1. All work should be of the best quality.
2. If the old method is best, use it.
3. If the work can be done better by hand, do it that way.
4. Use long and large mortises, and large square white oak pins.
5. Make all joined work to fit perfectly, using drawbore where it is better.
6. Match the color where two pieces come together.
7. Follow the sample strictly. Take no liberties.
8. The hand and mouth do not work effectively at the same time.
9. Keep busy, do your best, and no fault will be found.
10. Let nothing leave your hands until you are proud of the work.
— from “Wallace Nutting, Collector and Entrepreneur” by William Dulaney
13 thoughts on “10 Construction Commandments of Wallace Nutting”
These 10 Commandments should be carved in to stone tablets and stored as sacred in Peter Follansbee’s new tool chest!
Ok my bad: Maybe not stone – Riven Oak…
I can with all honesty and without exaggeration say, these are rules that I live by, but do have to admit that the quiet found in hand work encourages the breaking of rule eight. It is the one I sometimes struggle with.
I wanted to embed an idea better in the above blog post, but I failed. Nutting’s 10 commandments are interesting especially when you consider the man. He sought endlessly to “improve” antiques when he made reproductions, passed off fake ironwork as originals, tangled with Colonial Williamsburg publicly over his poor quality reproductions, on and on.
Woods vs. deeds. Or, to quote “Game of Thrones”: “Words are wind.
It all sounds a bit dogmatic. For example, Rule 1 might be better as “All work should be of appropriate quality”. Also, Rule 8 does not apply at lunchtime. Rule 9, “Keep quiet, do your best, and no fault will be found” is one that by bitter experience, I have found to be untrue..
I agree, particularly regarding Rule 1. I learned working with some really talented finish carpenters and cabinetmakers that the workman who understands the appropriate quality of work to execute for any given task (and can do it) is more respected than the guy who futzes over every detail of every task until it is perfect. This is most relevant to paying work, but I try to follow it in my personal shop time too. I’m a quiet guy so I have no problem with Rule 8!
It seems that there are plenty of dogmatic attitudes regarding woodworking. No doubt other crafts have their share.
How about this: “Remove your ego when you put on your shop apron”.
Rule 11: Never operate the power jointer naked.
Never been a problem for me 😉
The imagination quails to think how you learned that one! 🙂
And since a craftsman endeavors to make all workshop mishaps invisible through the application of clever tricks, the above mishap could be presented as intent by simply changing one’s religion (assuming the offcut was merely superficial).
P.S. The use of the term “craftsman” was not at all politically incorrect given the gender specific issue.
I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for all this important posts and information. You don’t find these in any other mag or blog.
Modern culture quotes in a traditional woodworking blog? I think you had many of the readers puzzled with this one thinking maybe it was some kind of a weird April Fool’s joke.
Rule from a man who knew much about shaping wood with hand tools.
The hole and the patch should be commensurate.
— Thomas Jefferson
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