On page 228 of “The Anarchist’s Workbench,” I printed the wrong photo. In the wrong photo (shown above), the boards in the left leg are oriented correctly to accommodate cupping and bowing of the wood. However, the caption says the boards are oriented incorrectly.
Here is how the photo should look (it’s corrected with the help of Photoshop).
The error occurred because my head sometimes experiences what I call “vapor lock.” (Though I am sure there’s a real term for this problem.) When I took this photo in 2020, I realized that I had the boards oriented wrong. So I flipped the top board and retook the photo.
Then I reminded myself all day to delete the wrong photo. Delete the wrong photo. Delete the wrong photo.
At the end of the day, I deleted the other photo. My head was convinced right was wrong and wrong was right. And my hallucination lasted through the editing process.
We will correct this error in the next printing.
— Christopher Schwarz
38 thoughts on “Error in ‘The Anarchist’s Workbench’”
Thank you. Your commitment to accuracy is more important to me than the occasional, human error.
Likewise we’re all only imperfect humans
This type of error is only a real problem when it afflicts a surgeon.
Or a pilot
So the wrong photo was described as the wrong way to do things? And the corrected photo is correctly described as the wrong way to do things? Does that imply that the wrong photo is the right way to do things? And would fixing the error in the photo mean that the fixed photo is now (still) the wrong way to do things? I think I’m experiencing vapor lock, too …
In both photos, the arrangement on the right is the correct one.
My 1972 Sportster would vapor lock. Push the diaphragm up with a paper clip worked every time. Try it next time 😉
For those who don’t have the book handy, could you remind us of the rationale? I think a naive beginner would have been more likely to use the right-side arrangement than either version of the left; it feels like the rings should either be concentric(ish) or intermixed rather than three-and-one…?
The right-side arrangement is correct in both photos. I have added the original caption to both photos, which should (I hope) clear things up.
Ah, that makes more sense. There are three possible 180-degree rotations, but in the revised version it is indeed clearer which one is intended.
This is what it says on pp. 227 f. in the book:
“LORD OF THE RINGS
The first thing to do is arrange the four boards that will make up each leg of the bench. You’re going to look at these legs for decades, so arrange the grain and color on the edges so things don’t look stupidly jarring. Hide knots and defects.
But wait, there’s one other important consideration. When gluing up boards face-to-face, try to orient the growth rings sympathetically in each leg. What the hell does that last sentence even mean? Basically, the heart side of one board should always touch the bark side of its neighbor. A photo explains it easily.
Why? If the boards in the lamination cup, they will help keep the seams at the edges closed and tight. Why, again? Remember: The bark side of a board becomes cupped as it dries. The heart side bows out. Put a bow and a cup together and the shapes are sympathetic or complementary. Put a bow against a bow (or a cup against a cup) and you might have a struggle on your hands (or some gaps at the seams).”
And the photo caption reads as follows:
“WRONG & RIGHT
On the left, the parts aren’t arranged ideally. That top board should be flipped 180°. On the right is a leg that is glued up ideally.”
It took me a minute-and-half when comparing the photoshopped image with the published one that you only flipped it through one axis with Photshop, so that the new photo shows the top board mirrored in comparison woitrh how it would have been, had it been flipped 180° for real. Not that it matters: the new image shows heart side to heart side (= wrong) which is the important bit.
Thanks for the quote. Definitely makes sense.
Agree. I just went back and reread the passage. “Place heart side to bark side,” it says. Pointing out the heart-to-bark connections in the new photo would reinforce the message for anyone who might be unsure of what they are looking at here. Thanks for the correction and clarification.
I apologize for my incomplete memory. (2100 miles from my copy of the book and 75 years don’t help.)
I thought the goal was to orient rings as close as possible to the way they are in the tree. If that is the case, would the rings more closely approximate nature if in your “corrected photo” the top board is rotated 180 degrees (top to bottom)?
Don’t despair about an occasional error. It only gets worse. I speak from experience.
Your work far eclipses many people in your world who think they have ALL the answers.
You are correct. The arrangement on the right side of both photos is optimal.
