In an effort to not lose more money on posters, we offer this full-resolution 11″ x 17″ image of A.J. Roubo’s famous Plate 11 for free. Download it, take the file to your local print shop and get it printed on a large-format printer.
The file is a jpg and is in full color. Print it out in color, and the background will resemble the rag paper used for the 1777 original. And the ink will be the dark dark brown found on the original.
If you are worried that the dude at the print shop will claim you need copyright clearance (for an image from 1777…?), print out this blog entry and take it along to the store.
“Hi. We (Lost Art Press) own the original of this image. The person holding this blog entry is allowed to print the image for their personal use. Thank you, print shop person.”
Why are we doing this? Several readers have asked for a Plate 11 poster. Instead of flushing away several hundred American dollars down the American Standard (and ending up with hundreds of unsold posters in my cellar), we decided to give the electronic image away (and use the money we saved for moss research).
I never get tired of this particular plate. It is so blinking odd. The scale of the jigs, tools and work hung on the walls of the workshop bear no connection to reality. The brace on the wall is the same size as one of the workers. However, if you own the “Book of Plates” you can play a fun game. All of the objects shown on the walls of Plate 11 are actually things found in other plates in the book.
I’m sure you could make it into a drinking game. Somehow.
The Crucible Planing Stops will go up for sale on Monday in our store. The stops will be $49 plus shipping (I’m afraid they are unlikely to arrive at your address before Christmas).
These planing stops represent two years of work and almost a $50,000 investment in patterns, matchplates and ductile iron. This is our biggest-ever tool run, and we are holding our breath a little bit about how they will fare in the marketplace.
These stops are less expensive than a blacksmith-made stop, and they are quite easy to install. I’ve made a short video that shows the process here:
The stop is based on the planing stops shown in A.J. Roubo’s masterwork, with some minor tweaks. The stop’s teeth sweep slightly upward, instead of being parallel to the benchtop. This makes it much less likely that a handplane will collide with the stop.
Also, the teeth come sharp – but not too sharp. Beginners can get used to using the stop. Then, when they are comfortable, they can grind or file the teeth so they are needle-sharp, which is how I like mine.
Once we get our first volley of planing stops out the door, we will offer these to our retailers around the world. It is my dearest hope that somehow, someday, one of these stops makes it onto a Roubo-style workbench in Paris – completing a 240-year cycle.
The different Compositions of Dyes appropriate for dyeing Woods, and how to use them
The tinting [dyeing or staining] of woods is of great importance for cabinetmakers, because it is with its help that one can give to woods the different colors, which are necessary for representing all sorts of objects, such as fruits, flowers, animals, etc. However, cabinetmakers always make a great secret of the composition of their dyes in order to preserve exclusivity, and not to increase the number of workers in their trade. From that circumstance comes the fact that most of the compositions that the ancient cabinetmakers used have not been passed on to us, or are presently badly imitated. Those being used presently are defective, or even if they are good, cannot be perfected given that those who possess them hide the process. They keep this information secret not only from their colleagues but even from those for whom the theory could be useful in perfecting the composition of their dyes. This would be much more advantageous than the enjoyment of maintaining a secret, which is not a big thing, but which, even when it is perfectly well known to us, leaves us still to regret the loss of the method of Jean de Veronne, who tinted woods with boiling dyes and oils that penetrated them. This would be a very helpful thing to know, the research of which would be a worthy undertaking for some of our scholars. It is highly wished that one could find the means to use the chemicals having a good tint in the dyeing of woods, because their colors would be more durable. Sadly, the colored parts of most of these chemicals are too thick to penetrate the interior of woods, which is absolutely necessary, so that when working with tinted woods they are all found to be of uniform color throughout their entire thickness and the surface.
That is why in the description of the woods, without the means to which I would like to know the procedure to accomplish the perfect tint, I will explain only ordinary procedures to cabinetmakers, to which I will add some of my own experiences, which is still a long ways from attaining the perfection of which this part can be capable.
The five primitive colors are, as I said above, blue, yellow, red, taupe [brown] and black. Each of these colors is given by different chemicals, which, when mixed together, give the second or composite colors.
