Workbench for the Henry Boyd Exhibit

Today we started work on the workbench for the Cincinnati Museum Center’s new permanent exhibit, “Made in Cincinnati.” Our workbench is supposed to represent what woodworker Henry Boyd (1802-1886) might have used at his furniture business.

I decided to design a British-style joiner’s bench for the exhibit. It was tempting to build a German-style workbench, but Cincinnati’s German population was just beginning to blossom when Boyd was a young man. (In 1830, only 5 percent of the city’s population had German blood.)

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So a British bench seemed more likely, based on the population at the time and the fact that this simple bench style was ubiquitous in 19th-century America. Also, Cincinnati was still a new city when Boyd was alive, so a bench that could be made quickly without a lot of material (or machinery, which entered Cincinnati in a big way circa 1850) made sense.

I know the bench above looks small. That’s because the floor space allotted to the workbench exhibit is only 20” x 60”. So I had to design the bench to fit the space and make it look realistic.

We’re building this bench with yellow pine, which was widely available in Cincinnati in the 19th century – it’s in all our old houses. We are building the bench using hide glue and cut nails – plus a linseed oil finish. In addition to the planing stop and holdfast holes, I’ll add a face vise powered by a wooden screw.

After we finish the bench, the museum’s staff will antique the piece so it looks shop-worn. 

If you’d like to help us build Boyd’s bench, get in your car next Saturday (March 26) and join us at our Open Day in Covington, Ky. We’ll have the storefront open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., selling Lost Art Press books, Crucible tools and apparel. We’ll also assemble Boyd’s bench in the storefront. We welcome any and all gawkers and helpers.

The storefront is located at 837 Willard St., Covington, KY 41011. There is plenty of street parking on Willard and 9th streets.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Donating my time and money to this important exhibit is possible only because we hired Megan Fitzpatrick on full time. Without her help carrying our editorial load, I would have had to pass on this opportunity. And the reason we could hire Megan is because of your support. I’m not asking you to buy more stuff. I’m just saying thanks and letting you know that your support makes a difference.


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