In the 7 months I have lived in France, I have seen some amazing examples of traditional French carpenters’ work benches. They are full of tool marks, tool trays, attachments, vices, dog-holes, studded plane stops, nicks gouges patches, etc… Some are almost pristine, some covered in 100+ years of marqueterie glue, and some rotted – full of worm holes. One some you will see the standard “French” leg vice and others have a parallel top vise – also don’t know what to call it – is a southern French/Basque sort of thing. I asked a local “old guy” here and he said was a “thing” here. That is the direct translation
Almost all the benches I see here are slab benches and a number are slab benched with a thick dadoed plank bolted to the front edge to provide square dog holes.
As a man who appreciates such things, as a joiner in the process of building my own bench, and as a tourist in a foreign land I have been busy with my camera. Below is a data-dump of some of the better benches and details that I have seen so far. I will update as I see more in the “wild.”
Side note: I bought a couple and am having the gassed (wood worms are serious here!) and will be bringing them back to the US when we rotate back in a couple of years – one for the house and one for the shop (tall oak slab for dovetail cutting) and IF there is any room in the container I may bring back a couple more – just because my wife hasn’t said no :-).