Design Under Duress

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Building a project in front of an audience is one thing. Designing it and building it on the fly is enough to drive me to drink.

Earlier this year I did a two-day seminar for the Alabama Woodworkers Guild where I designed and built a six-board chest. While I usually do a lot work beforehand for classes, I was in the final stages of editing “Campaign Furniture” and was a bit task-saturated. Here was my prep work for that class: I threw some boards and tools into my truck and drove south.

Luckily, I’ve built a lot of six-board chests, and the resulting piece turned out well. In fact, I like this particular chest so much that I’m using it in “Furniture of Necessity.” As a result, I had to create a SketchUp drawing and cutting list after building the project.

As I was drawing the chest yesterday, I was amused to see that I had fallen into using some typical ratios while designing the project, even though I didn’t use dividers or a tape measure. I just looked, marked and cut. It really was “By Hand & Eye.

The elevation of the case is 3:5, one of my favorite ratios. And the ends of the carcase – minus the legs – are 1:1, which is what I almost always use for my tool chests.

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While these ratios make the chest’s appearance simple, they complicate the cutting list. If you have ever developed a cutting list from an antique piece of furniture, you probably asked yourself: “Why did they use these odd measurements?” You can chalk up the weird measurements to wood movement or the metric system, or you can realize that perhaps they weren’t measuring as much as we measure.

Here, for example, is the cutting list for the chest as built:

Six-board Chest Cutting List, Furniture of Necessity

No.    Name        T  x  W  x  L
1    Lid        3/4  x  14-3/4  x  35-1/8
2    Battens    3/4  x  1-5/8  x  14-3/4
2    Front/back    3/4  x  14-1/4  x  33-3/8
2    Ends        3/4  x  14-1/4  x 19-1/4
1    Bottom        3/4  x  12-7/8  x  32-3/8
1    Moulding    5/8  x  1-1/4  x  33-3/8
4    Feet        5/8  x  5  x  7-3/8

Yeah, I know. This cutting list could be simplified to use some rounder numbers. Or you could make this mental leap: There is no difference between hitting 35-1/8” or 35” or 35-7/64”. They are all numbers that are available to us.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Furniture of Necessity | 2 Comments

New in the Store: ‘The Book of Plates’

BOP_1000To ensure you can receive “l’Art du menuisier: The Book of Plates” in time for Christmas, we are taking pre-publication orders for this book and offering free domestic shipping until Nov. 19, 2014.

“The Book of Plates” goes on press tomorrow, Oct. 24, but because the book is oversized, the pages have to be trucked to a separate bindery, which is experiencing delays. Because of this unforeseen event, the book will not ship to our warehouse until Nov. 19.

To make sure all Christmas orders go out as quickly as possible, we are now taking orders for the “Book of Plates.” This will give us time to prepare all the shipping labels and custom boxes for the books beforehand. All orders will be shipped in the order they are received.

Pre-publication orders will receive free domestic shipping. After Nov. 19, shipping will increase to approximately $10.

You can place your order here.

If you haven’t heard about the “Book of Plates,” here are the details:

“The Book of Plates” contains every single gorgeous illustration from all of the volumes of André-Jacob Roubo’s “l’Art du Menuisier,” the most important woodworking book of the 18th century. All the plates are printed full size on #100 Mohawk Superfine paper – the best paper available today.

The book itself is 472 pages long and measures 10” wide, 14-1/4” tall and 2” thick – a sizable chunk. It will ship in a custom-made box. The price is $100.

As with all Lost Art Press books, “The Book of Plates” is produced entirely in the United States. It is hardbound, casebound, with sewn signatures and a cloth cover. The book is designed to outlast us all. The plates were scanned from 18th-century originals at the highest resolution available and are printed at a linescreen that will produce the maximum detail possible for the paper and press technology.

“The Book of Plates” is an intoxicating look at 18th-century work, everything from furniture to architectural woodwork, carriage-making, marquetry and garden woodwork. Roubo’s volumes are still the legal standard when it comes to the craft of woodworking in most of the world.

Even if you never buy one of our translations of Roubo’s text, “The Book of Plates” will inspire you (for many years we owned two copies of Roubo with only a passing knowledge of French). And if you read Roubo in the original French, German or one of our English translations, having the full-size plates in front of you makes a huge difference.

