I like reading about workbench patents as much as I like movies about gladiators (which is a lot).
So here’s how to prove your bench geekiness, and it won’t cost a penny (except for the bandwidth). Jeff Burks has compiled almost 2,000 pages of United States patent papers and drawings related to workbenches and workholding between 1845 and 1960. The patents are arranged chonologically in a .pdf file, which has some basic bookmarks and is somewhat searchable using Acrobat’s “find” feature.
This is an amazing treasure trove of just about every amazing, ingenious and idiotic workbench patent you could imagine. There must be 30 different patents relating to the parallel guide of a leg vise alone. And the number of patents for pop-up bench dogs is frankly a bit bewildering.
And here’s the best part. You can download the entire 112mb file for free. All Burks asks is that if you find any patents that relate to workholding or workbenches for woodworking (not metalworking) that you drop him a line. His e-mail is embedded in the .pdf file.
I’ve spent a few weeks reading this document and it has sparked a lot of ideas for things I could try in the shop myself. Check it out. You’ll be impressed.
– Christopher Schwarz
Still More Workbench Resources
– The Directory of American Tool and Machinery Patents. This is another treasure trove of patent information on all sorts of tools. datamp.org
– Google has a dang-good patent site that is highly searchable. google.com/patents
– I have a new DVD on building an 18th-century workbench. It’s old school. We shot it during several months of work. Watch my beard and hair grow and shrink. Amazing. Check it out in our store.