Blog — The First Three Issues RSS





Going Beyond Observation

How can we begin to make sense of 18th-century ornament? To begin with, we must experience it. Yes, that sounds strange, but in order to gain real insight into these lines, figures, and shapes, we need to go beyond careful observation and recreate them through drawing. As soon as you put pencil to paper, a whole world of detail, previously unnoticed, reveals itself.  Consequently, the same happens once you go from drawing to carving or to careful observation of original objects – the transition from two to three dimensions and from paper to wood is equally revealing. It’s not necessary to draw entire pieces from pattern books. In fact, it’s best not to at first. For more than a decade,...

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Rooted in the Human Body

Nearly all measurement systems (old and new) are rooted in the measurements of the body, known as anthropometric measures. The cause is obvious – when a craftsperson needed to carry a measurement from one piece to another, or remember a length for later use, comparison to a body part was the most accessible means of doing so. There are a few exceptions I know of to this fact. For one, the origins of the meter lie in the decimal-obsessed attempt to arrive at a measure based on the Earth’s dimensions. Cartographers and mathematicians arrived at the meter, which was roughly one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator, measured along the meridian that passed through Paris....

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“The First Three Issues” Has Landed

  At looong last, The First Three Issues, our hardbound republication of Issues 1-3 has arrived from the printer, and holy smokes is it gorgeous. This thing is hefty… heftier than we even envisioned. And in a totally glorious way. The title and wax seal on the dustjacket are embossed (raised) and glossy and pop right off the cover photograph. But Mike C swears the die stamp on the cloth is even more beautiful. In my mind, it’s a toss-up. Either way, this thing is impressive. The book is nearly 500 pages in length and flipping through it is quite an experience. I have to confess that it overwhelmed me to see all that we were able to publish in...

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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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