Recalling the mental note that the illustration may have been mistaken back when I read the chapter, I believe the answer is: as shown in the original printing, it’s wrong-ish. On the original picture, best practices would be to spin the board end-for-end (“flat” or “yaw” spin, like the Goose-killer in Top Gun) so the heart of each segment is up and a little to the right. On the new version, it’s more obviously wrong; the top board has the heart down and to the left. Flipping the board on its long axis (barrel roll) will make things right.
Thank you for confirming that I had not lost my mind. As someone who has edited 4 books for publication (not mine), if that is the only error, kudos! Thank you for the commitment to accuracy. Happy New Year!
please label the correct and incorrect alignment in the post photo. Thanks
Rather than correct an error, I think you just made a couple of hundred heads explode.
Honestly, in the old and new versions, both of the left stack look incorrect to me (or at least clearly different than the correct stack on the right) so I interpret both pictures the exact same way. I do think that as long as you’re photoshopping the image, it might help to flip the second board from the bottom just to exaggerate the incorrect example.
Will you be providing a corrected PDF? Hope so. White out on my ipad won’t help me. Thanks.
I recall reading that, and thought I was going crazy, as I just took a woodworking class last August, and we were taught all about grain orientation. I was having serious doubts about my own intelligence and understanding after reading TAW:
“Wait?! I thought I understood how this is supposed to work, but Chris is telling me something different. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention in class. Or maybe I’m just stupid. Aw, screw it. I’ll just drink a bunch of beer, and read this again in six months when I’m ready to build my bench. Maybe it will make sense then.”
Thank you for clearing this up. The beer was good.
CaptainKendrick — I am/was like you in that I thought I understood the words, but the picture convinced me that I was ignorant (as in lack of knowledge/understanding). Several times I thought about writing to LAP and asking for help, but a bit of embarrassment kept me from it. Besides, like you, I wasn’t ready to start on my bench. AND, I so agree with others who appreciate the integrity and fantastic customer service of Chris and crew.
Not once have I ever made that error. But oh so many times. I think we called it Death by Over Thinking in college. I suspect there is no cure. 😛
The proper medical term is “brain fart.” 😉
See, this is why it pays to procrastinate! I haven’t gotten around to building this bench yet, and my (lack of)hard work has paid off. When i get around to finally building it, all the errors will have been corrected.
I’ll second the request for a corrected PDF. I have purchased a dozen of your books — just not that one, yet. When I choose to build it I’ll order the hard-copy. Thanks for the dedication to accuracy and Happy New Year!
Happens to the best of us – like looking for the glasses that I am holding in my hand!
Chris, I have a number of LAP books and wonder if there is a place where one can access any errata you have published if I go back to do one of the projects in the future? Probably not a big deal but might be handy.
It’s a category on our blog.
Thank you, as usual, you are the best.
Thanks for the fix.
I am doing your bench now.
Are there any boards besides the top left one that are different between the two photos?
My brain does that every time I look in the mirror. All I see is a handsome young 21 year old. I was born in 1968.
Huh. Roubo, with plate 102 (pp100-101 in the LAP translation), says to “put the soft sides one to another” in order to let that more-pliable wood to deform more. For simple 2-element face-glues, that would mean the bark sides on the inside. He also shows a more complex example (Fig. 2 in the plate) that shows how you can stagger the pieces to achieve this effect.
I dunno. Maybe it also depends a lot on the wood itself. Roubo would have been working a lot with oak, which does tend to do funky things, or even beech, which is notorious. I haven’t really observed any problems in southern yellow pine or douglas-fir that I’ve glued in other ways. Those two tend to be pretty stable when dry, but part of it also could have to do with the luxury of contemporary climate control.
So the photo in the book shows two arrangements, both of which are correct, but the one on the right is ideal?
I may be completely wrong here but it looks to me like the top board in the “wrong” photo is, in fact, heart to bark, but needs to be flipped end for end to appear like the photo on the right. The “corrected” photo is now heart to heart. It’s a little confusing because the boards are so rift that heart is located towards a corner. If they were more flat sawn it may be more easily illustrated. This may have been commented on elsewhere, apologies if I’ve missed it.
of course now that I have clicked comment I am seeing that the “corrected” photo is illustrating something that needs to be corrected and the caption is explaining how to correct it, so just completely disregard my previous comment
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