In addition to containing all 383 plates from “l’Art du menuisier,” we have included the first English translation of the table of contents for the books, which serve as a guide to the plates. This table of contents is 11 pages long and is a roadmap to the contents of every plate. There also are short essays from Don Williams, our partner in translating the text, and Christopher Schwarz, the publisher.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 5 Comments

Hooded Sweatshirts Back in Stock

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Lost Art Press sweatshirts with the hand-lettered logo are back in stock and ready to ship immediately.

These midweight American Apparel sweatshirts are available in sizes small to XXL. The price is $45 (XXLs are $1 more). Some customers have reported the sweatshirts are a bit snug. So before you order, check out this sizing chart for this particular sweatshirt. If in doubt, order one size larger than you typically wear.

In my personal experience, American Apparel sweatshirts loosen up over time, becoming a little more baggy than when new (just like me!).

We’re going to keep this sweatshirt in stock as best we can through the winter months. Order early, however, to avoid delays and disappointment.

See the sweatshirt in the store here.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Products We Sell | 2 Comments

An Aumbry for ‘The Furniture of Necessity’

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I am finally – finally – getting my butt in gear on “The Furniture of Necessity,” building the projects for my next book.

The most recent project has been this aumbry. What’s an aumbry? If you don’t follow my blog at Popular Woodworking Magazine, here’s the shorthand. An aumbry is an early case piece used to store food, books or anything of value.

You might argue that aumbries are only for holding the sacrament in a church, but you’ll have to talk to Victor Chinnery about that. (See also: Misnomers, Bible Boxes.) My interest in the aumbry stems from the fact that the form evolved into many pieces that we use today: bookcases, cupboards, armoires and the lowly kitchen cabinet.

Oh, and aumbries are dang fun to build.

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In essence, an aumbry is nailed together and features some gothic tracery on the front. The tracery is not merely decorative. It allows air to circulate inside the carcase.

The piercings were covered with cloth on the inside of the case to keep the bugs away. My guess (and the guess of others) is that the cloth would have been undyed linen, which is made from flax.

This aumbry was made from off-the-rack quartered and rift oak. The finish is boiled linseed oil, a wee bit of varnish and brown wax. The hardware is from blacksmith Peter Ross. If you are going to build one of these for yourself, you might want to drop Peter a line now to get in line for the lock, H-hinges and nails needed to build the piece.

All the hardware is secured by clenched wrought nails. It’s a fun way to install hardware (if you like driving while blindfolded).

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I haven’t installed the linen yet; I’m waiting until after a photo shoot next week. While I wait, I’ve been sketching up the drawings for the plate for this project and other plates in “The Furniture of Necessity.” The engraver is going to make these look very nice. So ignore my pixels.

The next project for “The Furniture of Necessity:” Welsh chairs. I can’t wait.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Posted in Furniture of Necessity, Projects | 9 Comments

The History of Wood, Part 25

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Image | Posted on by | Tagged | 2 Comments

Friday: A Tantalizing Peek at the Studley Tool Chest

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Most of the verbiage I’ve read about the H.O. Studley tool chest has been misleading, candy-coated or just silly. I can say this because I’ve spent the last five years embedded with Don Williams, the author of our forthcoming book “Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of H.O. Studley.”

Thanks to the scholarship of Don and his research assistants, we now have a clear(er) picture of Studley and the history of his chest and workbench.

For the first look at some of the real Studley story, I recommend you check out Matt Vanderlist’s blog at “Matt’s Basement Workbench” this coming Friday. Matt was kind enough to do a Skype interview with Don and Narayan Nayar, the photographer on the project.

They chatted with Matt last week while sitting in front of the chest and discussed some of the questions many woodworkers ask: Who was Studley? Why did he build the chest? And what will become of it?

Matt will publish the full 30-minute interview on his blog for free this Friday. Those who support Matt as a Patreon will also get a (very) cool segment we did on the workbench with Narayan manning the camera.

Go there on Friday!

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Virtuoso: The Toolbox of Henry O. Studley | 3 Comments

Suzanne Ellison’s ‘L’art du corbeau’

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If we planned to market “L’art du menuisier: The Book of Plates” to a second genus, it would likely be to the Corvus of the world – the crows. Not only do these birds appreciate shiny objects, but they have been observed both using and making tools (unlike some members of online forums).

Suzanne “Saucy Indexer” Ellison has been spending her free time transforming pre-press proofs of “The Book of Plates” into an art project. Here are her latest images.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Posted in Personal Favorites, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 17 Comments