Blog — Issue Ten RSS





Designed to Disappear

The driving of a nail is a vivid illustration of the kind of skill and agency that is often underappreciated in our time. No one comes out of the womb able to swing 16 ounces of steel on the end of a stick to a precise location with a precise amount of force. This is an acquired skill that, once gained, becomes a mindless and simple task. When a confident craftsperson is absorbed in hammering, there is no consciousness of the features and characteristics of the hammer. The only thing that would bring attention to the tool itself would be if something went wrong ­– the head came loose, the board split in a weak spot, etc. When all is...

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Patience and Sandpaper

And how, it will be asked, are these products to be recognized, and this demand to be regulated? Easily: by the observance of three broad and simple rules:  1. Never encourage the manufacture of any article not absolutely necessary, in the production of which Invention has no share. 2. Never demand an exact finish for its own sake, but only for some practical or noble end. 3. Never encourage imitation or copying of any kind, except for the sake of preserving record of great works. I shall perhaps press this law farther elsewhere, but our immediate concern is chiefly with the second, namely, never to demand an exact finish, when it does not lead to a noble end. For observe,...

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The Results are Not Assured

In celebration Pye Day, we are sharing this excerpt from an article about the replication and use of David Pye’s idiosyncratic “fluting engine.” … Using the tool is an exercise in combined precision and randomness. With every different intended design, there are variables that change the use of the machine and its setup in some way or other. And once everything is working the way it is supposed to, every rotation of the turntable feels risky. Will each of the supposedly controlled strokes do what you want? Will the wood cooperate (as some grain patterns in the wood deflect the cutter a little and other areas are prone to tearing out)? Will the pattern you’ve established on the previous rotation...

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The Stones of Venice

We've been on a bit of a John Ruskin kick lately. In Issue Ten, we printed an excerpt from his classic work, The Stones of Venice, in which he extols the virtues of free workmanship. The opening spread of that article (titled "Savageness") might be my favorite ever. As I wrote in the introduction to that excerpt, Ruskin's impact on the world would be hard to overstate. As a brilliant thinker, social critic, and art scholar, Ruskin's ideas shaped cultural reforms in England, India, France, and many other places.  I managed to track down a beautiful, complete set of The Stones of Venice on eBay for less than $50. This is an 1886 edition, published by George Allen. Allen was an early pupil and friend...

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The Best One Yet

  Whenever Mike and I are asked about upcoming issues, we try to contain our enthusiasm so as not to oversell our products. But we are usually so excited about the upcoming material because we bust our butts trying to make each issue even more refined, fascinating, and beautiful than the last. We are constantly honing the variety of skills it takes to bring this magazine into being. It seems like each time we discuss the latest issue on our podcast, we end up saying this one is “the best one yet.” The temptation is so strong that we’ve even made a rule for ourselves to refrain from that particular phrase so as not to tire our readers. With Issue...

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Podcast 24 – Our Tools Shape Us

Mortise & Tenon Magazine · 24 – Our Tools Shape Us   In this new episode of our podcast, Joshua and Mike discuss the idea that “we shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us” – the very theme that runs through Issue Ten (which is now officially in the hands of the printer). They look at several of the upcoming articles and discuss how they were impacted by them as they worked through the editorial process. Issue Ten is full of deep, thoughtful reflection on our tools and the work of our hands.  

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Last Call for Issue Ten!

The Issue Ten Cover Design The table of contents has now been fully released and this is the last call for the Issue Ten subscription window! Tomorrow, Sunday, February 28th, is the last day to get in on the big send-out to subscribers. If you want to be in the initial release, make sure you order a subscription here.    The Issue Ten Table of Contents   Will Wheeler - “An Unexpected Gift: Discovering Calm in a Modern Apprenticeship” Jeff Miller - “An Exercise in Precision & Randomness: Replicating David Pye’s Fluting Engine” Al Breed - Book Recommendation Joshua Klein – “Ready Hands: A Letter to My Sons” John Ruskin - “Savageness” George Walker – “A Whisper from the Past: The Lessons...

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Issue 10 T.O.C. – Joseph Brihiez – “Walking with Wood/Se Promener avec Le Bois”

In 2019, we at M&T were given a crash-course in French timber framing when dozens of international carpenters from the Charpentiers Sans Frontières came to Maine to build a blacksmith shop. The art of construction with hand-hewn timbers is closely guarded and preserved in France through traditional apprenticeship models which have been in place for centuries. In Issue Ten, we will hear from author Joseph Brihiez on his experiences as an apprentice to CSF carpenter Loïc Desmonts. 

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