One of the oddest criticisms I’ve received about the book “Campaign Furniture” is that I’m not British, and therefore have no legitimate connection to that historical style.
It’s true that I am an American citizen – I didn’t have much control about precisely where I emerged from the birth canal. And it’s true that I have a good deal of German blood. My mom could tell you exactly how mongrel (but not mongol) I am.
But I do have a long and personal connection to campaign furniture. As I mention in the book, my grandparents collected pieces in the style. Plus my grandfather and father built pieces in the campaign style. The West home was filled with all sorts of antiques, and many of them were in the campaign style – campaign chests, coaching tables and my grandfather West’s document box.
My mother brought this to me in May for my birthday. It is probably the nicest birthday gift I have ever received. The box is veneered in a tropical hardwood, likely some sort of mahogany, and joined with miters at the four corners.
The inlaid brass is set in beautifully in most places, except for at the back of the box. The veneer on the lid has buckled a bit, which has pushed some of the brasses around.
However, there are two other details that are far more satisfying than the workmanship.
1. The bottom of the box is covered in green felt, the tell-tale sign that my grandparents owned the piece. And the bottom still has the label noting that it belonged to my grandfather. He affixed this label on items that he took to work with him.
2. All the screws are clocked and filed flush to the hardware.
I cannot wait to fill the box with NASCAR stickers and Slim Jims. Cheerio!
…Such are some of the considerations, which show the general utility of scientific education, for those engaged in the mechanical arts. Let us now advert to some of the circumstances, which ought, particularly in the United States of America, to act as encouragements to the young men of the country to apply themselves earnestly, and, as far as it can be done, systematically, to the attainment of such an education.
And, first, it is beyond all question, that what are called the mechanical trades of this country are on a much more liberal footing than they are in Europe. This circumstance not only ought to encourage those who pursue them, to take an honest pride in improvement, but it makes it their incumbent duty to do so. (more…)
My earliest recollections are associated with my father’s workshop. In looking back to the youthful period of life, and the years immediately succeeding, it has often occurred to me that some particulars might be revived, which, in the present day, when the great questions of education, food, and work, are occupying the public mind, would assist in exposing a defect or suggesting a remedy. Perhaps one of the most effectual means of arriving at just conclusions on which to base practical remedial measures, would be to get a number of operatives and artisans to make a clean breast of it—to enlighten the world honestly as to their social economy, their ways and means, sayings and doings.
As soon as I could hold a hammer, the workshop was my chief place of resort after school hours and on half holidays. I had a mechanical turn, and was fond of handling tools, and was brought up to consider myself as destined to become a cabinetmaker, and to plod through life at the side of the bench. For more than twenty years I pursued this calling, never dreaming that any other sphere of existence would open before me. I have consequently mingled much with workingmen, and had abundant opportunities of becoming acquainted with their prevalent habits and modes of thinking. (more…)
Call me sick (or call me “cute as a button”) but I enjoy breaking down rough stock with a handsaw. Part of it is necessity. I don’t have a miter saw, and many boards I work with are outside their capacity in width or thickness.
But more important than the tooling is that handsawing the stock forces me to slow down a bit and it gives me a good feel for how much moisture and tension is in each board. I’ve found some real stinkers when boards tried to pretzel my handsaw or choke it to death.
Today I broke down all the stock for another Dutch Tool Chest. I drive up to Maine on Wednesday morning for a three-pronged mission.
1. Teach a class on building the Dutch Tool Chest on July 5-6.
2. Film a DVD on building the Dutch Tool Chest with the Lie-Nielsen crew the week of July 7-10.
3. Attend the Lie-Nielsen Open House on July 11-12. Both John Hoffman and I will be there with books, T-shirts and Dutch Tool Chests. If you’ve never been to an Open House event, it’s like a huge Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event with factory tours (I tour the factory every time) and a lobster bake. Plus Maine is particularly nice this time of year.
Check out all the people who will be there via this link. Dang. Make your reservation for the lobster bake before July 1 (it’s just $25). The Open House is free and open to the public.
I’ll also be bringing some campaign furniture I’ve built to show off.
If you know what a sharp tool is and you have basic hand-eye coordination, then you have the skills to do basic leatherwork, such as the seat and strap for this folding campaign stool.
This weekend I built a couple of campaign stools – one in mahogany and one in teak. I can’t show you the teak one, though I wish I could. It’s part of a project in its early stages – new turnings and some new hardware. When it’s all worked out, I’ll definitely post it here.
While making the seats for these stools, I filmed a short video of the process to demonstrate just how simple the leatherworking is. Full plans are available, of course, in the book “Campaign Furniture.”
I also added a carrying strap to these stools. It’s a detail that I meant to add to the stool in the book but forgot. Here are the details.
The strap is 3/4” wide and 48” long. Attach a 3/4” buckle to one end. Loop the strap into the buckle like it’s a belt. Attach the loose end to the leg of the stool using two No. 10 x 1” brass screws and finishing washers.
Put the loop around the feet of the folded-up stool. Make the loop so it’s snug on the feet, but not tight. Mark a hole for the prong. Punch that hole, then add two more holes on either side of that hole (I put them on 1/2” centers). You are done and ready to take your stool to a Night Ranger concert at the roller rink.