When the new book “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree” finally hits the streets, I think its most lasting effect will have little to do with joint stools or trees.
I’ve read this book – front to back – more than nine times now. And already it has changed the way I approach the craft, even when I’m not building joint stools from riven green oak.
I’ll let the authors say it.
“You could use winding sticks for this step, but now we’re in a larger realm. If you can’t see a problem by eye here, then there’s no problem. Don’t go looking for trouble.”
This approach to the craft surfaces again and again in the book. It’s not borne of sloppiness. The goal is to make a stool so well that it does not need glue, it should last through 300 years of abuse and it should still have joints as tight as the day it was made.
The approach of Jennie Alexander and Peter Follansbee is to focus instead on these three things:
1. The fit and mechanical interlock of the parts.
2. The front and visible shoulders of the joints.
3. The overall form of the piece.
If the inside shoulder of a tenon is undercut, that’s OK. If the four stiles (legs) have slightly different turned profiles but look the same, that’s OK. If the assembled frame is slightly out of square but looks square to the eye, that’s OK.
In the end, Alexander and Follansbee strive to create an object that is immensely pleasing to the eye and incredibly resilient to the ages. The micrometers can go home dissatisfied.
I simply cannot wait for this book to be published.
— Christopher Schwarz