The Mentors: Hayward & Roubo

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It was never supposed to happen like this, but I’m a believer in fate.

During the last seven days we have closed the books – so to speak – on two of the projects that have dogged us every day since we started this publishing company in 2007. Those projects – reviving the works of A.J. Roubo and Charles H. Hayward – have consumed the lives of more than a dozen people for almost as many years.

While I thought I would feel relief, joy or something powerful about the publication of “With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture” and “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years Vols. I – IV,” I actually don’t feel very much on a personal level. Perhaps it has yet to sink in, but all I feel right now is gratitude to the people who signed on to these crazy projects – with no guarantee of reward – and have stuck with us for years and years.

The Charles H. Hayward project began before we even incorporated Lost Art Press in 2007. John and I wanted everyone to encounter the pure genius of Hayward and The Woodworker magazine during its heyday. And likewise, our efforts at translating Roubo’s “l’art du Menuisier” predate this company by many years.

And now we’re pretty much done. Sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday, I’ll receive a copy of “With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture” and I’ll place it next to volume IV of The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years,” and that will be that. We might publish additional translations of Roubo. And we might have additional Hayward-related material in the works. But the big job is over.

I am not one for navel-gazing, but I can tell you this: These projects have transformed me as a craftsman, writer and designer. The books are so woven into the fiber of my being that it’s impossible to overstate their influence on how I work at the bench every day.

If I had to sum it up, I’d say that I can see the world through the eyes of these great men. Both of them did something that few woodworkers do: They investigated the craft around them with open hearts and open minds. Both interviewed woodworkers of all stripes in order to communicate how to make things. They refused to accept the narrow, rote training that can easily make you an effective soldier, but a poor thinker.

If anything, these men have taught me how to evaluate the advice, admonitions, rules and exhortations of other craftsmen. To spot the closed mind. To refuse to embrace dogma.

Will you find the same things in these books? I don’t know. But the lessons are there for the taking.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Charles H. Hayward at The Woodworker, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 2 Comments

“Fine and Affordable Underground Furniture”

The Kiwi Coffin Club of Rotorua and the DIY Coffin Club for Hawkes Bay, both on the North Island of New Zealand, are featured in a short article in today’s World News section of The New York Times. You can read the article here.

The Kiwi Coffin Club

The Kiwi Coffin Club

This quote from the DIY Coffin Club for Hawkes Bay website sums up what these clubs do and why: “The club is win-win time. It gives members a chance to plan ahead, talk about what is coming (even when hoping it is a long time arriving), socialise, help others, save money and personalise our final resting place.”

DIY Coffin Club for Hawkes Bay

DIY Coffin Club for Hawkes Bay

Here are two links to get you started on your own underground furniture:

Last October Chris posted the Coffin Chapter from “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” You can read that here.

In the summer of 2014 Chris and several friends had a coffin-building party and you can read about that  here.

Suzanne Ellison

Posted in Personal Favorites, The Anarchist's Design Book | Leave a comment

Another Early Bird: ‘Roubo on Furniture’ Standard Edition

r2_blue_twineGood news: The printing plant has completed the standard edition of “With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture” more than two weeks ahead of schedule. The book will arrive in the warehouse on Monday and will almost certainly ship to customers next week.

When we have a an exact shipping date, we’ll let you know here.

After years of frustrating delays and effort, it’s nice to have this project end on this pleasant note (assuming, of course, that the printing plant didn’t accidentally insert tasty squirrel recipes inside the covers).

As a result, we will have copies of “With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture” at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Braxton Brewing on March 10-11.

Also, this is your final chance to order “With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture” and receive a free pdf with your order. After March 1, the pdf will cost extra.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in To Make as Perfectly as Possible, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Estonian Spoons and Bowls

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Fig. 73. Wooden Spoons: 1. Spoon from Muhu, Mäla village, ERM A 290:150; 2. Spoon from Karja, Koikla village. EM 16957.


This is an excerpt from “Woodworking in Estonia” by Ants Viires and translated by Mart Aru.

