Plans are afoot to build a woodworker’s shop at Old Sturbridge Village. A commitment to craft has long been central to the museum’s mission to recreate a New England community of the early 1800s. Today visitors can see a potter, printer, tinsmith, blacksmith, shoemaker, and cooper in action, and during the early years of the Village, which opened in 1946, cabinet- and chairmakers demonstrated there as well. However, in the mid-1980s, financial pressures and retirements of key craftsmen brought an end to the interpretation of the furniture trades. Now thirty years later, new research on the prominence of cabinetmaking in the Sturbridge area has revived interest in representing the craft to the public.
Double-iron planes. Few tools in the woodworker’s repertoire have inspired as many debates among pundits, armchair craftsmen, and makers. Some argue that the best way of dealing with difficult and figured grain is to use a single iron, steep bed angle, and tight mouth. Others disagree, singing the praises of this “new” 18th-century plane technology.
What we call “green woodworking” today carried no such particular distinction, historically – the work of vernacular woodcraft naturally began with the tree in the forest. Join author Michael Updegraff as he looks at the close connection that makers of the past had with the raw materials they worked, and the practical benefits that can be gained today by approaching wood not just as a dimensioned-and-dried material to be purchased at a lumberyard or home center, but as the living thing that it is.
We are announcing one Issue Six article each weekday until pre-orders open on February 1st. If you don’t already have a subscription and just wanted to order a copy of Issue Six by itself, you may do so on February 1st. If you signed up for an auto-renewing yearly subscription, your card will be automatically charged exactly 365 days from your original purchase date. Any questions about your subscription status can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sometimes a chair is more than a chair. Sometimes, it makes a statement about time and place that transcends the substance of humbly painted wood. Author Nathaniel Brewster takes a look at such a chair - an 18th-century New England Windsor that he affectionately dubs “Henry.” As he...
The joy of working wood with simple tools should display itself in what is made. This is certainly true in the case of Swedish slöjd practitioner Jögge Sundqvist. He began carving beautiful, whimsical, and practical wooden objects under the tutelage of his father Wille, and today teaches the craft all over the world.
There is a common perspective in the West that finds a sense of mystique hovering over Japanese woodworking tools. The differing techniques needed to master their use (from the way a tool is held and pulled across a board, to the process of sharpening hollow-back, laminated irons) only serve to increase the intimidation factor for those of us saturated in the Western tool tradition. But author Wilbur Pan throws open the curtains to take a matter-of-fact look at what truly makes Japanese tools different – and how they might share more commonalities with traditional Western tools than you might think.
Every piece of period furniture is alive with story, and we love to crawl under tables, pull out drawers, and look at all the hidden surfaces to learn what they have to say. There are always messages to be found, written in tool marks, layout lines, and even scrawled with pencil or chalk. In Issue Six, we will be examining an early-19th-century Pennsylvania hanging cupboard. This lively piece is noteworthy for both its fanciful decoration and its vernacular construction.
The philosophies of legendary artisans William Morris and George Nakashima might appear to have been formed from vastly differing life experiences, but the two men shared many striking commonalities. Author and woodworker David Lane takes a deeper look into the lives of these makers, and to the influences that called them to revolutionize the craft landscapes of their respective eras. Even as they lived and worked in different centuries, they found inspiration in fascinatingly similar places, and built their legacies around a common reverence of skilled craftsmanship.
Boring an accurate hole is one of the most basic skills in furniture making, but how was it accomplished before the era of the factory-produced twist bit and electric drill? Author Joshua Klein tackles this question as he delves into the world of wooden braces, often called “bitstocks.” Until metal braces became popular after the industrial revolution, a wooden user-made bitstock was the most prevalent boring tool among woodworkers – wielded by chairmakers, coopers, and cabinetmakers for centuries.
As you may have seen in our blog post yesterday, our preparations for the release of Issue Six are beginning to pick up steam. If you’ve followed us for any amount of time, you know that with each new issue release comes the Mortise & Tenon Packing Party! Folks from all around come to the shop for a couple days’ worth of working together – we wrap each issue of the magazine in brown paper, apply a trade card with wax seal, and place it into a mailer with fresh pine plane shavings. The work itself has become almost secondary to these events, honestly – I can’t tell you how much inspiration and enthusiasm we’ve felt by getting to know...