Why the Haunch?


FIG. 1. PURPOSE OF THE HAUNCH. This explains how the haunch strengthens the joint and fills in any groove that may be in the framework.

This is an excerpt from “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years: Volume III” published by Lost Art Press. 

The probability is that the haunch came into being as a matter of necessity. You know how, when making a door with grooved-in panel, the plough has to run right through so that a haunch to fill in the groove at the end simply has to be cut. It was soon perceived, however, that it does strengthen the joint because it opposes any twisting tendency at the otherwise unsupported end of the rail. This is explained in Fig. 1, which shows at A how there is nothing to prevent the edge from twisting should the wood be liable to do so, whilst at B the haunch offers direct resistance.

Some applications of the haunch are given in Fig. 2. At A is the grooved frame-work in which the haunch is essential to fill in the end of the groove. B is a plain, square-edged framework, whilst C is the same, but has what is known as the secret haunch. In many ways this is the best type of haunch. It is entirely concealed, it offers full resistance to twisting, and it is stronger since the short grain to the outside of the mortise is not cut away unduly. It can be applied to all tenon joints except the grooved type at A in which the haunch must fill in the groove end. A rebated framework joint is given at D, whilst E gives the application for a moulded and rebated framework.


FIG. 2. APPLICATIONS OF THE HAUNCH IN MORTISE AND TENON JOINTS. At A the haunch fills in the end of the groove. B is a square-edged framework. C is the secret or concealed haunch. D gives a rebated framework, and E is moulded and rebated.



The haunch should always be of the same thickness as the tenon, even when the groove (if any) is of different size. Take A, Fig. 2. It might easily happen that the groove was narrower than the tenon, and in this case it would merely be a case of enlarging the groove at the end to line up with the mortise.

When marking out the joint, always carry the mortise gauge along to the end of the wood as in Fig. 3, and continue down the end grain. The depth at the end can also be gauged in. The marks will not matter because they are removed when the waste allowance (shown shaded) is cut off. The haunch length should be squared across the outer edge of the tenoned part during the original marking out. A chisel should be used as this gives exact marking. In the case of the secret haunch at C, Fig. 2, allow it to stand in a trifle (see x) so that it is not revealed in subsequent trimming.



The proportion of the joint has to be considered (see Fig. 4). At A the tenon is so wide that the short grain beneath the haunch has little strength. If the tenoned piece were wrenched round it would probably split open the mortise. B goes to the other extreme, the haunched portion being strengthened at the expense of the tenon. At C a good proportion is shown; each part compromising to give the required strength.

Meghan Bates

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Abraham Carpenter, An Enterprising Cooper of Philadelphia

Almost 269 years ago Abraham Carpenter, a cooper, advertised his many services in rhyme. This might be the first advertising jingle in the Colonies.

He had handsome (hansom) chairs and horses for hire at a time when the city had, other than walking or riding horseback, few means of transport.

Located near the the waterfront he offered masts for vessels and cringles for sails. And of course, he was a very good hoop-maker, even if he did say so himself.

Suzanne Ellison

Posted in Historical Images | 8 Comments

Testing Ancient Technology


Part of the season 36 episodes of the Woodwright’s Shop are now online. One of them is on testing tusk tenon joints that Roy and I filmed a few months back. I made an apparatus to pull the joints apart and measure the amount of force it took to make them fail. The results are pretty impressive. The episode is called “Wedged Tusk Tenon” and is available to stream here.


I also shot a short video showing the joint smoker in action that is available here.

— Will Myers



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The Hardest Part of Being a Hobo-American


Note: This is a codicil to the entries I wrote called “Cut the Cord.” Part one is here. Part two is here. The entry below will make more sense if you read those first.

After more than five years of freelancing and making furniture to feed my pie hole, here is the most difficult part of being free of corporate America: getting paid.

This isn’t some screed about how vendors don’t pay me. Everyone I deal with (furniture customers, publishers, etc. ) is quite nice and honest. And no one has tried to stiff me on an invoice or avoid paying me.

But paperwork is paperwork. There are times when I build, film or write something and I don’t get paid for a year. But that’s just part of the deal. I might have to pay for materials for something that could take six months to build before a check comes through. That’s part of the deal. And there are times where people have owed me as much as $12,000 when I’ve had a $10,000 college tuition bill due. But that’s just part of the deal.