Until the beginning of the century, spoons and ladles for home use were generally produced by the peasants themselves. The preferred timber was that of birch, hard pieces of birch root and sometimes juniper. To prevent these articles from cracking, they were frequently boiled in hot water (they were also known to have been dried in the bread oven).4 The bowl parts of the Estonian spoons (as well as the Latvian and Finnish ones), are of elongated shape, differing in this respect from the Russian round-bowled spoons.5

Often the spoons were covered with carved designs (Fig. 73). The Russian spoon with the round bowl, often pointed, became known in Estonia in the course of the 19th century mainly through being introduced by men returning from military service from Russia. Only toward the end of the century did the Russian spoon appear in the shops, or they were bought from by hawkers. The following is from Räpina: “Later, about 40 years ago [= ca. 1900] then no longer country spoons were made for eating. The Seto people started to bring and sell wooden spoons. The Seto exchanged spoons against grain and rags. There was a factory in Pihkva (Pskov) that made them. It was better to eat with factory spoons than with spoons made by ourselves. There was thick paint on them and there was no need to wash them so thoroughly and the color stuck well. Country spoons remained only for making of butter and cooking. Old people, who had not been accustomed to eat with the other spoons, ate a long time with self-made spoons.”6  In the first decades of the 20th century metal spoons put a full stop both to country spoons as well as the Russian wooden spoons as tableware. Wooden spoons remained in use only in cooking.

It is worth mentioning that although the Estonian and Russian wooden spoons were quite different, the word “lusikas” (south Estonian “luhits, luits”) is actually an old Russian loanword (Old Russian “льжька,” Russian “лoжка”), as a result of which it has been believed that Russian spoons were spread already quite early as an article of trade among Baltic-Finnic people, and because of it the original old names have been forgotton. One of such old names could be “koost,” which denotes a wooden spoon on the western shore  of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa (Karuse and Varbla). That Russian spoons were actually found in the Baltic counties at an early time is confirmed by a find of typical Russian spoons in Riga, in all likelihood from the 13th to the 15th centuries.8  To a certain extent the previous position is in a certain contradiction with what people have stored in their memories – which, as we have seen, link the appearance of Russian spoons at a rather late date. It is also interesting that the word “lusikas” (spoon) has in its turn spread into the speech of Russians on the other side of Lake Peipsi as “лузик”9  (it may be to distinguish it from the different spoon with a longish bowl which Avinurme home industry people could have sold on their commercial travels in the 19th century on the other side of Lake Peipsi).

The words used for ladle, “kulp” or “kula” (the latter is a west Estonian term used to describe a ladle with the bowl at an angle, used to scoop milk from the urn), are probably of Baltic–Finnicorigin.10  On the other hand the south Estonian term “kopp” originates from the Lower German “koppe.”11  The same word is applied in other parts of Estonia to mean a wooden bowl with a handle. In the Võru dialect and in other eastern parts of the country the wooden bowl with a handle, especially the one for use in the bath, is known as “korets, karits” (Russian “korets”).

woodworking-in-estonia-bowl

Hollowed bowl, Põlva, Kaapa village, ERM A 227:86.

Bowls (Fig. 74) were usually made of softwood – linden, aspen, alder, sometimes also from birch. Usually they were made from a stem cut in two, crosswise, although lengthwise was sometimes preferred. The latter were not as durable and had a tendency to crack. Tools used in the manufacture of homemade bowls were the scooping axe, the chisel and the draw knife. However, in the 19th century most bowls were already being produced by turnery, and the bowl ceased to be a homemade article (see the chapter on Turning). There are only a few such bowls in museum collections, as by far the greater number of bowls have been turned. This shows that in the 19th century making of bowls was mostly the duty of turners, and no longer belonged to the circle of the peasant’s home carpentry.

 e.g. KT 101, 9, Räpina.
5  Such spoons with an oval bowl occur in the Slavonic area in Central Europe (Opole) since the 10th to the 12th centuries.(Hołubowicz, Fig. 122:1 p. 277). Wooden spoons used in the 15th to the 16th century are relatively similar in their shape to Russian spoons of the 19th century. (Рабинович. Из иcтoрии быта, Fig. 10:7. p. 51).
KT 101.9–10 (Joosep Hermann, b. 1866), cf. also EA 15, 116 Avinurme; KV 78, 124 Jõhvi.
Mikkola, p. 45, 66; Kalima, Slaavil, san., p. 120.
Šnore, plate II, 5, 8.
9 Kalima, Ostseefinn. lehnwörter, p. 157.
10 Хакулинен I, p. 103; Ariste, Hiiu, p. 176.
11 Saareste p. 245.