The blue appropriate for tinting woods is made with indigo, diluted in oil of vitriol [also known as sulfuric acid], and then put in a sufficient quantity of water.
Yellow is made with barberry, yellow earth and saffron mixed together, or even simply from gaude [this plant, Reseda luteola, is known as weld].
Red is made from the boiling of wool, or even a concoction of Brasilwood mixed with alum.
Taupe is made with walnut husk.
Black is made with the wood of the Indies, the gall nuts and iron sulfate.
Before entering into the detail of the composition of different stains, I am going to give a general idea of the chemicals of which they are composed, so that the cabinetmakers may be less subject to being fooled when they buy them.
Indigo is a type of ash of a deep blue, provided by the leaves of a plant that grows in the Americas and Indostan, and which they sell in little pieces. For it to be good, it must be medium-hard, so that it floats on water, so it is inflammable and of a beautiful blue or deep violet color. Its interior should be strewn with little silver-colored spangles, and appear reddish when rubbed with a fingernail. Indigo is preferred over all other chemicals for staining woods because it is a powder of extremely fine and granular pieces, which are easily introduced into the pores of the woods.
Oil of vitriol or sulfuric acid is the final spirit that one gets from vitriol. This acidic liquor should be very concentrated and be absolutely free of all aqueous parts to be of a beautiful blue color, as I will speak more of later.
Barberry is a little bush of which the fruits, and the bark of the roots are stained in yellow. That from Candie [island off the coast of Crete] has a very yellow wood, and passes for the best.
Woad [this cannot be woad that produces a blue dye] is a rather common plant in France. One boils it in water to extract a yellow liquid, which mixed with a bit of alum, tints very well. Dyers prefer that one, which is the most spare [meaning thinnest] and of a rosy color.
One also dyes in yellow with the yellow wood of which I spoke above page 777. Yellow earth is nothing other than yellow ochre, used by painters.
Saffron is a plant that grows in France, especially in Gatinois [western part of France]. It is the pistil of the saffron flower, which gives these little reddish filaments, or better said, orange, which they sell under the name of saffron, which gives a dye of a golden yellow. For saffron to be good, it should be fresh, of a pungent odor, of a brilliant color and when touched it should seem oily and should stick to the hands.
Alum is a fossil salt and mineral, which is used much in dyeing, whether to set up the materials to be stained or whether for fixing the colors [as a mordant], which it retains all the particles by its astrin-gent quality. The best is that of Rome, which is white in color, and is transparent, a bit like crystal.
Liquor decanted from boiled wool is sold by the wool merchants. In boiling this wool, one gets a decoction of the color rose, which is more or less deep, according to how much water is used to scour the wool, proportional with its quantity.
I spoke up above of Brasilwood, page 771. I will content myself to say here that the decoction of this wood gives off a clear red color, tending toward the orange, and that one deepens its color by adding a bit of alum. Brasilwood from Fernambouc is the best, and they sell it all chopped up at the spice merchants, who sell it by the pound.
The husk of walnuts is nothing more than the first wrapping of these nuts, which one takes off before they are perfectly mature, and which one boils in water to extract a brownish or taupey tint.
Indian Wood, of which I spoke on page 777, gives off a concoction of a deep red, which one stains in black, and when one mixes with alum it stains in violet.
Nut gall is a type of excretion that is found on the tender shoots of a type of oak named “Rouvre.” The most highly esteemed nut gall comes from the Levant [the name given to the countries on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean]. The best ones are those that are the heaviest, and where the surface is thorny. There are both green and black ones, both of which work equally to stain in black.
Ferrous sulfate is a type of vitriol that is found in copper mines. It is the most powerful of the acids, it corrodes iron and copper, and it etches the soft parts with an infinite number of small holes, into which the dye is introduced. Ferrous sulfate is also named Roman vitriol or English vitriol, according to whether it comes from one or the other countries. We make some in France that is, they say, as good as the others. The color of ferrous sulfate [known also as green vitriol] is of a light green: it should be neat and shiny.
Verdigris also works well as a wood dye. It is the green rust scraped from copper sheets. For it to be good, it should be dry, pure, of a deep green and filled with white spots.
