The History of Wood, Part 20


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A Petition for Cruelty-free Hide Glue


Last weekend while lecturing about hide glue to the San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association, one of the members mentioned a disadvantage of my favorite adhesive that I’d never considered.

“I bet the vegans don’t like your glue,” he said.

The statement stopped me dead in my tracks. He was right.

And that is why I am asking for your help to petition both Old Brown Glue and Franklin International (makers of Titebond Hide Glue) to change their manufacturing processes to make and market only “cruelty-free” products.

While I fully recognize you cannot make hide glue without animal by-products, these can be harvested in an ethical manner by using animals that have died of old age or in collisions with automobiles. Another alternative is to adopt the methods employed by the “No-kill Mutton Tallow” industry, namely liposuction.

I am certain that woodworkers would be willing to pay a premium for a glue that sticks well and also results in slimmer, more attractive livestock.


— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Personal Favorites | 10 Comments

Question About ‘The Book of Plates’

lap-roubo-pressmark-1Jason writes: I have a question for you about your announcement of “The Book of Plates.” I have already purchased the first installment that Lost Art Press has published on marquetry, and I plan to get the one on furniture when it comes out. My question is this: Is there more information that can be gleaned from “Plates?” Or would having Roubo 1 & 2 have the same information?

Keep up the good work! I look forward to Roubo 2 and the Studley book (yeah, for French fitting).

Answer: “The Book of Plates” includes all the plates from all of Roubo’s books, which includes architectural woodwork, furniture making, carriage building, marquetry and garden woodwork. So far, we have published most of Roubo’s writing on marquetry. The second book (due early next year) will cover most of his writing on furniture and woodworking tools.

We hope to publish the other books in Roubo’s series, but these translations take many years of effort.

So the primary reason we decided to publish “The Book of Plates” now was so everyone could own the complete set of plates from the entire 18th-century opus.

The second reason is we wanted to ensure that Roubo’s plates could be enjoyed at full size at an affordable price and on quality paper. We printed them at full size in the deluxe edition, but the standard edition has them in reduced size. With “The Book of Plates,” you can easily see all the detail at the scale that Roubo intended. Plus, if you own Roubo in the standard edition or the pdf download, having the book of plates handy in front of you is a great way to absorb the text.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 8 Comments

Install a Half-mortise Chest Lock


Last weekend at the San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association I didn’t have time to install the chest lock on the campaign-style officer’s trunk I built for the organization’s fall seminar.

And so I promised I would post directions from “The Joiner & Cabinet Maker.”

I’m always happy to revisit this particular book because it was such a fun project. Joel Moskowitz at Tools for Working Wood unearthed a very rare copy of this 1830 book that we reprinted. Joel wrote a nice introductory section to the book about woodworking during that period. Then I built the three projects shown in the book.

The pages in the pdf below are what I wrote about installing a chest lock, which is based on the excellent instructions in the original 1830 text.


— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Later this week I will post the other thing I promised to share with the club: A video of how to install corner guards and L-brackets on campaign pieces.

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Kitchen Table Workbench from The Woodworker


There are many ways to get around not having a dedicated workbench. Here are a few:

  1. Some Victorian-era books recommend using a chest of drawers as a bench. Work on the top, store your tools in the top drawers and use the lower drawer to collect shavings.
  2. Last year I built the “Milkman’s Workbench,” a copy of a European commercial bench for the benchless woodworker.
  3. Build a knockdown bench, like the Nicholson-style bench I built this summer using framing lumber.

In 20th-century magazines, one common project was a workbench that was designed to affix to your kitchen table, and here is one from The Woodworker magazine. This version is secured to the table with two clamps that are embedded in the tool tray. Plus it offers an adjustable planing stop.

You can download the article with the link below:

Bench_top for the Kitchen

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. If someone sees a cute glue pot like the one shown in the drawing above, you can sell it to Megan Fitzpatrick, who has a thing for petite glue pots.

Posted in Historical Images, Workbenches | 7 Comments

Inside Roubo’s ‘The Book of Plates’


This week we will put the finishing touches on “l’Art du menuisier: The Book of Plates” and send it to the printer.

It is astonishing to look at all 383 plates (or 382, depending on how you count them). From a woodworker’s perspective, the plates are enjoyable to stare at for hours. André Roubo drew the majority of them himself, so the drawings show the details that a woodworker wants.

(Many times it’s easy to tell when an artist had no woodworking training – the small bits are slightly wrong. Not so with Roubo. Even the screw threads are drawn correctly.)

We have created “The Book of Plates” so everyone can enjoy Roubo’s plates as he intended – printed full-size and on beautiful paper. No matter how you read the text – on your computer screen, in one of our books or even in a translation in a different language – there is nothing like seeing the plates in full-size and at a resolution approaching the 18th-century originals.

In addition to the plates, this new book will contain the first English-language translation of André Roubo’s table of contents for “l’art du Menuisier.” This document is 10 pages long and is a guide to what is shown in the 383 plates. This document has been a guiding light in the translation of these massive woodworking books.

“l’Art du menuisier: The Book of Plates” will feature all of the plates printed full-size on #100 Mohawk Superfine paper, which is manufactured in Upstate New York. After being printed in Michigan, the pages will be sewn and hardbound. This will be a permanent book, even if your dog takes a liking to it.

The book will be $100 and will be available in November. We will offer this book to our retailers, though it is up to each retailer to decide to carry the book.

We hope you will enjoy the book (and we hope a lot of you enjoy the book – we just wrote a check to the printer for more than the value of my first house).

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 4 Comments

Wooden Spoons in The Woodworker Magazine


Now that spoon carving has supplanted pen turning as the latest woodworking craze (and it’s about time), you might enjoy this article from The Woodworker magazine, which was likely written and illustrated by Charles H. Hayward.

Hayward had excellent contacts among British museums, especially the Victoria and Albert Museum. So the magazine is peppered with his drawings of early work, including this collection of interesting wooden spoons.

I’ve not been bitten by the spoon-carving bug, likely because of a psychic scar.

During my first few months at Popular Woodworking in 1996, one of the other editors was carving Celtic love spoons; I decided I would like to learn to make one, too. After half a day of work on my love spoon, I showed it to him to get some feedback and tips.

“Oh wow,” he said, holding my spoon. “I really am a good carver. Your spoon sucks. You’re fired.”

He gave the spoon back to me and walked away. I threw my spoon in the garbage.

You can download the one-page article in pdf format using the link below.


— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Historical Images | 9 Comments