With “The Anarchist’s Design Book” in the rear-view mirror, I am double-clutching to get our Charles H. Hayward project to the printer as soon as possible.
After eight years of toil by a dozen people, we are almost there. I have only about 40 hours of work to do in order to get it to press. So I am eschewing the shop as much as possible (except for this sweet little diversion).
Our book on Hayward covers his entire editorial stint at The Woodworker, from the 1930s to the late 1960s. It was a period of incredible change in our craft, and you can see attitudes shift as the hand tools are put away and the machines begin to dominate.
However, Hayward loved handwork and insisted on filling the pages of the magazine with it even to the end of his tenure. So I think you will adore this book when it comes out.
Tonight I’m editing the section on glue blocks (yup, an entire section on glue blocks) and was struck by one of the articles called “The Weakest Link.” It’s one of those articles when you can see the old ways start to slip away.
What is “The Weakest Link?” It is joinery.
The article explains how joinery can weaken an assembly instead of strengthening it. Hayward points to studies in the United States that dealt with a door made up of a framework skimmed by plywood panels. (See Fig. 2 above.) Adding joinery to the piece does not add strength to the door, according to scientific studies. So perhaps we can or should skip it.
The assembly is dang ugly, however, no matter how strong it is.
In the same article, Hayward goes into immense detail in discussing glue blocks and offers details you don’t often see. For example: You should plane off the corner of the glue block just a shaving or two) that goes into the corner of the assembly to add strength. Duh. Why have I not thought of that?
To be sure, about 90 percent of the material in this book is about the best practices in woodworking – many times better than what is typical today. But it is interesting to see standards start to slip. Invariably what causes them to slip might surprise you: it’s science.
— Christopher Schwarz