There you have a bit of a description of the ingredients commonly used for staining/dyeing woods. All that remains is to give the manner of making use of them.
The Way of Staining Wood Blue
The preparation of blue with indigo and oil of vitriol [sulfuric acid] is done in two ways, namely, hot and cold. Blue for wood is prepared cold in the following manner:
you take 4 ounces of oil of vitriol of the best quality, that is to say, that it is deprived of all aqueous parts, which you pour into a pint-size bottle, with 1 ounce of indigo reduced to a very fine powder. Then you fill the bottle with water, at least nearly so, and you bottle it very carefully, and you seal the cork with wax. you let it infuse for five to six weeks, at the end of which you can use this stain that will be more or less strong, by putting in as much water as you judge appropriate, always ob-serving to add a bit of oil of vitriol, so the dye will be fixed better. When the dye is to the degree of strength that you need, you put it in a stoneware or glazed earthenware vessel, and you soak the wood in it until it is totally penetrated, which sometimes requires 15 days and even one month of time, according to the hardness and thickness of the wood. The wood can hardly have a thickness of more than one line [1/12″].
Cabinetmakers ordinarily use a stoneware butter pot for putting the wood into the dye, which is very convenient because the shape of this vase enables one to put in rather large pieces, without the need of having a very great quantity of dye.
It is very easy to know when the interior of the wood is penetrated, given that you only have to cut a small piece of the wood about 2 to 3 lines from its end. When the pieces that you want to dye cannot be cut like this, you put with them another piece of the same quality, with which you test the degree of penetration of the other pieces.
The Way of Dyeing in Yellow
Cabinetmakers tint in yellow with barberry, with yellow earth and with saffron, which they boil together. This being done, they soak the wood pieces until they are totally stained. The proportion of these chemicals is 2 liters [in this case the French word refers to “litron,” which is about 79 percent of a modern liter, so 2 modern liters is a much larger quantity] of barberry, 6 “sols” [a French penny] of yellow earth, and 4 “sols” of saffron.
A concoction of woad gives a very beautiful yellow of a good tint, and you soak the wood as normal. When this concoction is added to a bit of verdigris, you have a sulfurous yellow color. Saffron infused in grain alcohol gives a very beautiful golden yellow.
The Way to Dye in Red
Red is normally made with brasilwood, which one boils with 6 sols of alum for each pound of wood. This red is a false tint because it is more orange than red. you can substitute the boiling-liqueur from wool, which gives a very beautiful red, leaning toward rose, which one makes deeper by passing the pieces that you have stained into the liqueur of the mixture of Brasilwood mixed with alum. This makes a very beautiful red, more or less deep, depending on whether you leave the pieces of wood more or less a long time in the dye bath of Brasilwood.
Dyeing with decanting liqueur is done very easily. One only needs to boil some wool dyed to this effect, just until it makes a beautiful red concoction. Avoid boiling too much, because the wool will take back the color that it discharged at first.
The proportion of the liquor of wool to be decanted is 1 pound to 4 pints of water for the first decanting, to which one can add a second, even a third, until the wool renders no more color. The concoction of Brasilwood without alum gives a yellowish red, which is sometimes attractive, and is named “Capucine.”
The concoction of Indian Wood is very red, but it makes a blackish stain, which makes a very beautiful violet when mixed with alum from Rome, as I will speak of it later.
How to Dye Taupe [Brown], Black and Grey
Taupe dye is made with a concoction of walnut husk, which can be more or less strong, as you judge appropriate, always adding to it a bit of alum.
An attractive black is made by staining the wood first in a concoction of wood of India (or Campeachy, which is the same thing). When this first application is dry, you dip the wood in a concoction of gall nut in which you have put some ferrous sulfate, or vitriol of Rome. Sometimes one only makes a single dye of these various ingredients, of which the proportion should be 1 part nut gall, 1 part vitriol and 6 parts of Campeachy, all boiled together, into which you dip the wood until it is penetrated.
A grey tint is made with a concoction of nut gall, into which you dissolve some green vitriol [ferrous sulfate] in smaller quantity than for the black stain. The more ferrous sulfate-cuprous there is, the deeper grey it will be. The normal proportion is one part of ferrous sulfate for two parts of nut gall.
