Every boy ought to know how to drive a nail and saw a board. Somewhere in connection with every well-ordered home there should be a workshop of some sort. An article could easily be written treating exclusively on the advantages accruing from even a slight dexterity in the use of a few tools, and it could easily be shown that these advantages are by no means confined to artisans, but that professional men and men of affairs find healthful exercise, pleasant diversion, and mental discipline “over the bench.”
But omitting all that, we start now with the postulate that a boy ought to have a workshop, and the only question for present consideration is how it ought to be fitted up. As the chief purpose of the boy’s workshop is rather to give the boy plenty of congenial work than for the sake of the work the boy will do, the more of the work of fitting up the shop that is left to the boy the better. We put four “works” in that sentence, and we are glad of it. Happiness depends almost wholly on occupation. Professor Albert Hopkins once gave as his idea of happiness, “right activity.” (more…)
Lots of people ask me what I miss the most about working at Popular Woodworking Magazine. I am supposed to reply: “I miss the people.” But that’s not true.
I miss the fights.
Now, I don’t miss the jerk-won’t-look-you-in-the-eye brooding that sometimes accompanies an office brawl. But nine times out of ten, an honest spat made the end product better. Magazine covers looked better. Techniques were explored deeper. Assumptions were sunk.
Now that I work at home alone, I have tried to maintain that atmosphere by sending out my work to friends, colleagues and people I know who disagree with me for them to look it over. And as always, many of my ideas are vetted first on the blog, where people are happy to take a hatchet to them.
The result is, almost always, a better product.
Last night I pored over my proofs for “Campaign Furniture,” and realized I didn’t like some of the “beauty shots” of the finished furniture. So today I tore apart our house to shoot new photos. And then I sent them to Megan Fitzpatrick for her to assail. Then I took them over again. Sent them out….
This process continued until I needed a beer. Which is right now.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. While all the photographic criticism below is appreciated, it is for naught. The shoot is over. The pages are set.
French architect and designer Jean-Charles Moreux reimagined the Roorkee chair in the 1930s by imposing classical column details to the chair’s turned legs.
Note how the top turnings – once the handle for moving the original design around camp – have been shaped into a classical column, complete with entasis. Other interesting points (from a maker’s perspective):
• The joints are blind instead of through.
• The front legs are asymmetrical, note the top of the leg where the armrest goes.
• The armrests attach with twist-lock fasteners. I’ve seen this detail on some other later versions of this chair.
• The only odd design choice (to my eye) is the gothic lancet arch shape at the top of the rear legs. Combining gothic and neo-classical shapes always looks wrong to my eye.
If you are interested in seeing more photos (or purchasing these chairs), visit the seller’s web site via 1stdibs.
We’ve just received our stock of the “Six Board Chest” DVD I shot with Lie-Nielsen in 2012. It’s my second “long-form” DVD at 120 minutes long and is focused as much on the techniques as the chest itself. And there are mistakes and fixes galore.
This style of chest is one of the pieces in my next book, “Furniture of Necessity.”
The official DVD description:
Six-board chests have been a part of human culture for centuries. And while building them is no mystery, building them quickly and entirely by hand is a window into the pre-industrial woodworker’s mindset.
Constructing a six-board chest is a good introduction to working efficiently with hand tools and quickly understanding that hand woodworking is very dissimilar to machine woodworking. Different things are important. And the order of operations is critical.
In July 2012, I spent a week at the Lie-Nielsen Toolworks shops filming this DVD on building a six-board chest using sugar pine. Like the “Build a Shaker Side Table” DVD, this was shot in real time with me narrating every operation. And narrating every mistake and every fix.
As a result, this DVD isn’t merely about the steps to build the chest. During the 120 minutes I cover stock dimensioning, panel flattening, cutting curves, making rabbets and dado and nails. There’s a bit on miters, hand-cut moulding and milk paint as well.
If you are at the beginning stages of woodworking or switching to hand-tool woodworking, I think you will find this DVD useful.
The DVD also includes a short glossary and a SketchUp file of the six-board chest that illustrates the construction steps.
“Campaign Furniture” is off to the printer, and I have the color proofs sitting at my feet. We’re working on getting the cover to our liking (it’s still rough so be still your sharp tongues) and we have been reaching out to our retailers to see if they would like to carry this title.
When the book is released in early March, here are the retailers that have (so far) signed on:
Also, if you don’t read my blog at Popular Woodworking Magazine, you might be interested in this entry on the Douro chair. The first person to get me access to an original Douro chair gets the first autographed copy of “Campaign Furniture.”