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Beauty & the Handmade Aesthetic

As a theoretical exercise, imagine a machine that processes furniture parts to that hundredth-of-an-inch level of precision. What would happen if we dial that machine back to wider tolerances? It would begin to spit out parts with greater variability across the board, maybe mill out dovetails with slightly uneven angles or generate chair-leg turnings that weren’t exactly identical. Let’s say that we can even program the machine to produce the parts with even more extreme local variations, perhaps leaving coarse milling marks on the underside of a tabletop or generating a drawer on which the sides are of differing thicknesses. These parts might be assembled with some difficulty, forming a piece of furniture that, on paper, matches the typical variations...

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A High Chair for the Grandkids

We may say it often, but it bears repeating here: We love hearing from our readers. Y’all are some of the most thoughtful, engaging, and entertaining people out there. You are what this whole magazine effort is all about. Not long ago, we received an email from Richard in Yorkshire, who has recently become a grandfather twice over. Neither of his grandchildren lives nearby, but as Richard noted, “when they come to visit, one day, the kids will need a chair.” He decided to build a child’s high chair based on the exam article from Issue Three. This is exactly the kind of inspiration we want readers to find in these photo essays of antique furniture – a sense of freedom in...

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Take Your Time

In his excellent book of small essays, The Book of Delights, the poet Ross Gay writes that “Webster’s definition of loiter reads thus: ‘to stand or wait around idly without apparent purpose,’ and ‘to travel indolently with frequent pauses.’ Among the synonyms for this behavior are linger, loaf, laze, lounge, lollygag, dawdle, amble, saunter, meander, putter, dillydally, and mosey…. All of these words to me imply having a nice day. They imply having the best day. They also imply being unproductive. Which leads to being, even if only temporarily, nonconsumptive, and this is a crime in America.” He adds that another synonym “for loitering [is] taking one’s time. For while the previous list of synonyms allude to time, taking one’s...

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"Small is Beautiful" Now In Stock

Back in October of 2019, Joshua and I drove to New Brunswick, Canada, to spend a couple days at the off-grid homestead of boatbuilder Harry Bryan and his wife, Martha. We were there to take photos for an article Harry was writing for Issue Eight, but more importantly, we wanted to sit down with the Bryans and learn what motivated them to choose the path they had. Harry’s boat shop is an extraordinary collection of innovations, from his treadle-powered bandsaw to his efficient solar array. They built their home utilizing the slipform masonry methods that back-to-the-landers Scott and Helen Nearing (of The Good Life fame) pioneered, and milled all their lumber on a sawmill that Harry salvaged from a field in...

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The Recipients of the 2021 M&T Craft Research Grant

After much agonizing over the pile of compelling applications we received, we have whittled it down to the two final grant recipients. Our first recipient is Agnes Chang, who will be partnering with woodworking instructor Adan Jhan in documenting the last professional handplane makers in Taiwan. Traditional Taiwanese handplanes (which resemble Japanese tools but are pushed rather than pulled, at standing benches) are an amalgamation of Chinese, Japanese, and Western influences, and the modifications and adaptations made to these styles offer clues about the overlapping evolution of each. Chang and Jhan will be touring Taiwan to learn from the remaining few traditional planemakers to study how the traditional methods of making and using these handplanes might offer wisdom for the...

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To Further Complicate the Matter

In many respects the “conservation ideal” is contained in the Code of Ethics for the American Institute for Conservation, an organization formed to promote the knowledge and practices of the profession. Quoting from the code: “Conservation of historic and artistic works is a pursuit requiring extensive training and special aptitudes. It places in the hands of the conservator cultural holdings which are of great value and historical significance. To be worthy of this special trust requires a high sense of moral responsibility. Whether in private practice or on the staff of an institution or regional center, the conservator has obligations not only to the historic and artistic works with which he is entrusted, but also to their owners or custodians,...

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More Ways to Keep in Touch

OK, so we’re working on ways to make our content more easily accessible for our readers. We always have new folks coming in from all sorts of directions who have missed the last few years of updates. They want to know how to get in the M&T loop. If you want all our blog posts to show up in your email inbox (average is one per day, five days per week), we have an email blog subscription: Subscribe to the Blog for Daily Notifications Subscribe   Or if you’d rather get an every-other-week highlight email, we have our regular mailing list: Sign up for our mailing list Subscribe     Really, if you want to be first in line for...

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Discounted M&T T-shirts

Hey… Our new T-shirt will be headed our way soon. It’s one of our most edgy designs to date (just wait until you see it). It’ll look great with its vintage black color. Stay tuned on that. In anticipation of our new shirts, we have discounted our other T-shirts down to $18, including women’s and kids’.   Oh, and we found two of our old “Cutting Edge Technology” shirts (one Medium and one XXL) in a shirt box and updated our store’s inventory. Move quick before they’re snatched up. p.s. Today, Mike and I are putting the finishing touches on our articles for Issue Eleven. Many of our authors have already turned in their manuscripts early! This one’s looking like...

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Go Time

This may appear a humdrum setting of desk work, or some high-schooler’s last-minute research-paper cram session. Nothing terribly captivating or particularly interesting. But to me, this morning’s scene from our dining table encapsulates one of the highlights of the editorial year at M&T: It’s article-writing time. Every six months, Joshua, our authors, and me buckle down and gather our thoughts and sources for an intensely focused time of capturing concepts on paper. We try to maintain a conscious balance in each issue of the practical, the historical, and the philosophical, and in our advance planning we look to fill perceived holes with ideas that have been in the waiting. These genres require radically different approaches to research and writing – for...

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Podcast 29 – “Craft as a Daily Practice”

  Mortise & Tenon Magazine · 29 – "Craft as a Daily Practice"   Many of us find it hard to get time in the shop. Work is demanding, home repairs pile up, the kids need to be carted to and from extra curriculars. When life is full, how can we make room for craft? In this episode, Joshua and Mike explore the value of regular, disciplined practice in a low-investment way. What if you spent only 10-15 minutes per day making shavings? Could you find ways to put tools in your living space so that it’s easy to pick it up for a few minutes? In episode 29, the guys argue that regular craft practice (even if it’s only...

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