The Way to Tint Composite Colors
The ordinary green stain of cabinetmakers is made with the same ingredients as for the blue, to which is added the barberry in more or less quantity, according to whether the green should be more or less deep.
One can make a very beautiful apple green in staining first the wood in ordinary blue, and then dipping it in a concoction of woad, and that with more or less time according to whether one wants to have a green more or less strong.
Violet is made with a concoction of Campeachy, to which one has mixed some alum from Rome. One can have violet more or less deep by staining first the woods in rose and then in the blue, which will give a clear violet.
If, on the contrary, one wishes to have a brown-red leaning toward violet, one stains the wood first in the concoction of Brasilwood, then in that of the Campeachy.
One can obtain composite dye of all nuances imaginable by tinting the wood in a primary color then in another one more or less dark, so that the stain that results from these two colors reflects more or less of each other. This is very possible to do because one is the master to strengthen or weaken the primary colors as one judges appropriate, whether by reason of what the form of the object re-quires, or even by reason of the different quality of wood, which takes the dye more or less well, or strengthens or weakens the color. This has to be highly considered, and it requires much attention and experience on the part of cabinetmakers.
In general, all the dyes of which I just spoke are applied in cold baths. It is not that many of them cannot be used hot, but it is that because it takes a considerable amount of time for the same dye to penetrate into the interior of wood, it is not possible to use them hot. What’s more, cold dyed wood has much more vibrancy than when used with a hot bath.
There it is, a bit of the details of staining [dyeing] wood, at least those that most cabinetmakers use, or which I myself have employed in the attempts that I have made. These have succeeded rather well, but they have not been followed by a long enough time to be assured of the success of my at-tempts. It would be highly wished that those who are currently making use of these dyes, or who will be using them later, apply themselves to perfect them which, I believe, is not absolutely impossible. Having done this, they would be rather good citizens to not make a mystery of their discoveries, but only succeed by rendering them public.
Cabinetmakers dye not only their woods for veneer to use them in the place of the natural color of the woods. They also use these same dyes to accentuate various parts of their works while they are being worked. As such, these dyes, like the red of Brasilwood, the violet of the Campeachy, the black, etc., are used hot, which is very easy to do because it is sufficient for only the exterior of the woods being dyed. Other than these dyes, woodworkers in furniture sometimes use a type of yellow color for bedsteads, which is composed of yellow ochre and common varnish, or of this same ochre and the very clear English glue, sometimes they even put it in only water, which is of little use.
Before finishing the dyeing of wood, I believe I ought to give a least-costly method of dyeing white wood red, which is done in the following manner:
you take some horse dung, which you put in a bucket of which the bottom is pierced with many holes, and you place it above another bucket, into which falls the water from the dung, as it gradually rots. When it does not rot fast enough, you water it from time to time with some horse urine, which helps a lot and at the same time gives a red water, which not only stains the surface of the wood, but penetrates the interior 3 to 4 lines deep. In staining the wood with this dye, one must take care that all the pieces be of the same species, and about equal in density if one wishes that they be of equal color throughout. This observation is general for all water-based stains, which have no palpable thickness nor even appearance [they leave no residue or any evident change in appearance], which requires the cabinetmaker to make a choice of wood of equal color and a density as I mentioned before. This demands a lot of experience and attention on the part of the cabinetmakers. And with the exception of the way to compose and use dyes, it is hardly possible to give theoretical rules on this part, for which success is not often due to anything but experience, which is not acquired except with a lot of time, attention and work.
For the fashioning of raw timbers, we understand the manner of splitting [hewing or sawing] and squaring them, which is done in different ways, according to the nature, the quality and the thickness of the wood. They are sawn by the mills, or even by hand, by workers called long sawyers or simply sawyers. I will not speak here of the harvesting of the woods in the forests. I will be content to say only that they are sawn and cut in sizes and lengths relative to our different needs, and that wood thus prepared is called wood samples.