Meghan Bates

Posted in Woodworking in Estonia | 4 Comments

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Covington, Ky.

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Lie-Nielsen Toolworks is hosting a Hand Tool Event at Braxton Brewing in Covington, Ky., on March 10-11 (details from Lie-Nielsen are here).

We will have a booth at the brewery both days and will have our storefront open on Saturday only (not Friday; nor Thursday) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Our storefront is a seven-minute walk from the brewery.

On Saturday night we are organizing an outing to Rhinegeist brewing in Cincinnati where we shall play Hammerschlager – a competitive nail-driving game. The winner of the evening (likely the one person left standing) will receive a letterpress hammer poster (long sold out and coveted). We’ll bring the stump, the hammer and the nails.

The event at Rhinegeist will start about 8 p.m. We recommend you go to Eli’s barbecue at Findlay Market to get your dinner beforehand and walk it a block north to Rhinegeist to eat it. (That’s what we’re going to do.) Note that Eli’s closes at 9 p.m. Tarry not.

I hope that we will have some other special stuff to show or sell, but that all depends on trucking and production schedules. More details, soon.

Last year’s show was fantastic. Braxton has excellent beer. Covington has a lot of great places to eat and drink (more on those later on). And yeah, Cincinnati is awesome, too.

Hope to see you there!

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Now Taking Orders for the Deluxe ‘Roubo on Furniture’

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Last night at dinner I laid out the finances involved in printing the deluxe “With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture,” and I think I saw the blood drain out of my wife’s face – just a little bit.

It’s like sending a child to college. It’s vitally important, and so you somehow find the money to make it happen. But when you stand back and count up all the dollars involved you wonder how the heck you did it.

We are pleased, thrilled and a little anxious to offer you “With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture,” the largest, most expensive and most incredibly built book we’ve yet to offer. We think the investment is worth it. Don Williams, Michele Pietryka-Pagán and Philippe Lafargue dedicated years of their lives to translate A.J. Roubo’s 18th-century masterwork “l’art du Menuisier” and have done a magnificent job. Designer Wesley Tanner has captured the experience of reading an 18th-century book. And so we have decided to put all our chips on the table.

If you approach this book with an open heart and mind, I think you will find yourself challenged to become a better woodworker in everything you do. It is the most involved piece of woodworking writing I’ve ever encountered. It is for beginners, intermediates and the advanced.

Even if you have zero interest in building French furniture, I think this book will speak to you as a maker and give you insights into how things are made “with all the precision possible.”

The book is $550 and will ship this summer. You can place your pre-publication order here.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in To Make as Perfectly as Possible, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 30 Comments

A Video Tour of a Deluxe Roubo Book

If you have never seen one of our deluxe versions of “To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry,” this tour will give you a small taste of the scale of the book and the quality of its components.

Since the release of this book (it’s long since sold out), people have come by the storefront or to shows to see a copy and it’s always a treat to see their reaction. First, they are amazed at the size – 12-1/4” wide x 17-1/4” tall. It’s uncommon to see a book of this size outside of a library’s rare book room.

But my favorite part is when they open the book. The printing and detail is so crisp that no matter how close you get, it holds up.

Oh, and the A.J. Roubo translations themselves are an incredibly important piece of woodworking history. Roubo’s “l’art d’Menuisier” is still the legal yardstick in many countries for what is good workmanship. And this is the first time his sections on furniture are being printed in English.

On Wednesday at noon we will begin taking pre-publication orders for the deluxe version of “With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture.” Full details on the book are available here. We are printing 1,000 copies, which will ship this summer.

Also, I neglected to mention that everyone who purchases a deluxe copy of the book will receive a pdf download of the standard edition. It will be delivered after you checkout.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Roubo Translation, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Uncategorized | 7 Comments