We’re just received the laser proofs from our Maryland-based printing company for “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker,” and so we’re still shooting for a late October or early November release date for the book.
Though I need to look closely at the proofs this evening for typos and the like, overall I’m pleased with the way the proofs look. All of the scans we made of original source materials (such as Peter Nicholson’s “Mechanic’s Companion,” “Spons’ Mechanics’ Own Book” and early 19th-century price guides) look great. Whew. I was afraid my $99 scanner wasn’t up to the job. The other news to report is that we have just finished mastering a companion data DVD to the “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker.” This DVD will contain slideshows and highly detailed 3D construction drawings, and it will work in both PC and Mac computers. Here are more details:
There are three narrated slideshows on this DVD that you can play on your personal computer (not on a standard television). Each slideshow is a QuickTime movie (a .mov file) that you can play with a wide variety of free media players available on the Web.
Each of the slideshows walks you through the construction of a project in “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” – the Packing Box, the Schoolbox and the Chest of Drawers. The slideshows include color photos that were not included in the book (for space reasons). I think these are great for visual learners, plus they will give you a good overview of the whole process of building each project, and they help amplify the text in the book.
Also included on this disc are complete SketchUp drawings for each of the projects. These detailed drawings reflect how I built each project and should prove helpful to anyone who wants to become familiar with traditional construction or want to modify the existing drawings to suit their taste.
We’ll be selling this DVD separate from the book for $10. Or you can buy the book bundled with the DVD for $34. And you’ll be able to buy the book alone for $29.
All the people who pre-ordered the book will be given the option to add the DVD to their order (at the bundled price) when the book is in stock.
I guess I should go fetch my dictionary and red pen and get this job done.
Now you can pre-order a copy of “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” signed by me. By pre-ordering the book today for $29 (plus $5 shipping in the United States), you’ll get one of the first copies of this landmark new woodworking book. But, in true Lost Art Press fashion, you will not be charged (or even asked for a credit card number) until the book is available and ready to ship.
Right now we’re making the final arrangements with the printer, but the book is complete and we’re just waiting for some time on a printing press. I’m trying to get back to my normal life, and I’m sure that Joel Moskowitz at Tools for Working Wood is doing the same thing.
If we were dumb enough to conduct a true tally of hours Joel and I spent on this book, plus the money for the wood, hardware, finish, a few critical woodworking tools and scanning services, then our wives would surely ask us to take up a more-profitable sideline, such as selling our plasma.
But believe me, we’re not complaining. This book was tremendous fun for us to piece together, from the very early stages of researching the original text of “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” to the eight full months of poring over old texts, building and writing that followed. The real reason we published this little book is because we were both so excited when we first read the text of “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” that we wanted to share it with other woodworkers who were as enthusiastic about history and hand-tool woodworking as we are. You are the people who sustain us in our day jobs. You buy tools from Joel at Tools for Working Wood and Gramercy Tools. You buy magazines and books from me at Popular Woodworking, Woodworking Magazine and Lost Art Press.
And after many years of working with our customers, we were certain that you would find the contents of “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” as thrilling as a beach novel.
Within this small and obscure 1839 book is the direct evidence for how many day-to-day tasks were executed in an 18th- and early 19th-century English workshop. Told through the tale of a fictional lad named Thomas, it is a remarkable account of many aspects of the apprentice system and how basic skills were conveyed. Here is a sample:
• Dovetailing: See exactly how the joints were laid out, cut and assembled, including 19th-century advice on fitting the joint that should prove helpful to 21st-century woodworkers.
• The basic toolkit: By modern standard, the projects in “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” were built with surprisingly few tools. Discover what the core kit is and how to stretch your tools to accomplish more.
• Case construction and vernacular furniture forms. The three projects presented in “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” aren’t high-style urban pieces. Instead, they are simpler forms with less ornamentation that look surprisingly contemporary. However, the three projects in this book form the backbone of cutting traditional case joinery by hand and are the foundation for every form of furniture, from Shaker to Rococo.
• Tool-buying decisions. Find out how 19th-century craftsmen purchased tools. Did they scrape by and improvise, did they purchase the most expensive tools available or did they perhaps choose a third path?
Is “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” the Rosetta Stone of early woodworking? Hardly. There still are many unanswered questions about how some basic and many advanced operations were performed. The book doesn’t even mention moulding planes or carving, for example.