They are found abundantly in all types and all qualities possible in the inventories of the wood Merchants, which they ordinarily cut for themselves and for their clients, and are transported to their storage lots or shops in Paris. [Suppose you go to a lumberyard and in the lumber section you will find 2×4, 2×8, 2×6 etc. This is what is called bois díechantillons. In this case it is oak, pine, walnut etc. of various types but standard dimensions.]
Cut or squared-up woods take different names according to their sizes, and according to the place which they occupy in the body of the tree: We call them dosses [slabs], countre dosses, swinging doors, framework, chevrons and finally planks and battens. Slabs are the first cuts removed from a log in order to square it up, after having removed the bark, like those on sides g–g, Fig. 5 and 6.
When the diameter of the tree is considerable, and you fear that the first cut slab will become too thick, you make a double-cut, which is called a contre-dosse; that is to say, that it is between the first cut dosse [slab] and cut line and the heartwood [wood between the pith and the sapwood] like those on sides h–h, Fig. 6. When the wood is beautiful, the contre-dosse are very soft, being very close to the edges of the tree [closer to the sapwood layer]. They do not have any sapwood except at their extremities, instead of the first cuts, dosse, that have sapwood all over their convex areas. The thickness of the contre-dosse is not precise. It varies from 2 to 4 thumbs. After a log is thus squared, you saw it into thin panels or lumber planks, according to its hardness or softness. You can then judge whether it is appropriate for one or the other. [That is,] [u]nless one cuts planks from the entire width of the tree, especially with soft wood, which I will speak of later.
The double doors of main entrances are ordinarily 12, 15 or even 18 feet long, by 1 foot or 15 thumbs wide, for the longest, and by 4–5 thumbs thick. They are almost always of a hard-quality wood. They should have neither knots nor splits. This may be found in the woods of Vosge, but they are very expensive and very rare.
Lumber for framing is of a length from 6, 9, 12 and 15 feet. They are 6 thumbs wide by 3 thumbs thick. Rafters have the same length as framing, and sometimes more, by 3 to 4 thumbs squared, that is to say, they have as much thickness as their width.
Planks have 6, 9, 12, 15 and even 18 feet of length, by 1 thumb 15 lines, 1–thumb-and-a-half, one thumb-9 lines, and 2 thumbs thickness.
There are also planks of 7 feet length, but they are rarer than the others, and are difficult to find in all thicknesses. With regards to the width of planks of French wood, they vary from 9 thumbs up to 1 foot. However, those of 1–and-one-half thumbs to 2 thumbs are ordinarily a foot wide, and those below this thickness from 9 up to 10 or 11 thumbs at the most.
There is still another type of thin French oak wood, named Entrevoux, which only has but 9–10 lines of thickness, by 6, 7 or 9 feet in length, which is appropriate for making panels, provided that it is soft and beautiful.
For the wood from Vosge, there are all kinds of lengths and thickness of which I spoke above, except that there are none of 6–7 feet, or even less. There are also those of 3 thumbs thickness by 12 feet in length. With regards to its width, that is not fixed, because in all the different lengths and thicknesses of this wood, there are from 6–7 thumbs of width up to 18, 20 and even 26 to 30 thumbs [width]. That is why Merchants do not sell this wood by measurement [of the individual boards], as with the others, but by each row of the lumber stack, which is 4 feet in width.
To facilitate the understanding of widths and thickness of woods for joinery relative to their different lengths, I have attached a table [on the next page] where all the wood types are distinguished according to their length, width and thicknesses.
The wood from Holland is not included in the number of those I have mentioned here because it is only a thin wood, which is sold by the handful or even by the cord. These lengths are of 6, 7, 9 or 12 feet by a thickness of 6 or 9 lines.
The thickest of these woods is called three quarters, because it should have 9 lines thickness, although often it only has 7 or 8 at the most. (The thinner ones are called feuillet [leaf] and are only 4 to 5 lines thick, while it should be 6 lines thick.)
It is to be noted that French wood is always thicker than the wood from Vosge with each sample; that is to say, that the first always has 2–3 lines more than its thickness, such that the wood of 1 thumb sometimes has 14–15 lines [thickness]. On the contrary, the latter [wood] always has 1 line less than it should have, which is a shortcoming. Also it has the advantage of being straighter than the other, and has less waste.
