I’ve always been surprised how hard it is to find Joseph Moxon’s “Mechanick Exercises” in the public domain. A few years ago I stumbled on a link from that HathiTrust and totally forgot about it.
While doing some research on S.W. Silver (makers of campaign furniture), I stumbled on HathiTrust again.
If you don’t have a copy of “Mechanick Exercises,” go here.
The link is for the section on joinery. To download the entire book for free as a pdf, look at the left rail of the page and click on the link “Download Whole Book.” A couple clicks later and the entire “Mechanick Exercises” from 1703 will be on your hard drive, with the plates intact.
A long time ago when I was married, David Charlesworth, Tom Lie-Nielsen and Chris came over for libations. Near the end of the evening, Tom suggested we move the 8′ long Nicholson bench Chris had made into my basement shop. David assured us it would not fit, and to prove his point he walked away when disaster began.
David was right. The bench did not fit, and I had to remove a wall to get it around a corner and into the shop. Fast-forward a number of years and due to some legal issues I was required to remove the bench from the basement. Let me interject that I will never ever have a basement workshop again. Never!
The rebuilt wall was 3″ too wide, and again the bench didn’t fit up the stairs. Because the Nicholson bench doesn’t come apart, I had to saw down the legs. I wanted to destroy the wall again, but with a former spouse videoing the condition of the wall before I got there and having an attorney on speed dial I figured it best to saw. It was so fun cutting some off the legs that I did it again. Seems like the only thing I did right that day was to keep the off-cuts.
Recently, I repaired the bench. The Dominos worked great, although they were a little tricky because the cross members that support the legs prevented me from using the plate to register the cutter. I had to do some exact measuring that didn’t work in one instance. I just glued in a domino then flush-cut it and started again. The mending plates were added for extra strength. All is now right with the world. I have the bench upright and working and converted the dining room into a workshop.
A try-square is not always at hand when it is desired to saw a stick, and when it is handy some mechanics prefer to work by “guess” than otherwise. When a bright, straight saw is placed upon a stick or on the edge of a board, the reflection of the stick or board in the saw
is sufficiently well defined to permit of placing the saw so that the reflected image coincides with the object reflected, forming a continuous straight line. If the sawing is done while the image and the stick are in line, the stick will be cut at right angles.
It is obvious that a line may be drawn at right angles to the stick by arranging the saw as shown in Fig 2. If, after forming this line, the saw be placed across the stick so that the line and its reflected image and the stick and its reflected image form a square, with the
reflected image and the stick lying in the same plane, as shown in Fig. 3, the stick may be sawed at an angle of forty-five degrees, provided the saw is held in the same position relative to the stick.