Beech and Maple American Carpenter's Workbench c.1880



This is an original American carpenter's workbench from the 1880s. The work surface is made from beech and maple, and it measures W 82.75" x D 26.5". It has an inlay section for larger tools and an attachment for screwdrivers along the width of the back.There are 8 dogs spaced along the width of the front. The base of this work bench is made from Douglas Fir and has a footprint that measures W 55" x D 23.5" x H31. The bench features two die cast vises, the tail vise extends the bench by an extra 9" and the other vise is missing its handle. The piece is structurally sound and has retained the naturally distressed look of an industrial piece of this kind.

  • CREATOR Unknown.
  • MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES Beech, Maple, Douglas Fir, Die Cast Steel.
  • CONDITION Excellent.  Wear consistent with age and use.
  • DIMENSIONS H 34 in. x D 26.5 in. W 80 in.


A workbench is essentially a table fitted with various holding devices, such as benchstops and vises, made sufficiently strong and massive to be used for a variety of woodworking operations. The modern workbench derives from two separate pieces: a table for planing wood and a bench for supporting wood to be sawn.

Designs have changed over the centuries, beginning with low Roman planing benches and slowly growing in height to present day hand-high benches, and acquiring different accessories. French benches of the 17th and 18th centuries, for example, depended largely on stops and dogs to hold the workpiece, whereas British and American benches relied more on various vises (which first appeared on medieval German benches). How and where vises are fitted further differentiates between different bench types, the most common of which are those known as the standard cabinetmaker's bench (fitted with a face vise and a tail vise).

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