For the battens made of oak, wood Merchants sell them only rarely. Joiners use wood from Holland for thin panels, and they even saw [resaw] them at their shops while on edge, to the thickness and of the quality that they judge to be appropriate.
Pine is not subject to the rules of thickness of which I just spoke, at least that type used in the woodworking of buildings.
That from Auvergne ordinarily is 12 feet in length by 14–15 lines in thickness. Its width varies from 10 to 14–15 thumbs.
That from Lorraine has only 11 feet in length at the most. Its thickness is the same as that from Auvergne, but the most ordinary thickness is from 10–12 lines. Its width varies thus, from that of the latter.
There are also the little leaves of pine from Lorraine, of the same length as the planks, which have from 6 up to 8 lines thickness.
Walnut and elm are not found cut into planks like the other woods. Whenever Joiners have enough money, they buy whole logs which they cut themselves, namely the elm, into slabs of 5 thumbs’ thickness, and the walnut into slabs of 3 thumbs [thickness]. They still saw black walnut to make the panels for tables of 4 lines thickness, which have a width of the whole log, which is sometimes 2–2.5 feet in width.
Beech is found cut into planks of 15–18 lines, and even 2 thumbs thickness by 7, 9 and 12 feet in length. They also sell slabs of this wood for making woodworking benches, tables for the kitchen, and butcher tables, tables that have a length from 7–12, and even 15 feet, by 18–30 thumbs in width, and 5–6 thumbs’ thickness.
Although the wood which one chooses has by itself all the required qualities, it is still necessary to watch out for its preservation. Because wood for joinery should not be used except very dry, it is of the final consequence to Joiners to always be well provisioned with wood of all types, which they keep and dry in their yard before using them.
They should also take care that their yard not be placed too low, nor planted with grass, because the falling and gathering of leaves will prevent the run off of water, which could ruin the wood pile coverings and also the base of a woodpile.
The terrain occupied by the woodpiles should be higher than the rest of the yard, so that water does not collect there. It must be well set up and leveled, after which you put on top some pieces of wood side A, which we call chantier [beam/timber spacers] which has a length the same as the width of the pile – ordinarily 4 feet, although sometimes they make them wider. You make them the greatest thickness possible, so that they make the pile taller with the most possible space between the boards.
You put the spacers distant from each other about 3 feet. Their topsides should be squared and straight, after which you pile the wood on top, after having taken the precaution of putting the worst planks on the lowest level to save the better woods from ground moisture. You make the piles in two ways, according to whether the wood is being dried or is already dry. In the first case, you pile them up to see through, which is done in the following two ways:
The first is to place the planks side by side with a space [between them] about equal to two-thirds of their width, and to separate each row of planks by laths [stickers] f–f, which separates them, prevents them from touching and maintains them in a solid position on top of each other, such that one can stack up the piles up to 20–25 feet in height. (Fig. 1).
The second way to make see-through piles is to make them squarely; that is to say, to give them as much width as the planks are long. You first put a row of planks spaced equally, as in the first way, always such that the width of the row of planks and the additional space between them is equal to their length.
After this, you put on top some planks in another row, in the same order and at a right angle, which means that you have no need for stickers/spacers, and that the planks have more air between them. However, you should not leave them thus piled for a long time, for fear that the wood will rot where the pieces sit on top of each other. (Fig. 2.)
Rafters of 6–9 feet are piled in this fashion, without however being see-through.
The way to pile seasoned wood does not differ from the first of these two ways, except that the planks touch each other side by side, instead of being see-through. You separate each row with some spacers which you put at an equal distance to that of the chantiers which are three feet apart, so that the planks are always straight and do not warp. However, this last term signifies more of a hollowed-out plank along its width [cupping] than a warping [bowing].
The top of the pile is covered with planks positioned to overlap one on top of the other; one of the ends of which is positioned on another plank (side a, Fig. 4) which is called l’egout de la couverture [not quite like a gutter but more like a rain diverter] and which lies flat upon the pile. One should note, however, that it overhangs the front of the pile by 3 or 4 thumbs, and that it slopes a bit to the outside, in order to facilitate the runoff of any water. You raise it up a bit at the back to create this effect. The other end of the planks of the cover hold a piece of wood b, which is named chevet [or riser], which is positioned on edge on two pieces of wood c, in which a notch is placed, and which is stopped with wedges d, in order that it not turn. The chevet should be a foot and a half tall at least, so that the water accumulates less on the piles.
