Two more volumes of Roubo’s masterwork on the woodworking trades have trickled into my hands. I’m still missing two volumes I really want, and I’m probably going to have to buck up and just order them straight from France (a couple helpful French-speaking readers have pointed me to a site that sells all the volumes).
Until those arrive, I’ve been poring over the Roubo volumes on carriage building and garden woodworking. Both are chock-full of engravings of tools, benches, projects, jigs and procedures. One interesting nugget of information has been the illustration of the bench for the carriage trade. The bench is almost exactly like the benches shown throughout the three volumes I now have, but the vise is interesting.
It looks like a twin-screw vise at first, but then when you look at it again, it’s actually more like an inside-out leg vise turned on its side. I know of no modern equivalent. After studying the drawing a bit here’s how I think it works: The screw on the right controls the pressure you apply like the screw on any vise. The assembly on the left acts like a pivot. You move the metal pin (I assume it’s metal) in a hole in the metal bar (item A) that juts out the left side of the vise’s jaw. You pick a hole that will position the left side of the jaw based on the thickness of the work being clamped. You place the jaw so it’s just a bit closer to the benchtop than the thickness of the work. When you then turn the screw, the work will become wedged.
Assuming that we all work with pretty standard thicknesses of wood, the vise could be pretty effective. However, I’d hate to be the guy who walked up to the bench without keeping a sharp eye on that metal bar.
(Ah, and the odd headline on this entry? That’s the Babelfish translation of the French bookstore’s description of the Roubo books. I’ve been called a lot of things, but never a “woody one.”)