Sorry for all the bench posts. (Hey, that should be the name of this blog.) I have a lot of extra jetsam (or is it flotsam?) sitting around as I crank out my next book. Here’s an awesome piece of detritus.
A couple years ago a reader sent me a cardboard box containing two unused pieces of bench hardware , and the instructions! , from the Mechanical Manufacturing Co. One piece of hardware, a bench clamp, is stamped as patent pending (but I can’t find a patent for it). The other gizmo, one of 10 billion bench hooks patented between 1854 and 1920, received a patent in 1910. (If you don’t have any friends either you can read the patent here.)
The bench hook is a cool piece of spring-loaded hardware that you can install into the top of any work surface merely by cutting a shallow mortise and driving in two screws. The bench hook has three different kinds of bearing surfaces (serrated, two points or flat). And you can set the hook for a variety of heights.
The other piece of hardware is a cool quick-release tail vise you can install anywhere with a mallet. When installed on the benchtop, it’s a little less than 3/8″ high. Pull the lever back and the forked dog extends 1-1/4″. Push the button at the rear and the dog snaps back into its case.
And, most important: It makes an awesome clicking noise than annoys your co-workers when you engage it 60 times in a row while they are trying to edit a story by Toshio Odate.
Though the patent and directions don’t mention this, my guess is that this hardware was intended for house carpenters who needed to set up a quick workbench on a home site (which was still common practice in 1910). I also could see how some amateurs might find it useful.
We shot a short video that demonstrates how these devices are applied on a temporary benchtop.
– Christopher Schwarz
Other Bench Resources (Yes, Some Are New!)
– Do you get a funny feeling inside when you look at cool old patents of woodworking stuff? Here is your porn site. It’s called the Directory of American Tool and Machinery Patents (DATAMP for short), and you can explore its bowels by visiting datamp.org.
– Ever heard of Rob Tarule? He built the Roubo workbench in Scott Landis’s “The Workbench Book.” Visit Tarule’s site at heartofthewood.com. His 17th-century stuff is just awesome.
– And my pathetic commercial plea: I have a new DVD on building the workbench featured on the cover of the August 2010 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. The DVD shows how to build a monster 18th-century workbench using hand tools.
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