Being free from the daily commute means that I also have to be able to weather almost any financial crisis without whining, selling plasma or borrowing. For me, that means I have to have $20,000 in the bank at all times. My wife and I call it (and I’m so sorry for the implied swear word): “F-you money.”

As long as that money is there, I can pay almost any bill that comes up. I can wait out any vendor that has me on 45 days. I can hold out if I need to wait for something to clear there and something to process there. It takes much of the stress out of the accounting.

As I’ve found during the last 65 months, everything works out just fine in the end. You just have to be able to hold your breath for a much longer time than when you were paid every other Friday.

— Christopher Schwarz


Posted in Personal Favorites, Uncategorized | 23 Comments

More Soft Wax is Available


Wax production has been slow this fall because Katy’s class load is pretty heavy, and she’s taking art classes during the weekend (they’re making an entire board game?). But amidst all the teen-ager stuff, she’s made another 25 tins and put them up on her etsy site here.

The tins are $12 each for 4 oz. of wax, which is useful for all manner of things, from finishing the insides of a cabinet or other project, lubricating drawers or (as Raney Nelson pointed out) it’s a great lubricant for tools. He’s been using it on our dividers – the wax makes the action smooth but not sloppy.

— Christopher Schwarz


Posted in Uncategorized, Women in the Craft | 5 Comments

Now in Store: ‘The Woodworker Vol. III: Joinery’

joinery_cover_img_2253I am pleased to announce that expanding the number of people who work on our books is showing results. With the help of Megan Fitzpatrick (who has been assisting us from the beginning), Meghan Bates and now Kara Gebhart Uhl, we are finishing up some massive projects (and even taking on some new ones).

The latest news: We just sent the third volume of “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years” to press and it will be ready to ship in late November or early December. It covers joinery, is 288 pages long and filled with a huge amount of information on designing, cutting and even repairing your joints.

The book is $37, which includes domestic shipping. You can order the book here or download an excerpt here to check it out.

When we began planning this third volume of “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years,” we used the 1954 edition of “Woodwork Joints” by Hayward – a 5-1/2” x 8-1/5” folio printed by Evans Bros. Limited – as our guiding light.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the book “Woodwork Joints,” which was first published in 1950 then reprinted many times and in several different editions of varying quality.

The compact 168-page book is beautifully illustrated by Hayward and contains the kind of spare prose that made him the best woodworking author of the 20th century. Like a good woodworking joint, Hayward’s text contains nothing superfluous and lacks nothing important to the task at hand.

Every illustration from “Woodwork Joints” had appeared in The Woodworker magazine, where Hayward was editor from 1939 to 1967. So as we read every magazine issue from those years for our book, we marked and scanned every magazine article on joinery to make sure we captured everything that could have ended up in “Woodwork Joints.” We almost succeeded.

The good news is that our efforts have produced a book that covers nearly all of Hayward’s writing on joinery during the 28 years he was editor at The Woodworker. And because of the nature of the magazine format, we actually were able to plumb much deeper into the details of cutting and fitting joints to include things that never made it into “Woodwork Joints.”

For example, Hayward wrote 20 pages on dovetails in “Woodwork Joints.” This book has 90 pages on dovetails, and the pages are much bigger (8-1/2” x 11”) than the 1954 edition. As a result, you’ll find far more information on the secret mitre dovetail, stopped dovetailed housings, decorative dovetails and the double-lap dovetail. Plus details on how to correct faults in your joints, how to avoid crushing the end grain when chopping out and even a novel way to cut both the tails and pins simultaneously.

In addition to Hayward’s take on joinery, this volume also contains the perspective of other British writers of the day that Hayward published in The Woodworker, including J. Maynard, Robert Wearing, K.J.S. Walker and C.A. Hewett.

So where did we fail? Despite our best efforts to find them, this volume does not contain a couple short sections from “Woodwork Joints,” including hand-cut joints specifically for plywood and the use of metal fishplates with scarf joints.

