Issue 11 T.O.C. – Jeremy Tritchler – “Discovering the Trade, Art, and Mystery of 18th-century Cabinetmaking”

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

The subscription window which includes Issue Eleven is open now.

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Jeremy Tritchler – “Discovering the Trade, Art, and Mystery of 18th-Century Cabinetmaking”

Many of us, like author Jeremy Tritchler, were fortunate enough to experience the excitement of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia as young children. “I don’t remember much of what we did,” he notes wryly, although the cannons and fifes-and-drums corps left a lasting impression. But years later, after initially pursuing a career in geology, Tritchler decided to trade in his rock hammer and cold chisel for a mallet and bench chisel as a Williamsburg apprentice.

What is it like to serve as a cabinetmaker’s apprentice at Colonial Williamsburg’s Anthony Hay Shop? Is it especially challenging to blend in period-correct hand-tool woodworking with regular visitor interactions? And what are the most important skills to learn? Tritchler brings us through several projects that he’s worked on, from hand-drawing elements of the five orders of architecture, to building his own tool chest, to studying period furniture for replication. He discusses the tools used in the shop as well as the techniques an apprentice must master. 

A modern apprenticeship looks much different than those of long ago, but key similarities remain. One of these is the appreciation for, and respect of, the woodworking traditions and “mysteries” of those who have labored before, with an aim of preserving and passing on that knowledge that has been carried through the centuries. 

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