What’s in ‘To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry’?

For those who haven’t been following our saga of the translation of A.J. Roubo’s “L’Art du Menuisier,” here’s a brief description of what Roubo published and our translation efforts.

“L’Art du Menuisier” was a five-volume work written by Roubo, a professional cabinetmaker, and was published between 1769 and 1774 by De L’Academie Royale des Sciences. The five volumes were bound into three books, according to book collectors I’ve talked to. It was reprinted in 1977 in three oversized books.

The five volumes are as follows:

1. Tools and Architectural Woodwork
2. Carriage Making
3. Furniture Making
4. Marquetry and Finishing
5. Garden Woodwork

Our first translated book, “To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry,” will include more than 100,000 words of translated text from the volume on marquetry and finishing. The translated text will include extensive notes from Don Williams. (Read more about the translation process here.) The book also will include essays by Williams that demonstrate the tools and processes shown in Roubo and how they can be accomplished with materials available today.

We are publishing two versions of this book. A glorious oversized edition worthy of the originals that will cost about $400. You can read all about that edition here. That version will be released in March 2013. We also will publish a trade edition of this book that will be physically smaller and less expensive – about $60 – but it will have all of the same words and illustrations as the oversized edition. We will have more information on the trade edition in 2013.

In 2014, we plan to publish our second book, “To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Furniture.” This book will be about twice as many pages as the first book and encompass translated text from the volume on furniture and tools.

Like the book on marquetry, the second book will be published in two versions – a deluxe edition that matches the first deluxe book and a trade edition that matches the first trade book.

We have no plans to translate the sections on architectural woodwork, carriage making and garden woodwork. Feel free to learn French and get busy.

Why are we taking deposits on the deluxe edition of the first book? So we know how many to print. We want to make sure that everyone who wants one will get one. Why do we take a $100 deposit? So we know you are serious. Though woodworkers are generally good customers, we’ve had about a dozen or so welch on us after committing to buy a leather-bound edition.

I hope this clarifies our plans. I know it’s complex, and for that I apologize. But this has been the most complicated publishing project I’ve been involved in during my 22 years in the publishing industry.

— Christopher Schwarz

About lostartpress

Publisher of woodworking books and DVDs specializing in hand tool techniques.
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18 Responses to What’s in ‘To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry’?

  1. Thanks for some clarification — I’m still interested to learn more about what sorts of projects or detail of the topics list, but either way I’ll be getting at least one of the editions of this volume.
    As a Joiner the volume on Architectural woodworking would be and interesting counterpoint to the English books we normally refer to (Moxon, Asher Benjamin, Swan, Halfpenny etc). Too bad I don’t speak any real French. I’m willing to stock up on Jolt Cola and read/edit any/all rough translations of those sections if you find translators with free time on their hands (if there is such a thing) as I spend a lot of time with 18th century buildings and related tools and techniques.

    • Jonas Jensen says:

      I agree with Rainford Restorations. The volume on achitectural woodworkingcould be a blast.
      So if you find yourself idle on a rainy day, this would be a most welcome book.
      Brgds
      Jonas

      • @ Jonas: I’m glad to see others with interest in it as well.
        @Chris — Seriously I really would be happy to help with that volume as its an area of woodworking I am well versed in and quite passionate about. (I know it would be an incredible amount of work, but a worthwhile endeavor for the woodworking community)

      • lostartpress says:

        Jonas,

        Try a “rainy four years.”

        I cannot stress enough that this project was the confluence of many factors that took 200 years to come together.

        I’m not saying “no.” But I cannot say “of course!”

  2. Charles Harris says:

    Will this be available on the kindle?

  3. Floss says:

    Are you including some of the French descriptions of tools and techniques along with the English translation or a glossary of some of the terms?

    F.

  4. William Duffield says:

    Members of my guild are beginning a group build of a reproduction W&M (Bible?) Box, based on Glen Huey’s article in the 10/2009 PW. If I knew how thick the two oversized volumes of Roubo were going to be, I could modify my box’s dimensions to make sure they both fit.

    • lostartpress says:

      William,

      We won’t know the thickness of the Marquetry book until February. And we won’t know the thickness of the Furniture book until late 2013. As soon as we know it, we’ll post it.

      • William Duffield says:

        I understand the unpredictability of this glorious and unprecedented undertaking. I’ll go ahead and start on the reproduction, and try to follow the original as closely as possible. My best guess is the first volume, at least, will fit in the available space, which is a bit more than five inches. When your second volume is done, I’ll put whatever fits into this box, and if necessary, build another matching box to fit whatever won’t.

  5. John Cashman says:

    I apologize for still being a little confused. Your first volume, coming soon — will it be the entirety of Roubo’s fourth volume, on marquetry and finishing? That is, a complete translation? Or are there parts missing? Are there any parts from the other original volumes added to this one? And along the same lines, will your next release be the entirety of Roubo’s volume three on furniture, and the sections from his volume one on tools? Sorry if I’m not clear. At any rate, I am eagerly looking forward to this, and have already sent my deposit. It’s just that I spend far too much time befuddled as it is.

  6. Jerry Olson says:

    Chris,
    Absolutely no apology is required. You are simply using good business practice. Even a frugal Yankee from New England can appreciate the value of the “glorious oversized edition” and your need to manage investment cost. I can’t wait to get my hands on both editions.
    Jerry

  7. Ben says:

    If you have extra leather-bound editions lying around because of welchers, let me know and I might take one off your hands.

  8. mpp1@comcast.net says:

    HI Chris,

    FYI:  I would be interested in doing the translation for the volume on garden furniture, if you can find a curator/writer, to perform the job Don Williams has done for Roubo thus far.

    I leave it to you to decide if there would be sufficient market for such a volume.

    With all best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving,

    Michele Pagan

  9. Tom Dickey says:

    Just to change the mood, what would be the saw cut class in figure 19?

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