I finished up work on the base configuration of this old-style Roubo workbench last night for a photo shoot today. But before I tore apart the shop and moved all of our workbenches around for the photographer, there was one last task to perform.
Ever since I visited Roy Underhill’s school in Pittsboro, N.C., last year, I’ve been charmed by an old-world idea of his: That you should nail a coin to the underside of every workbench. The coins were offerings to the “wee folk” of the forest who might , if displeased , bring you bad fortune.
Ask anyone, I’m not one to mess with European tree fairies. So this morning I fetched a special coin from a large copper bowl in my sunroom. The bowl contains the last remnants of my coin collection as a kid. My grandfather traveled a lot and always brought me coins from the countries he visited.
I knew exactly the coin to get: A 5-franc coin minted in 1971. It features a shapely woman in flowing robes (surely I’m going to hell for having impure teen-age thoughts about Lady Liberty). For me this coin makes perfect sense.
My grandfather introduced me to woodworking. The bench is French in design and, like the franc itself, is considered obsolete. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t look good.
– Christopher Schwarz
P.S. The benchtop is shiny because the oil/varnish finish on it is still wet. So don’t worry , I didn’t jump the requin and apply a high-gloss finish.