But this book is an excellent place to begin – both for hand-tool woodworkers who want to commence their journey and for experienced woodworkers who want a sense of how their ancestors were trained to work so productively. Our edition of this book begins with a chapter written by Joel that provides a snapshot of England and the state of woodworking in the 19th century. That’s followed by the original text, which we have reset in a larger font but left otherwise unaltered. Joel has provided footnotes throughout the original text that will help explain the significance of what you are reading. Next are chapters that I wrote that detail how to build the three projects. He also compares the techniques in the book with hand-tool techniques that have either developed since then or simply aren’t discussed in “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker.”
The last section of the book is quite useful. There you will find some conclusions, a chapter on how the different editions of the original “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” were printed and bound, plus a list of other useful books on history and hand-tool woodworking.
We encourage you to read this entire book and attempt to build the three projects using hand tools. That is a tall order, we know. However, building the Packing Box, the Schoolbox and the Chest of Drawers will unlock the basic skills needed for all hand-tool woodworking, and it will offer insights into how traditional, high-quality casework was really built.
Click here to pre-order the book.
Click below to download the Lost Art Press excerpt.
We don’t know who originally wrote the 1839 book “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker.” There’s no author listed anywhere in any of the editions we’ve found. And many long nights of searching Google Books for clues have turned up mostly dead ends.
The reason I have spent hours looking into this mystery is that the book’s tale of Thomas Walters, the joiner’s apprentice, rings true. As if the author had been an apprentice joiner or cabinet maker. And if the author really was an apprentice, then “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” is an even more important book that Joel Moskowitz or I thought.
Managing Editor Megan Fitzpatrick has been copy editing the book for us, and she has a theory about who the author was. Keep in mind that Megan has a William Shakespeare problem, so muddy questions of authorship bring out the Nancy Drew in her.
Megan’s theory: The author was Tredgold, an early 19th-century engineer.
Megan thinks that Tredgold is the author because “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” goes out of its way to praise him as a “very eminent scientific writer.” And then praises Tredgold saying that he had “received no better an education at school than we have supposed our apprentice to have had.” And on and on. Tredgold, Tredgold, Tredgold!
So I decided to sniff down the Tredgold path.
Clue No. 1: Though it’s not mentioned in “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker,” Tredgold’s first name is “Thomas,” the same name as the hero of the book. Coincidence?
Clue No. 2: Tredgold was a carpenter’s apprentice starting at age 14 in Durham, a northern English county that has a history of mining and agriculture. The shop in “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” was also a rural shop.
Clue No. 3: Tredgold was a writer. Among other books, he authored “Elementary Principles of Carpentry,” a landmark volume in the history of construction.
So I was ready to drink the Tredgold Kool-Aid until I looked a little closer. Perhaps Megan has a thing about both Shakespeare and zombie authors. Tredgold died in 1829 – 10 years before the earliest known edition of “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” was published.
While it is possible that Tredgold wrote the book and it was published posthumously, I think it’s unlikely. With our current leads all dead, maybe we’ll break out the Ouija board at our next dinner party and try to solve the mystery.
Like a lot of hand tool woodworkers, I wonder what it would be like to work wood in a time where mastering wood and tools was an essential skill to survival and success. After a few moments of reverie, I quickly thank my stars that I was born in the 20th century.
I am legally blind. Really. My vision is terrible. One time I let my eyeglasses prescription lapse, and then even with my glasses on I was considered legally blind (the diagnosis of the optometrist). Eyeglasses weren’t tolerated in early woodworking shops. Wear glasses, and you were sacked. It was a sign of being old.
When I was 15, I contracted pneumonia. I was so sick that I can remember clutching the rubbery bladder of my water bed (please don’t ask) and wishing I were dead. Had I been born before antibiotics, I probably would have gotten my wish.
I could keep going. When I was a kid, my front teeth stuck out like I was holding two little communion wafers between my lips. I have the upper body strength of a jellyfish. I got chicken pox twice. In other words, Natural Selection has been trying to weed me out of the garden for a long time, and it has only been through the grace of technology that I am still here and able to work wood.
So anytime I start thinking about how cool it would be to live in the time of Duncan Phyfe, I think how cool it is to be breathing right now.
Our new book “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” paints a rather rosy picture of an apprentice’s life in a shop, and co-author Joel Moskowitz has tried to balance it with accounts of how horrible some apprenticeships were.
And I have tried to balance the narrative by remaining alive, even though by the 19th-century perspective, I should be dead or – even worse – the village idiot.