I attended the New College at the University of Alabama before I became decidedly Old School. In our Humanities seminar, we did things like break boards with our bare hands, and rappelled down a bluff on the Warrior River. As the only former High School ath-a-leete in the class (three sports), I was put on “belay,” so I had to hold the rope at the bottom of the bluff, and was responsible for everyones’ safety. One young sorority woman showed up to the rappelling exercise wearing a very short skirt. She slipped, flipped upside down at the top of the bluff, and showed everyone a nice pair of legs. Despite the distraction, I got her down with no visible harm.
To ahh, elevate the conversation, I declare that Lost Art Press, which published these two tomes, is a national treasure. Based in the South (Kentucky), they edit, typeset, and publish everything in the US. And these are some quality hardback books.
Their first famous book was actually written by an Estonian scholar named Ants Viires, and the full title is Woodworking in Estonia: Historical Survey. The strange and literally bizarre story of it’s translation and dissemination alone are worth the price of the book. The key players were the USSR, Israel, the USA, and the Soviet Socialist Republic of Estonia. Just another day when I wished I could make stuff like this up.
The book itself is thorough, readable, and best of all, it has pictures. Therefore I don’t have to do things like visualize how you can hand plane a board on a bench without a vise.
The publisher of this book, and co-founder of Lost Art, Christopher Schwartz, was obviously inspired by this classic. Here’s the cover of an equally fine book that Schwartz wrote.
I’m making projects out of this book I got for Christmas like crazy. I’ll write about those later, but I see three more workbenches in my future. Schwartz, and his researcher Suzanne Ellison, go all the way back to Imperial Rome, and the oldest known workbench illustrations. Strangely enough, those benches work as well, or better, than modern ones. This design comes from a fresco from Herculaneum, buried in AD 79 by the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius.
I will be forced to make one of these eight legged benches. Hopefully our local sawmill hasn’t closed yet. I’ll need a good sized slab of wood.