The following is from “Hands Employed Aright: The Furniture Making of Jonathan Fisher (1768-1847),” by Joshua Klein.
Fisher was the first settled minister of the frontier town of Blue Hill, Maine. Harvard-educated and handy with an axe, Fisher spent his adult life building furniture for his community. Fortunately for us, Fisher recorded every aspect of his life as a woodworker and minister on the frontier.
In this book, author Joshua A. Klein, the founder of Mortise & Tenon Magazine, examines what might be the most complete record of the life of an early 19th-century American craftsman. Using Fisher’s papers, his tools and the surviving furniture, Klein paints a picture of a man of remarkable mechanical genius, seemingly boundless energy and the deepest devotion. It is a portrait that is at times both familiar and completely alien to a modern reader – and one that will likely change your view of furniture making in the early days of the United States.
Chapter 7 of the book is a catalog of Fisher’s tools and furniture; these pieces are included therein.
Made by Jonathan Fisher
Dimensions: W: cross-grain 16-3/8″, with grain 16-5/8″ top 3/4″ thick; legs 1″ thick; bottom of pedestal 3″; cleat width 6″ H: 28″
From the collection of: Jonathan Fisher Memorial
Construction: The round top is screwed to a cleat. The pedestal is tenoned into the cleat. There is a turned shelf at the top of the dovetails and there is a circular thin metal plate in place of a spider nailed to the underside with three nails. The tops of the legs are rounded rather than coming to a point as in other stands.
Tool Marks: There is minor tear-out on the top’s underside. There is traversing tear-out on the underside. The cleat demonstrates a double chip in the plane iron’s marks. There is plane chatter on the cleat. There are layout lines for the tenon on the cleat. The underside of the legs have turning saw, spokeshave, chisel and rasp marks.
Condition: There is a large gouge in two areas of the pedestal but otherwise stable.
Made by Jonathan Fisher
Dimensions: L: 41-1/8″ D: 16-3/4″ H: 22-7/8″; stock thickness: 9/16″
Inscriptions/stamps: underside of lid: sawmill tally marks, three large chalk mark swirls; small pencil “x” on back
Accession Number: Collection of the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine; Museum Purchase, 1965.1465.11
Construction: The chest is rabbeted and nailed (with T-headed nails). The bottom is in dados and a groove (sides and back) and in a rabbet in front. There are three nails through each end securing the bottom and one in front but no nails through the back. The ogee-moulded lid has cleats that are tapered and fastened with nails clinched up through the top. The lid is attached with cotterpin hinges. The chest has a lock.
Tool Marks: Only the front, sides and top of the lid were smooth planed – all other surfaces have fore plane marks. The underside of the bottom is rough with lots of tear-out from a heavily cambered plane, and there is large tear-out on underside of PL cleat. There are saw marks under the profile of the feet with a considerable chamfer on the inside. The till’s layout lines are visible.
Condition: There are minor repairs to the moulding. Two clinched cleat nails have pulled through the lid. (They were clinched parallel to the grain.)