Those faults aside, we think this volume is an admirable companion – if not a replacement – of “Woodwork Joints.” I hope this book becomes as ratty and thumbed-through as almost every copy of “Woodwork Joints” I’ve ever seen. That would be the best tribute ever to Hayward as his work continues to inspire the next generation of woodworkers.

Like all Lost Art Press books, “The Woodworker: The Charles Hayward Years” is produced and printed entirely in the United States. At 288 pages, it is printed on smooth acid-free #60 paper and joined with a tough binding that is sewn, affixed with fiber tape and then glued. The pages are covered in dense hardbound covers that are wrapped with cotton cloth.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. We don’t know which of our retailers will carry this title but will announce it when they sign on. Also, this volume will not be discounted when bought as a set with the other volumes. Sorry, but it would get too complicated for our accounting to handle.

Posted in Charles H. Hayward at The Woodworker, Uncategorized | 20 Comments

A Sampling of Aesthetic Movement Furniture

Mahogany chest, England, circa 1870.

Mahogany chest, England, circa 1870.

Aesthetic Movement furniture can give you whiplash. On one hand it can be delicately rendered, on the other hand it can hit you over the head with goofiness. The Aesthetic movement was a reaction to the heavy and suffocating Victorian styles. It was akin to the counter-culture of the 1960s when the restraints and conformity of previous decades were thrown off. The Aesthetic Movement began in England and was also embraced by America. It started around 1860 and extended to the 1890s when it gave way to the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Furniture and decorative items from this movement eschewed any deep meaning and emphasized beauty over any political or social statements. The term “art for art’s sake” is used to sum up the movement. There are several common themes in the Aesthetic Movement: the use of natural motifs, especially flowers, birds and insects; ebonized wood with incised gilt lines; Asian, particularly Japanese, influences; strong blue, green and yellow colors; blue and white ceramics.

Carved sunflower panel and brass drawer pulls.

Carved sunflower panel and brass drawer pulls.

The sunflower is one of the most common flowers carved in furniture, while gilt and brass are used for their yellow color. In the mahogany chest pictured at the top the red of the wood contrasts nicely with the gilt sunflower panels and the brass drawer pulls and locks.

Side chairs, American, 1880-85.

Side chairs, American, 1880-85.

These side chairs are of ebonized wood with incised gilt lines. The crestrail has delicate panels of inlay leaves in satinwood and brass.

A more robust corner, or roundabout, chair is made of rosewood and rosewood veneer.

Rosewood chair, American, 1870-80.

Rosewood chair, American, 1870-80.

The crestrail is in three parts and is carved with sunflowers, foliage and two butterflies. The arms end in a scrolled sunflower. The back rails are carved with foliage and flowers.

A closer look and you can see the lace wings of the butterfly, its carrot-shaped body, jaunty antenae and gimlet eye.

Detail of the rosewood chair Crestrail.

Detail of the rosewood chair crestrail.

A magazine rack from the 1860s is elevated with ebonized wood and a Japanese crest on the lowest rack.

Magazine rack, 1860s.Even the smallest pieces of Aesthetic Movement furniture have layers of detail. A small side table of ebonized wood has a top made of mahogany bordered with ebony and brass. A gallery gives the lower shelf the appearance of a balcony.

Side table, America, 1880.

Side table, America, 1880.

The table top has two inlays of exotic woods: an Egyptian scarab and a bee:

Liberty & Co. in London made their own line of furniture and this is a typical side table in mahogany with an unadorned top. But on the right side you can see the detail given to this table in the pierced gallery of the lower shelf and the pierced sections of the legs.

Liberty & Co. side table, 1895.

Liberty & Co. side table, 1895.

Minton brought Japanese artists to England to paint decorative tiles and ceramics. The tiles for this mantle depict birds, lakes and islands of bamboo.

Walnut mantle, England, 1880s.

Walnut mantle, England, 1880s with inset of tile detail.

A small cabinet with sides and front of glass shows the influence of Japanese architecture.

Japanese-inspired cabinet, 1875.

Japanese-inspired cabinet, 1875.

The glazed red back panel sings against the ebonized wood.

In the gallery are several pieces that fall into the catagory of “ornamentation for ornamentation’s” sake. Two pieces are by the American avant-garde designer George Hunzinger.

Suzanne Ellison

Posted in Carving, Furniture Styles | 10 Comments