Antique Lefty Workbench in the Wild
Until yesterday, I’d not seen a left-handed antique workbench in the wild.
While I’m sure there are some out there, the historical record suggests that left-handed woodworkers usually made do with right-handed benches and learned to plane with their dominant hand on the toe of a handplane.
While poking around Bloodline Merchants, a delightful import business in Cincinnati, we stumbled on this bench which, like my bench in my shop, is a place for books and coffee.
It’s an English or Nicholson-style bench made from (mostly) softwood. The leg vise appears to be original and is mounted on the right front leg of the bench.
Judging from the wear on the bench and the construction of the vise screw, my guess is it’s a 20th-century bench that has seen a lot of miles. It has a couple delightful details. In addition to the standard dovetailed drawer let into the front apron, the maker added a cubbyhole on the left side of the bench, using the open space between the aprons for a shelf.
So lefties, you can rejoice that some English joiner got fed up with right-handed benches and did something about it.
— Christopher Schwarz