|Angels Camp Museum|
Calaveras County, California
The Angels Camp Museum is an important regional Museum, housing many rare artifacts and collections relating to the history of the Mother Lode. With the recent opening of the new Artisan's Exhibit area, the Museum has begun a transition from the traditional emphasis of display only, to a more "interactive" approach to teaching local history. The Aritsan's Exhibit area is intended to highlight various craftsmen who contributed to the growth of the local community. My contribution was to build a typical 19th Century carpenter's bench for the new, interactive Carpenter's Shop.
|A Nice Version of Underhill's Portable Workbench|
(mine is long-gone)
image courtesy closegrain.com
Back in 1998, when my wife and I started working in the Carpenter's Shop at Columbia State Historic Park, I was faced with trying to build a small, functional workbench to fit the tiny shop part of a small retail space. I was fortunate to have found the design for a portable workbench in Roy Underhill's "The Woodwright's Apprentice" book. Over the 10 years of use, that little bench proved itself as a great interpretive tool and gave me the experience to design and create the bench for the Angels Camp Museum.
|A Classically Simple Carpenter's Bench|
image source unknown
For the Angels Camp bench, I wanted to follow the basic "form and function" of a traditional bench but keep it simple. It needed to be a good size (6 ft. long) with a nice mass for the top ( 4"x12"x6' ) and a tool well along the length. Support would come from a stout frame (4"x4" and 2"x6"), through mortised and tenoned, with a leg-vise on the left. It would need plenty of holes for a pair of hold-fasts and bench-dogs and maybe a single drawer on the front.
|Lewis Miller in His Carpenter's Shop|
image courtesy folkartcooperstown.blogspot.com
Traditional carpenter's benches seem to be as varied as the people who built them, whether past or present. I fell in love with Lewis Miller's contemporary illustration of his mid-1800's carpenter's workshop and after finding several similar original examples, I was inspired to come up with my own design.
|My Finished Bench|
images by Lindy Miller 2012
I purchased the hold-fasts from Woodcraft and while cleaning up the rough castings, decided to grind off the large TAIWAN on the sides to "improve" their apperance. The screw for the leg vise came from Busy Bee Tools in Canada and the Douglas Fir and Pine from the local lumber yard. After the pictures were taken, I fashioned a pair of bench-dogs to complete the project. I think it turned out well and I'm looking forward to using it at the Museum as we recreate a Carpenter's Shop of not that long ago.
|Another View Showing Leg Vise|