you use your workbench for wood alone, you are unusual. My workbenches
get used for all sorts of things, from wrapping presents to cracking
walnuts. Opening stubborn jars of peanut butter to holding acetate
horsies while I glue on their wounded legs.
So I was delighted
when a reader reminded me of this passage from Herman Melville’s “Moby
Dick.” And it gave me a few ideas as to how we can save on our medical
bills in 2011 in the Schwarz household.
— Christopher Schwarz
one grand stage where he enacted all his various parts so manifold, was
his vice-bench; a long rude ponderous table furnished with several
vices, of different sizes, and both of iron and of wood. At all times
except when whales were alongside, this bench was securely lashed
athwartships against the rear of the Try-works.
A belaying pin
is found too large to be easily inserted into its hole: the carpenter
claps it into one of his ever ready vices, and straightway files it
smaller. A lost landbird of strange plumage strays on board, and is made
a captive: out of clean shaved rods of right-whale bone, and
cross-beams of sperm whale ivory, the carpenter makes a pagoda-looking
cage for it. An oarsman sprains his wrist: the carpenter concocts a
soothing lotion. Stubb longed for vermillion stars to be painted upon
the blade of his every oar; screwing each oar in his big vice of wood,
the carpenter symmetrically supplies the constellation. A sailor takes a
fancy to wear shark-bone ear-rings: the carpenter drills his ears.
Another has the toothache: the carpenter out pincers, and clapping one
hand upon his bench bids him be seated there; but the poor fellow
unmanageably winces under the unconcluded operation; whirling round the
handle of his wooden vice, the carpenter signs him to clap his jaw in
that, if he would have him draw the tooth.