Jeff Burks is a finish carpenter, dogged researcher and definitely a member of the “inner circle” of the world’s wood nerds. His healthy obsession with old books and trade magazines in particular has led me down some fun rabbet holes.
And this week, he has done it again with an article called “How to Plane a Piece of Wood,” which was printed in the June 10, 1892, edition of English Mechanic and World of Science and Art and likely penned by Joseph Gregory Horner.
The author of this fantastic piece of writing is one of the “cranky old dudes” who show up in these trade magazines from time to time to show young apprentices how it is done. I love the cranky old dudes (and they love to e-mail me).
So while your boss isn’t looking or you are pretending to listen to your spouse, download this article from Jeff’s web site, carpentryarchive.org.
Here’s the direct link for a pdf that Jeff made: http://www.carpentryarchive.org/files/english_mechanic_1892.pdf
It is, quite possibly, one of the most entertaining articles on planing I’ve ever read, and I’ll bet you a doughnut that you’ll start using the expression “a veritable donkey’s bridge” after you read it.
Thanks to Jeff, who has given me a lot to read this week. More to come, just as soon as I finishing packing these outstanding book orders.
— Christopher Schwarz
16 thoughts on “Planing: A Veritable Donkey’s Bridge”
A rabbet hole? Surely you meant rebate hole….
I like it. As a collector of colloquialisms, this one will be added to the list posthaste. I’ll have to tell the wife of the new addition, but am expecting a reply not dissimilar to that which one might express upon being told of two mules fighting over a turnip.
Victorian perfection, that!
Haha, That’s a pretty hilarious article! So much for positive reinforcement. I guess I am just “go on spoiling stuff for a while” and wait for the master’s next scolding, I mean lesson.
ps. the secretary is looking pretty sweet.
Ditto. The secretary is looking great. Can’t wait for the article.
As a teacher, the article reads pretty funny to me. It seems to come from an era of “tell them” (students) rather than “Let them discover”. Or maybe it is “let them discover”…discover that they’re maggot waste, that is.
Maggot waste? Is that the same as “assistant maggot?”
I probably would have learned how to true a board a lot faster if the author of this piece had “told me” how. “Discovering” it for myself took a very long time.
That’s quite an awesome block of prose- if you pick it apart there is a treasure trove of concepts in there, all the traps for young players. In particular, highlighting the usual mistaken assumptions and misinformation the apprentice would have gotten up until the point that they were ready to learn how from the hands of someone intimately familiar with the task.
The widening of the mouth by the apprentice- surely something that another apprentice told him to do when having problems with chip clearance. “Look at the Master’s plane- his mouth is much wider, so there’s your problem, open ‘er up” without realising the Master’s plane’s mouth is wider not by design but from friction and use.
A very interesting piece, and an awesome writing style!
Those quadrant supports are awesome!
Did you make them?
Nope. Got them through Horton Brasses — they colored them to match the rest of the hardware for the chest. They will do that for anyone.
Those are sweet lookin’. So, how did you cut those arc-shaped dados?
“The British and Foreign Mechanic” – *swells with pride*
“…for the nonce”, “tis”? Did Megan write this “stuff”?
Well, gotta go chalk my straight edge.
I think you misspelled “tirade magazine”.
Thanks for that link! I’ve never heard of chalking a straightedge! Would you do that with a stick of chalk or with chalk dust? (I’m thinking stick, but I’ve been logical and wrong many many times!).
There’s a ton of great information in that article. I suspect I’ll need to read it several times to get it all.
Great looking secretary, BTW! Can’t wait for the article and then the book!
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