During a quick inventory of M&T back issues in our storage unit, I recently discovered that we’re about to hit a significant milestone in the life of this magazine – one that had me reflecting a bit about “the old days.”
Issue One is where it all began.
In February 2016, Joshua, his wife and kids, a few of their friends, and I were shipping the inaugural issue of M&T out of their living room. We’d set up a big plank on sawhorses in the center of the room, and the dining room table added a few precious square feet of workspace. The kitchen counter was fully occupied, too. For several days, a rotating crew of volunteers wrapped the magazine in brown paper, fastened a wax-sealed trade card, and stuffed it into a mailing envelope with a handful of pine plane shavings. When we ran out of shavings, we dragged Joshua’s workbench in from the barn to make more. The trips to the Post Office with van-loads of magazines seemed endless, and I think that Joshua might have been wondering what he’d gotten himself into.
Around that time, he and I started working together on a regular basis – first for one afternoon a week, then one day a week, and pretty soon I’d left my old job (varnisher, rigger, and carpenter at a local boatyard) to work on furniture full time in his 14’x17’ studio. At that point, the balance of work was something like 80% furniture restoration and 20% editorial work, but that quickly changed. M&T seemed to have a life of its own! Before we knew it, we stopped taking on repair work and raised a new (much bigger) shop to focus completely on M&T. Today, Issue Six is close to completion, and we’re filling out the next several editions in the pipeline.
But Issue One will always be special to us.
Joshua built this magazine from the ground up, envisioning the kind of journal he would like to read himself. Details like, “Where does somebody go to print a magazine?,” “What kind of paper should I use?,” “How the heck do I put a barcode on the back?” all had to be sorted out. And they were. Issue One set forth the concepts of in-depth research, beautiful photography, bridging disciplines to bring forth a clearer perspective on pre-industrial workmanship, and celebrating historic furniture. As Joshua noted in his seven-tenet Mortise & Tenon Manifesto, “Without apology, we celebrate the wisdom, skill, and ingenuity of our woodworking forefathers.” And that’s still what we’re all about.
And now, Issue One is just about gone forever. Our goal is to keep each edition in stock for a few years, and (as my recent inventory indicates), we’re down to just 117 copies of this inaugural issue. Aside from a few boxes that Joshua and I are tucking away for the long-term, we’ll soon be bidding Issue One a fond farewell.
Consider this fair warning: If you’ve never ordered your copy of Issue One, it’s now or never.