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Not Normal Times: An Update on “The First Three Issues”

Back in June, our massive hardbound republication of Issues One through Three went to the printer. The files were promptly approved, and the book went to the press without hitch. But behind the scenes of book manufacturing is always a complicated matter. There’s back and forth with our printer and the press team. We sometimes get pulled into their discussions about the optimal way to make our books, but most of the technical discussions are handled for us. On our end, for the most part, things feel pretty seamless. Then, in normal times, the books arrive at our storage facility six to eight weeks later via freight truck. These are not normal times.  If you read the Lost Art Press...

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Workbenches & Staked Furniture

Roman workbenches belong to a class of furniture that historian Victor Chinnery called “staked” or “with stake feet.” Essentially it is a platform of thick wood with legs driven into the plank, like tent stakes. The staked feet make construction a cinch (bore holes, drive in the legs and wedge them). But what is more interesting to a workbench nerd such as myself is the benchtop itself.   First off, it’s low. The benchtop is right below your kneecap. There are no vises, but there is a series of holes bored into it. The pattern of holes seems random at first, but after working with these benches for several months the holes began to make sense. Some of the holes restrained...

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To Further Complicate the Matter

In many respects the “conservation ideal” is contained in the Code of Ethics for the American Institute for Conservation, an organization formed to promote the knowledge and practices of the profession. Quoting from the code: “Conservation of historic and artistic works is a pursuit requiring extensive training and special aptitudes. It places in the hands of the conservator cultural holdings which are of great value and historical significance. To be worthy of this special trust requires a high sense of moral responsibility. Whether in private practice or on the staff of an institution or regional center, the conservator has obligations not only to the historic and artistic works with which he is entrusted, but also to their owners or custodians,...

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Speed is But One Consideration

Would you say hand tools are slower than power tools?  That is totally dependent upon the “programming” of the operator. A person using hand tools can produce a piece of furniture just as fast, if not faster, than a person using power tools provided that the wielder of the hand tools thinks the appropriate way. There is virtually no need to four-square boards for the hand-tool woodworker; we just make a reference edge and face before making the other side look “good enough.” We don’t have to make test cut after test cut to set up a router table; we grab a molding plane with the shape coded in and go to town. If your try plane is appropriately sharp...

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Three-Legged Chairs

One example that often puzzled people is the three-legged turned chairs that we see frequently in Dutch genre paintings of the 17th century. There are many of these chairs surviving in English collections, some quite elaborate, some fairly simple. The principal feature is a board seat secured in grooves plowed in the seat rails. For this sort of seat to work, the rails have to be at the same height, unlike a woven chair seat in which the side and front rails are staggered. In the board-seated chairs, the seat rails intersect inside the chairs’ posts. Often there is a rectangular tenon that is pierced by a round turned tenon. Some chairs have large and small turned tenons. There are...

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Recreating the Parson’s Card Table

My 4 tooth-per-inch rip saw can move through 1″ pine at a rate of about 1″ per stroke. For the 3' rip cut I had to make, it took fewer than 40 rapid strokes to get my piece – about 30 seconds of work. I have found it much more efficient to stay a healthy 1/8″ off the line and cut very quickly rather than obsessing over accuracy. Slightly wandering lines can be leveled in only a couple passes of a heavily set fore plane. In my experience, this is much faster than ripping to precise tolerances.  The adjoining short rail pieces were ripped as one long piece and, with the rear rail, were prepped in the same manner as the...

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“The First Three Issues” Now Available for Pre-order

For those of you who have been dying to dig into Mortise & Tenon Issues One, Two, or Three but have been unable to secure a copy of from the original printing, today’s your day. As I discussed on Monday, we have decided to republish all of these articles in a one-volume hardbound book we’re calling, The First Three Issues. The pre-order window is now open. We had Issue One in stock until early 2019, and when we announced our inventory was running low, the remaining supply depleted rapidly. Then Issue Two sold out later that year. Since then, we’ve had no option for folks to get either of these issues. Being a print-only publication has its disadvantages: massive printing...

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Coming Soon: Issues 1-3 Hardbound Book

We’ve waited a while to make this announcement, but now that Issue Three is completely sold out of our store, we’re letting you know about our upcoming book release: a hardbound republication of Issues 1-3. We will include every single page of those three issues in the book, but this is not a simple reprint. This book – titled The First Three Issues – includes behind-the-scenes photographs and stories as well as additional essays from M&T editors Michael Updegraff, Jim McConnell, and me about M&T’s distinctive vision and role in the woodworking community. On top of that, Christopher Schwarz of Lost Art Press (does he even need an introduction?) has written a wonderful foreword. Chris was the first person I consulted...

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