Being a tad old fashioned in many respects, I need a physical piece of paper to read and write on when editing, revising and annotating “To Make As Perfectly As Possible: Roubo On Furniture Making,” or as we call it here, R2 (as opposed to a local luminary, RG3). I am nearing the three-quarter mark of working my way through the raw transliterations for the first time as a serious venture, as opposed to the merely voyeuristic jaunts as they would arrive from translator Michele Pagan.
Today I printed out the final chapter of R2, titled whimsically (?) by Roubo as “Of Whole Cabinetry or Assembly in General,” which is another way of saying, “All the stuff about furniture making that I could not figure out where else to put.” To suggest that this single chapter is eclectic and substantial is to damn it with faint praise.
I generally format these working manuscripts to approximate the finished size of the printed book; not exactly, but it does give me a sense of the immensity of the tome. I will probably avoid contact with John Hoffman when the day arrives for him to start mailing a mountain of books twice as hefty as the 4-1/2 pound R1.
Among my 258 pages (!) of working manuscript for this chapter alone are included the odd mix of discussions on tools necessary for accurate assembly, making and using spring-pole lathes, screw-thread cutting, fluting of columns, drilling, making and using a ripple molding cutter, locksmithing, filing, hinge-making, tilt-top tables, building a printing press, the renowned folding book stand, and the design and construction (but not use) of a fancy French “necessary.” And those are just the topics I can recall off the top of my head.
After the intense run-up to the release of TMAPAP:ROM I had little opportunity to revel in the grandeur of the project. By the time I arrived in Cincinnati for the premier, to paraphrase BB King, the thrill was gone. Chris’ comments of wanting to light it on fire did not miss the mark by much.
Now that R1 is no longer resting on my neck, and believe me it was heavy, I am finding a bit more spring in my literary step.
Yes folks, the thrill is back!
— Don Williams