When a workbench leaves a workshop, the results can be sad.
I’ve seen perfectly good workbenches transformed into plant stands in a hallway. I’ve seen them as displays for pottery. And I’ve seen a lot of them pressed into service as kitchen islands.
This last use might not be the worst fate for a workbench. At least it still sees the occasional cutting tool, some fiberous plant materials (ginger, carrots) and perhaps even a little blood. Heck, a woodworking vise does a good job of opening jars of pickles and peanut butter.
The saddest examples are usually in retail. I’ve seen several workbenches in clothing stores holding stacks of sweaters, underwear and high-end jeans. This weekend, reader Jonathan Hartford sent me a photo of a French workbench he found at a Crabtree and Evelyn store in Massachusetts.
Its drawer is filled with fragrant soaps. Its bottom shelf holds gift boxes instead of bench planes. (Note the nice detail on the bottom stretcher.) Hartford snapped the photo above and then gave the bench a hip check.
Still solid, he reports.
Perhaps there is hope for this one to go back in the shop someday. I don’t know if you’ll ever get that flowery smell out, however.
– Christopher Schwarz