Scandinavian workbench restore
The short story of the Scandinavian workbench and a visit at a museum.
In this blog I will try to tell about the workbench as good as I can and then show the restore of an old one I bought and restored.
Actually my workbench is Danish, made in Denmark, more exactly Copenhagen app. 100 years back is my guess and the Scandinavian workbench is of German origin… First full version with front and end vise known is from Nürenberg app. 1500 by Löffelholz, but it took more than 200 years before it became standard. The end vise became standard in Germany and Scandinavia, where in the South the workbench was more primitive as the so called Roubo workbench, where it has a table, a stop, a holdfast and the leg vise where you need to bend down to lock the leg according to the board thickness (he was a French cabinetmaker and author). So it should have been referred to as the German workbench, but since I am Danish (and so live in Scandinavia) I will stick to that name (bandit I am).
But before I start I will share some good news with my fellow LJ’s here – I got a new workshop! – this was why I bought the bench; I finally got room for a full size cabinetmakers workbench that has been on my wish list since I was a young boy.
Here I am in front of the new shop, cheers guys and girls.
My shaving horse has become useful as a bench for me and the visitors.
The shop has two rooms, kitchen and bathroom – quite a luxury since I used to have only a small basement room.
Here the main room, a wonderful workroom with fireplace and plenty of room for playing.
I have started to use the shop but most of my tools are still in storage – my ohhhhh I can’t wait to find room for them all here.
But what is important for this blog is what is in the center; the workbench.
But we start at a museum city just outside Copenhagen:
It is a wonderful place called Frilandsmuseet.
In this place houses from all over Denmark and from different periods of the Danish history are now rebuild and all details including furniture and workspaces are intact.
Historically a workbench started something like this, known as the Roman bench.
Wooden pegs as stops and support or metal clamps could hold the wood in place.
A top from a board and some legs, simple as that, easy to make on the work site.
I will guess the shaving horse is just an advanced version of this.
Here a sample from the museum.
This is an old style table from a farmer’s house, the wedge holds it together and this detail is later transferred to the workbench.
A simple workbench could have been like this, just a sturdy base and two planks.
Notice the shaving horse.
A really old workbench where the front vise has been lost, but it is easy to see the main plank with bench dog holes and how the stretchers has been transformed into a tool storage.
And here it is, the traditional workbench.
Wedged together base so it can easily be moved.
From one end, notice the way it is joined is the same way as we use today.
Also notice the holdfast.
The front vise.
Holdfast old style.
From another workbench, more primitive holdfast.
Carpenters workshop, notice the plane cabinet…
Again the stretchers are used as storage.
Yet another bench from a sawmill, the guy is sharpening the saw.
(N. C. Roms, Haandgerningsbog, 1894)
An old style DIY workbench could look like this, quite elegant I think.
Or be a simple on top version that could be stored away.
End of this part of the blog, in next part I will show how my bench looked when I bought it and tell about how it was restored.
Hope it can be to some inspiration.
-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.