“You can never have too many clamps,” the old adage goes. And it seems that this universal truth dates back well over a thousand years. Norse Vikings were a dominant force on both land and sea, and the majestic lines of their hand-hewn ships still inspire awe today. The construction of these vessels required great skill and mastery of tools (especially the axe) and raw materials, but it also necessitated the invention of a “third hand” to secure planks to the hull for riveting. The simple, elegant design of the Viking clamp was the result.
We are living in unique times, with the specter of global pandemic changing the way that many of us view life and casting new light on the everyday things that are often taken for granted. But trying times are nothing new within the march of human history. As woodworkers, we’ve often found solace at the bench.
For the Issue Nine examination, we’ll take a closer look at a well-preserved 19th-century New England classic. The Salem-type rocking chair was the forebear of the widely popular Boston rocker, and shows its Windsor roots proudly. Likely built in an early factory setting, this particular example features many interesting tool marks that shed light on the workflow of the maker, as well as an updated paint job as the Hitchcock-style black paint and bronze stenciling became popular. This chair has endured through many New England winters and still offers the best seat on a shady porch during a summer’s evening.
Issue 9 T.O.C. – "Iterative Design in Vernacular Workholding; or A Dumbhead’s Guide to Holding Stuff” – Joshua Klein
There is no more evocative symbol of vernacular woodworking than the humble shaving horse. Commonly found in barns or front porches in much of the Western world until quite recently, this foot-powered workholding vise allows for efficient use of the whole body in shaping, rounding, and peeling stock with a drawknife or spokeshave.
Born in the early 18th century, Cesar Chelor lived in Wrentham, Massachusetts, working as the enslaved apprentice to the first documented planemaker in the colonies, Francis Nicholson. In that time of immense civil and cultural upheaval, Chelor’s skill and ingenuity at the trade elevated him into the upper echelon of period toolmakers.
This is part of a blog series revealing the table of contents of upcoming Issue Nine. 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 Nine is open now through August 28th. ___________________________________ “Making an Icon Panel” – Symeon von Donkelaar How do you embody the sacred with common, everyday elements? Using carefully gathered materials – pigments of various hues from the earth, winter-harvested lumber long dried in the attic – author and iconographer Symeon van Donkelaar brings us through the process of creating religious icons, in a tradition that has been passed down through millennia. “Traditional icons are...
In 2019, U.K.-based studio craftsman and author Abdollah Nafisi joined 5 other artisans in exploring the ideologies and innovations of the Arts & Crafts Movement for a BBC television series. For Issue Nine, Nafisi recounts his experience of recreating William Morris’ iconic Sussex chair for the series, utilizing only hand tools.