Important Update on the Studley Book & Exhibit


The throttle on the S.S. Studley Manuscript is as wide open as I can make it, and I am stoking the fire with vigor. Unlike Chris Schwarz, who once told me that a normal day for him includes writing 4,000 words, my full day of working on the “Virtuoso” manuscript for Lost Art Press yields a quarter of that. I am not complaining nor really comparing, just reporting. I am averaging about 3,000 words per week, which means I should have the manuscript roughed out in another two or two-and-a-half months.

It is thrilling to see the book take shape. I do not know how most writers write, I only know how I write. I don’t begin at the beginning and end at the end. Once I create a complete framework, I backfill by writing vignettes as the mood strikes me and then weave them together as I go.

dw_inspecting_studley_chest_L1024073For example, I have finished the Introduction (it describes how the project itself came to be), and the Conclusion (wherein I posit a connection between the ethos of Roubo and the anal-retentive perfectionism of Studley; I know you are shocked by me making that connection!). I have also finished The Catalog of the tool cabinet, well, as finished as I can get it before returning for one last perusal this fall and making one last detailed examination of each tool to make sure I got it all down.

I am working currently on the chapter titled The Saga, which recounts the threads of history binding together the lives of Henry O. Studley, the Hardwick Clan of Quincy, Mass., and the current owner, to whom I have given the pseudonym Mister Stewart. It is a ripping good yarn, but not really a bodice-ripper sorta story… or is it? The way the tool cabinet was transferred down through the stream of time suggests something hinkie was up with somebody. I’m just sayin’.  You’ll have to let me know what you think after you read it for yourself.

A couple other sections are well underway, like the one on the tools made or modified by Studley himself, and Spider Johnson’s contribution on the Masonic iconography in the composition and details.

The last big section remaining for me to dive into is the chapter on the phenomenal workbench and vises, but I tell myself I am leaving the best for last.

Add to that the 1,500 pictures Narayan Nayar has processed thus far, and I am facing an embarrassment of riches for building this book. Once he does his extra special magic for the centerfold images, it will be quite a compelling package. For you photo geeks I will try to persuade him to contribute a brief essay on his work for the book.

This is also a big week in the Studley Universe as at 12:01 a.m. June 1, 2014, the tickets go on sale for the exhibit of the tool collection May 15-17, 2015. More information (and the tickets) can be found at

I cannot deny facing the challenge of this exhibit with some trepidation. Have you ever booked a high-value fine-arts shipper for a dedicated run? Try it some time. It will make that new kitchen seem like a bargain.

— Don Williams,

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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13 Responses to Important Update on the Studley Book & Exhibit

  1. kendewitt608 says:

    looking forward to this book, have the FW poster of it in my shop for years. Also got to see it many years back when it was on loan to the Smithsonian in Wash DC.

  2. cmhawkins says:

    This book will be a great gift to the woodworking community and many others. Many thanks to you and the rest of the folks involved in this labor of love.

  3. Wergeld says:

    Sheer pornography. Can’t wait for the book to come out.

  4. Woodmolds says:

    How about a poster featuring one of Narayan’s photos(or a collage) to promote the event. This would also make a nice wall hanging for those of us who may not get to see the exhibit.

  5. jbgcr says:

    In the online picture of Mr Studley at his bench with the tool chest on the wall beside him there is a plane on his bench probably a no.7 or even a number 8. Seems this would not fit in the chest. Leads to the question – Did he have another chest for more tools?

    • LostArtPress says:

      It’s wooden plane in the photo that is sitting on top of the chest. Probably a try plane.

      Done will definitely address the tool set and the utility of the chest itself. It’s something we’ve wondered about after loading and unloading the tools three times now.

  6. jbgcr says:

    What tool is he using?

    • jbgcr says:

      The poster on the wall above the piano – Eugenie DeLand Statue of Liberty ” Before Sunset ” U.S. Government Bonds World War I Poster

  7. jbgcr says:

    I probably spent too much time studying that picture as it’s a carefully composed image that tells a story and one last question of curiosity – what’s in the cabinet behind him?

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