Roman Workbenches Letterpress Edition
By Christopher Schwarz
The first workbenches we know of were built by the Greco-Romans, and these benches were decidedly different than modern benches. Many are low – about knee-high – have no stretchers between the legs and use a series of pegs or nails for workholding.
“Roman Workbenches” explores this early form using paintings, engravings, writings and a surviving example from a Roman fort in Saalburg. The author built a low Roman bench for the book and spent much of 2016 decoding its workholding with some surprising findings.
In addition, the author built a taller bench from the Holy Roman Empire that wedded a typical Roman workbench undercarriage with the first-known combination of a tail vise and face vise. The tail vise and face vise are unlike modern vises and offer some surprising advantages.
The book tells the sometimes twisting and personal tale about researching these benches, sorting out inaccurate information and learning to use the benches without instructions from long-dead Roman woodworkers or German writers.
The book is decidedly PG-13 as it deals with some sexual matter – thanks to the Romans – swordplay, male genitals, urination and carnal affections for a bull.
The 6” x 9” book is 64 pages, hardbound and covered in cotton cloth. Like all Lost Art Press books, it is produced entirely in the United States.
“Roman Workbenches” was printed letterpress by Steam Whistle Letterpress in Newport, Ky., and bound by Acme Binding in Massachusetts. All customers who purchase the letterpress book also receive a pdf of the book.
You can read more about the letterpress process here.