Early 17th-century Swedish Joiner’s Bench
Alert reader Bengt Nilsson of Stockholm, Sweden, sent in this great photo of a joiner’s bench that was recovered from the Vasa , a Swedish battleship that sank on its maiden voyage in 1628.
Nilsson took the photo while touring the Vasa Museum with an American exchange student. He estimates that the bench is about 24″ high, 16″ deep and 8′ long.
It has some interesting features. Check out the location of the crochet and the holes below the open part of the hook. Those holes appear to line up with the holes in the sliding deadman. This set-up makes it easy to rig up a long board to plane its edge.
Also interesting: The angled legs at the rear of the bench. This feature is common on English benches and some French and Canadian benches I’ve seen. One possible explanation for its appearance here might be that it helped the bench nest against the hull. You often see that explanation for the shape of sea chests.
However, the more likely explanation is that it is for stability. At only 16″ wide, the angled legs would help the bench’s stability when working across the grain of your work. Also curious: The lack of a rear stretcher.
If you’d like to explore this photo even more, download the high-resolution version below (be sure to check out the planes and other tools in the display case above the bench).
– Christopher Schwarz
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