Good news everyone! The revised edition of “The Art of Joinery” by Joseph Moxon is shipping out from the printer this week. We’ll receive it in Indianapolis (look for rain clouds) and start shipping it immediately.
So if you want free shipping on this book, order now. On Nov. 4, 2013, we’ll start charging $7 a book for domestic shipping.
You can read all the details on this book and order your copy here.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. All of our retailers in the United States and overseas will be carrying this book. If you purchase our books from them, be sure to check in with their web sites.
Whenever I build a workbench, I try to work with stock that is as dry as possible. But I’ve never shied away from wood at 15 percent moisture content (MC). Thick timbers can be tough to dry, and all of the benches I’ve built with slightly damp wood have turned out fine.
Turns out, I think I might be a little too conservative on moisture in workbenches.
When we built the French oak workbenches in Barnesville, Ga., this summer, we were shocked at the moisture content of the timbers. Despite the fact that the trees had been felled for more than 13 years, the numbers on the moisture meters were alarming.
My benchtop was 30 percent MC. Other benchtops were 60 percent MC, which was off the charts for our moisture meters.
But we had only one week to build these benches, and we couldn’t wait another 10 years.
My workbench is still wet by furniture standards. Most areas of the top and legs register about 15 percent MC, and my meter reads only 3/4” deep. My suspicion is the center of my 6”-thick top is much wetter. I suspect this because my holdfasts rust immediately when left overnight in a hole in the benchtop.
Despite all this, the top has not moved significantly enough to warrant a reflattening. Today I planed a bunch of 1/2”- and 5/8”-thick panels and it was clear the top was still in spec for this high-tolerance work.
The only evidence of shrinkage or movement in the top is at one of the four joints where the legs pierce the benchtop. While three of these joints are as perfect as the day I finished the bench, the top has shrunk about 1/32” compared to the dovetail and tenon in the front right corner.
Oh, and there hasn’t been any additional checking, and the single existing check in the top hasn’t increased in length or width.
To be honest, I had experienced more wood movement on Douglas fir and cherry workbenches of the same design.
We will see how the bench fares as it makes the transition to equilibrium MC. But my suspicion is that the thick nature of the timbers and the joinery will help to make a bench that settles in gently.
Now that John Hoffman is working for Lost Art Press full-time, we have been able to do things we never had time for before, such as the deluxe edition of “To Make as Perfectly as Possible.”
But even with both of us working at this business full-bore, there are limits to what two guys with laptops (and zero employees) can do. As a result, we’re making subtle changes to the business that you will begin to see in the books in the coming year.
1. Content delivered in a nice package. For John and me, the most important goal for Lost Art Press is to make books that are useful and worth keeping around for the rest of your life. That said, we have zero interest in creating collectible cult objects.
So while we will make deluxe and standard editions of the future Roubo volumes, we do not plan to repeat this exercise again with other titles. We don’t want to make things that will stay in their plastic wrap or hidden in a safe deposit box. We want people to read our books.
In a similar vein, it is unlikely we will produce leather-bound editions of our titles in the future. We will be happy to help you get your book bound in leather by the artisans at Ohio Book, but producing numbered editions is not something that gets me up in the morning.
2. Signatures. During the last year, we have backed away from offering signed copies of our books. Getting 700 books signed can take a day of administration and travel for both John and myself. I’d rather us spend that time editing, writing or building. I am happy to sign books that I’ve written, but we will not be seeking out signatures of outside authors.
3. Preferential treatment for some customers. We have been asked many times to establish lists of people who will automatically receive every book we publish, or to create a class of customers who are allowed to order before the general public. We have resisted this call for many reasons. First, it is a lot of work to maintain these lists. Second, we simply prefer to keep things simple and treat everyone the same way. It’s one of the guiding principles of the business.
4. Printing quality. This is something that will continue to change – for the better. With every title we publish, John and I learn ways to get better quality books for the same amount of money. A lot of this is about careful shopping or using technology to give us an advantage. It also is the result of us not having much overhead. We don’t have a building, employees or many fixed costs beyond bandwidth for our website.
I’m certain that 99 percent of our customers will support these changes – who doesn’t want better books at the same price? In any case, thanks, as always, for supporting us. We know that you are the reason John and I have been able to quit our jobs and do this full-time. And we hope to do this for many years to come.