Issue 07 T.O.C. – A Good Day's Work with Richard Arnold


This is part of a blog series which reveals the table of contents of upcoming Issue Seven. As always, we’ll be discussing one article per weekday in order to give you a taste of what is come.

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A Good Day’s Work

A Day in the Life of a Village Carpenter

Richard Arnold

What constitutes a “good day’s work” for a hand-tool craftsman? Judging by historical accounts, quite an impressive amount. Different period references cited a number of tasks that were typically accomplished in a day, but author and professional joiner Richard Arnold looks to the classic memoir of Walter Rose for guidance. In his 1937 book, The Village Carpenter, Rose notes that “the making of a simple four-panel inside door was considered a good day’s work.”

Arnold immediately gets down to business in investigating every aspect of this operation. Approaching the project as a study in experimental archaeology, he weighs the challenges and benefits of engaging the task from an efficient, unplugged mindset. Along the way, we’ll look at a few little-remembered practices of efficient hand work, such as the use of the bench knife, and explore a few clever possibilities for expediting long rip cuts. From shop lighting to sharp tools, mortising to mulleting (“a curious term,” Arnold notes, for checking the thickness of the edge of a panel), we’re given an illuminating insight into the workflow of a pre-industrial craftsman.

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