Traditional Workbench at Heathrow Airport

When Terminal Five at Heathrow Airport won ‘Best Airport Terminal for 2016’ I suspect voters weren’t swayed by the fact that there is a beautiful old woodworking bench sitting in the departures lounge.

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A well-used woodworking bench gracing Cafe Nero at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 departure lounge

The traffic gods of the A40 and M40 must have been smiling down on us as we arrived far too early to drop off my son’s hold luggage  as he embarked on a visit to South Korea, so we headed to Cafe Nero at the left hand end of Terminal Five’s departure lounge. I didn’t notice it at first but in the queue to purchase our drinks I realised that the table that was displaying bags of coffee beans had a vice attached.

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The evidence that this was no ordinary old vintage table

The workbench had a lovely tail vice on it, with square bench dog holes.

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The glass jar of coffee beans sits in the tool tray. At the other end the face vice appears to be missing.

The bench appears to be a German-style workbench, perhaps from the 19th century. Christopher Schwartz has a good critique of this bench design style in his Popular Woodworking blog column .

The the most similar image I can find is of a Joiners Bench with German Bench Screw from the Jos Harm catalogue as referenced by Christopher Schwartz in his book Workbenches, Revised Edition: From Design and Theory to Construction and Use.
joiners bench with German screw

 

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This is a workbench surface that has seen a lot of use. I can’t imagine the 19th century woodworkers for whom this bench was so much a part of their working life would have an inkling that it would end up forming part of the visual landscape for travellers at one of the world’s busiest airports as they choose which smoothie to buy.

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