The Road to a Moxon Revision


Getting through U.S. Customs Saturday was a harrowing experience. I was certain they would pull me aside and go through my luggage because my declaration card was filled with red flags I’d gathered during my three weeks in Melbourne, Australia.

I always err on the side of declaring everything – everything, even breath mints – when I pass through immigration. Honesty is so much easier than trying to hide a backsaw in a body cavity.

So my declaration card included:

• Old tools with wooden components.
• Random chunks of timber, some with bark.
• Lots of expensive and pointy bits of stuff.
• Bizarre Australian candy for the kids.
• Antique Japanese paring chisel with a rosewood handle.

When it came time to go through my luggage, the Customs officer didn’t give a second look at the tools, timber or other pointy bits. It was the candy that received the scrutiny. Some of the wacky sweets looked like bananas. Fruit and meat are a no-no. After the “bananas” were determined to be completely artificial, I was free to go.

After a big sigh of relief, I sprinted to catch my connecting flight.

Of all the stuff I brought back, the biggest treasure is five small sticks of King Billy Pine (Athrotaxis selaginoides) I picked up from toolmaker Chris Vesper. It’s a slow-growing and endangered species from Tasmania that has a long, fragrant and storied history in the history of the region. It’s a protected species and difficult to get here. These sticks were acquired entirely ethically.

I got just enough to build two Roubo try squares. One of them will be part of my payment to Wesley Tanner for redesigning our revision of Joseph Moxon’s “The Art of Joinery” with my commentary.

“The Art of Joinery” was the first Lost Art Press book and is now out of print. This year we’re reissuing the book, which will be expanded to include the following parts:

1. The text from Moxon’s writing on the art of joinery which has been lightly “translated” by me to make it easier for the modern reader to digest. Most of the “translation” consists of removing the long “s” from the words and breaking up some long sentences with semicolons.

2. The “translated” text will have some commentary from me and the engravings from Moxon’s book placed in situ – e.g. the image of the chisel will be next to the chisel.

3. The original text, untranslated and with all its 17th-century peculiarities. The text will be entirely reset in a font picked by Wesley. We’re adding this section to the book because several readers complained that they really really really wanted the source text without any commentary. There were also grumblings that my light “translation” was like rewriting the King James Bible in the voice of Austin Powers.

4. We’ll be offering the whole book in either cloth or leather bindings, plus in ePub and Kindle versions.

Work is proceeding on the book, and it should be out by the end of the year.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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16 Responses to The Road to a Moxon Revision

  1. Mark says:

    Thanks for the heads-up. I missed out on the bound version and though I have the PDF I’d really prefer the physical book. It’s one of my dinosaur traits. Which is strange since I’m not old.

    And I sure wasn’t going to shell out $400+ on Amazon…

  2. Any plans for release in the UK?

    • lostartpress says:

      As always, our books are available to all our suppliers, including Axminster and Classic Hand Tools UK. It’s their choice as to whether they carry a title — not ours.

  3. Tom Pier says:

    Candy for the kids and a paring chisel for your wife, well done.

  4. Marlon says:

    yahoo he’s home! Time to lose that accent you picked up down under. AND…I like the idea of you putting the Moxon book back out there. I re-read the pdf file I have all the time and make mental bookmarks. At least with a hardcopy I do don’t just have to be mental with it. Oh wait..that didn’t come out right.

  5. Graham Burbank says:

    better check your plane blades..ty’s been fooling around with ’em. Something about leveling the driveway…

  6. Geoff says:

    With my recent visit to Kentucky from Australia, I also shipped back to Australia sticks of wood in the form of Curly Maple. I’m not sure why this happens, is it because it is exotic and the story behind the sourcing and transport makes it more interesting, or is it because we a trying to reflect another culture?
    Whatever it is, in the words of the Rolling Stones “No, you can’t always get what you want, But if you try sometime, you just might find, You get what you need”, and maybe that’s enough and we don’t appreciate what we have.

  7. robert says:

    Surely you must be kidding about importing that wood, you wouldn’t want to run afoul of the Lacey Act like Gibson Guitar.

  8. burbidge says:

    I’m surprised they let those ‘bananas’ through. They are a product with a half-life, rather than an expiry date, and should have sent the off the Geiger counters at US Customs.

    Remember to serve them with red cordial!


  9. Chuck N says:

    The Moxon text unmutilated (jk)?

    At last Stephen Sheperd will be happy (-er or -ish).

  10. Steven Davis says:

    Very exciting to see this coming back into print. I picked up the PDF having missed the print version as well.

    Perhaps a companion video as well?

  11. Ed S. says:

    Here’s my Customs story:
    13 years ago was returning from a long European trip with spouse thru Dulles (Washington DC). 6 bags (3 HUGE duffel bags, smaller suitcase, two ski boot “backpacks”). Got pulled for an Ag Dept inspection – officer asked if he could search and did we have anything that we didn’t declare (asked us about 4 times). Nope, nothing that’s not listed. Told him to have at it . He went directly for my wife’s ski boot backpack – searched it 3 times but found nothing. He looked like Christmas had been cancelled.
    About a week later, we figured out why we were picked: we had had 3 sausages in the outside pocket of the bag and the smell must have permeated the fabric. The poor Beagle sniffing the luggage must have gone nuts! But the sausages were long gone – only the smell remained.

  12. Lee Laird says:


    Hope you had a great trip. Any chance we’ll see a photo of your newly acquired Japanese paring chisel? It sounds really cool!



  13. Glad you’re back and didn’t have to endure any prodding of your fleshier cavities by Customs. Can’t wait to get my hands on your new edition of Moxon’s work. Will shipping be less because the book will contain fewer s’ ?

    Quick question, Woodwork Joints by Charles Hayward, heard you might have gotten/be getting rights to it. If so, when can we hope to see it released? Will gladly give somebody’s arm and a leg for that one.

  14. Lance says:

    “rewriting the King James Bible in the voice of Austin Powers.”
    When will that be coming out? Can we pre-order? 😀
    I wonder if I could get our pastor to use it for a sermon or two?

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