Issue 10 T.O.C. – Jeff Miller - “An Exercise in Precision & Randomness”

This post is part of a blog series revealing the table of contents of upcoming Issue Ten. As is our custom, we’ll be discussing one article per weekday in order to give you a taste of what is come. 

Please note that the subscription window which includes Issue Ten is open now through February 28th.

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Jeff Miller - “An Exercise in Precision & Randomness: Replicating David Pye’s Fluting Engine”

David Pye pondered deeply about craft. His thoughts, encapsulated in his most well-known book, The Nature and Art of Workmanship, have reverberated for decades within the maker community. But Pye didn’t just work out his philosophy in pen and ink – he chose to live it as well, in the way he worked in his shop. 

David Pye at his "fluting engine." Courtesy: Crafts Study Centre with permission of Crafts Council

In Issue Ten, author and furniture maker Jeff Miller takes us alongside his version of the “fluting engine,” an ingenious device Pye designed for carving bowls. This hand-powered tool features both a degree of regulation (the cutting edge maintains a fixed distance from the fulcrum point to carve flutes of consistent depth) and risk (the rotating bed is adjusted by hand; the complex geometry of compound slices taken at ever-increasing depth is often unpredictable). Miller brings us through the difficulties he had in working through the design of his version, as well as the lessons learned from Pye’s philosophy as it is embodied in this device. He discovers “the power of slight irregularity as an important choice in artistic expression,” and finds in Pye’s invention both the predictability and unpredictability that is always present in hand-tool woodworking.   


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