Hommel options images of the standard low
Chinese language workbenches utilized in lots of the trades. After which he
exhibits the picture above: Fig. 362. Carpenter’s Bench Cease. Of the
cease he writes:
To carry a board in place when planing it, the carpenter makes use of
an instrument just like the one proven in Fig. 362. The 2 spikes
pointing downward are pushed into the bench or the highest of a
picket horse. The board whose floor is to be planed is laid
flat upon the work bench and its edge is pressed towards the
two finish spikes of the cease. To aircraft the slender fringe of a
board, the board is about upon edge, pushed between the 2 legs
of this bench cease and thus held firmly in place. The size of
the 2 components, held collectively by an iron rivet, is 6-1/four inches.
The bench-stop was photographed within the Native Metropolis of
There are many Western planing stops which can be pushed into
the benchtop, reminiscent of a planing knife. But I’m not conscious of
any Western cease that works like this Chinese language one. It’s fairly
Hommel’s e-book is, on the entire, fairly attention-grabbing. And it was a
troublesome one for him to analysis. On the time he lived in
China (1921-1926 and 1928-1930), the Chinese language had an “innate
aversion” to the digicam. “This prolonged not solely to
photographing the folks but additionally to their belongings.”
Add to that the very fact the Chinese language had been additionally offended by Hommel’s
ruler, his job was troublesome.
“The taking of measurements with a footrule was virtually as
offensive to the Chinese language because the taking of images.”
I nonetheless have a pair hundred pages to go together with this e-book, however
— Christopher Schwarz