Plate 11 from A.J. Roubo’s “L’Art du Menuisier” is one of my favorite woodworking documents. The workbench shown there has inspired many of my own designs, but that’s only half the story.
Plate 11 is backed with visual detail in the section at the top of the plate, which is an interior view of a craftsman’s shop. It features eight French-style joiners’ benches and six men at work. The walls are covered in jigs, tools and work in progress.
I’ve studied this plate a long time, and what is fascinating to me is that it’s not just a romantic view of a shop. Pretty much every item shown in the plate is discussed in further detail somewhere else in Roubo’s volumes. In fact, many of the items are intentionally shown out of scale so you can study them. So no, dividers were not as tall as a grown man in the 18th century.
Also interesting is the work that is going on down at the benches. One menuisier is planing a long board against the bench stop. A second is sticking a moulding on the bench with the stock offset on the bench stop. A third is crosscutting on the bench (with the help of a holdfast), and a fourth is ripping with the stock hanging off the benchtop.
To show you what a great thing this plate is, I’ve created two wallpaper images for computer screens that you can download now for free. These are for 16:9 monitors and are available in four sizes (1,280 x 800; 1,440 x 900; 1,680 x 1,050 and 1,920 x 1,200).
One of the images is of the workroom. The other is of some of the bench details shown at the bottom of the plate.
I hope you enjoy the wallpaper (it works with both Apple and PC) and the poster as well. If you see something cool in the poster, post a comment below.
– Christopher Schwarz
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