The Peg-leg Business

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Looking around at contemporary furniture, one is more and more conscious of how little there is of really pleasant, comfortable attractive design for the ordinary men and women who want just that in their home and can feel no enthusiasm for freakishness or oddity or the bleakness of peg-legs and the like in the furniture they have to live with.

And how utterly bleak those peg-legs will look when the novelty and newness have worn off and only the barren, unimaginative ugliness remains.

— The Woodworker, August 1954

About Chris Schwarz

Publisher of woodworking books and DVDs specializing in hand tool techniques.
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19 Responses to The Peg-leg Business

  1. Fifty-eight years later and the only thing that has changed is that most of the mass produced stuff is of even lower quality. Edmund Burke was right. :) Happy 13.

  2. James Finley says:

    Looks great. How did you do the logo embossing on the front planel?

  3. I am looking forward to seeing this new tool chest in action. Are you going to have a video of it in operation once it is done?

  4. Mike Dyer says:

    Except’in for the half-gloomy philosophy……Hey! Good Job, Dude!

  5. John Vernier says:

    I was at a bit of a loss for a moment visualizing peg-legs (My mind went to pirates), but in fact I recently tossed out an armload of those screw-on legs, orphans of long gone furniture, which had been washing up in a corner of my in-laws’ basement for the last 40 years. And good riddance, I say.

  6. John says:

    Peg legs were often made of good hardwood. I buy a bag of them at the restore for a couple of bucks and turn tool handles. Awls, screwdrivers, chisels, layout knives, great gifts.

  7. John says:

    How do you reconcile that last paragraph with what you find holding up a lot of chairs and stools in the Thos. Moser catalog of offerings?

  8. ScottV says:

    Heheh…the author needs to lighten up.

    I own a few Paul McCobb “pegged-legged” pieces, which is probably the impetus behind the author’s reaction. Although the construction of these factory made pieces is not without fault, they still employ rock-solid joinery techniques (half-blind and sliding dovetails) that have withstood 50+ years of use. The legs however, simply screw on into receiving sockets in a batten. We have a heavy buffet, and I am continually surprised that the six splayed peg legs have held up so well under the weight.

  9. sawdustmaker says:

    Looks Good. I would have chosen a different finish probably a stain and a oil based wipe on oil based finish but I did not make it I was wondering if you are going to use the logo ad a guide for carving?

  10. David Pickett says:

    In 1954, Britain was still suffering the ravages of WW2. Some foodstuffs were still rationed, and decent timber was virtually unobtainable. Home stocks had been heavily depleted for the war effort of both 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 (we still import 90% of our timber today, and will continue to until our forests have regrown in another century or so). The country was almost bankrupt; we were exporting like crazy to earn foreign exchange, and importing as little as possible. Furniture designs were therefore very spare and economical in their use of wood. A lot of furniture had to be made quickly, to make good the losses of the war years, and people wanted something bright, modern and new to lift morale after the Depression years and the drabness of the war years. Another factor was that skilled labour was not available at the low rates of the 1920s and ’30s, so furniture that could be produced fast and cheap by semi-skilled labour took the market.

    Fine furniture was being made (Edward Barnsley, for example), but in very small quantities. Slowly, things have improved a lot on that front, but there is still an awful lot of very indifferent cheap furniture being sold to people who know (and sometimes care) no better.

    I entirely understand why The Woodworker’s editor of the day (Charles Hayward?) wrote what he did, but he was pushing against very strong prevailing economic necessities and social trends.

  11. Very Nice, I like the logo on the front! Is it stenciled on? I understand you are building this to fit a new car. I assume it will lay on its back, Just wondering how will you secure the tools in going form upright to prone?

  12. rmcnabb says:

    …or how much all that high style modern furniture from the 50s will be worth on eBay. Styles change. Beauty is a moving target.

    • sciolist says:

      Ummm, no…? Using that dictum, we would be unable to appreciate the beauty of good design and workmanship in any of the classic furniture styles over the last 500 years. I would agree that ‘taste’ is a moving target. Real beauty should be (and is) eternal.

  13. Caleb James says:

    Will you have plans for this tool chest? I know yours are well thought out. I didn’t really connect with the other tool chest you made (though I made one) but I think this one actually suits the way I store and use and move tools.

  14. Will it also have the logo details? If not hope to get the detaiks

    • lostartpress says:

      It’s a stencil. I made it with a sheet of acetate and a knife. Then I painted red paint on the front with a cheap watercolor brush I stole from my kids’ painting kits.

  15. Arrrrrr, what’s he got against pirates?

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