The middle of the covering should be supported by a piece of wood e, which is placed above the pile, and the two planks along the sides rs, rs should be wider by 3 or 4 thumbs than the two sides of the pile, so that the water does not fall back along its length.
When you wish to make the piles more than 4 feet thickness, you should take care to put the spacers in concert (that is, you place them such that the total length of two spacers is more than 4 feet, which is the length of the laths), overlapping such that it maintains the solidity of the pile. You will need to take care to keep everything straight and vertical in all directions, so as to avoid accidents that its fall might cause.
For thin wood, like the wood from Holland, the battens of oak and of pine, the custom is not to pile them in the open air in the middle of the yard, but to pile them under sheds and above the shop where the workers work, the reason being, they say, that they are preserved better. I believe, in spite of this practice, that they would be better in the yard, where they will receive the air from all sides, and where they will not be exposed to insects [powder-post beetles etc.].
As to their preservation, I believe they run no danger being out in the air. The piles of wood from Holland, which reside for a long time in the wood lots of the Port of Hopital and of Rapee without any damage, are surely guarantees of the truth of what I advance here.
What I am saying here is only general. I know perfectly well that all woodworkers cannot have
great wood yards nor large provisions of wood. But still, for reasons of economy, they should always do their best to be well prepared with samples, and to watch over their preservation as best as they can, so as not to be obliged to have to buy some from the Merchants. The wood that they sell is almost never dry, and the woodworker will pay dearly for what the wood Merchants have.
The more wood is hard, the more time it takes to dry. That is why one should not reasonably use wood that has not been cut at least 8 years in order to be able to do good work. It is not necessary, however, that it be too dry, especially for pieces of joinery, where the wood has no more sap and where the humidity is totally expunged: this cannot be appropriate. [Once the sap no longer is flowing from the lumber and the moisture has departed there is no need to season the lumber any further.]
The Fauteuil [armchair] that I am going to describe is one of those that is called a Cabriolet, because of the circular shape of its plan, [which is] different from that of the Queen’s Fauteuils [armchair], which is straight from the side of the back, as one could see in the view of which I made the description of the Queen’s Chair, page 614, etc.
I have chosen this form so that in the description of chairs and fauteuils [side chairs and armchairs], I am not required to repeat myself. What I said of the Queen’s Chairs can be applied to armchairs of the first type. What I am going to say about cabriolets can be applied to side chairs of the second.
Cabriolets are the seating [that is] the most fashionable at present, and at the same time demand the most attention on the part of the Worker, especially with regards to their construction and the cutting of the wood for the back, which being circular in plan and splayed, forms a part of the surface in a tapering shape, which the Joiners call faire la hotte [make the hood. “Unehotte” is a reference to the type of large conical basket splayed toward the top – like the back of the armchair – you cut a cone in half on its center and there you have it, a “hotte” and the back of the armchair].
To make these sorts of armchairs with all the perfection that it is possible to accomplish, one must first begin by taking account of the shape of the plan, which normally is an S in the front, and in a half-circle, or better said, a half-oval in the rear, like in Fig. 5 and Fig. 8, which represent half of the plan Fig. 5, a half larger than the latter, so as to make the operations more sensible.
After having thus drawn this plan of Fig. 8 (the half could be taken for the whole) at about 15 thumbs from the front of the seat on the line from the middle a b, you raise a perpendicular c d, which you set at 11 thumbs in height. Then from point d to point e, which is the center of the part of the circle of the back of the seat, you take a line e f, which represents the middle of the rear leg, to both sides of which line you trace the width of the rear leg parallel to the latter. Whatever be the flare, or to speak like the Workers, the reverse [the angle/tilt] of the back, the face of the upright should always present itself perpendicularly to the curve of the seat where the exterior contour is indicated by lines g, g, g and the interior (at least of the cross-pieces) by h, h, h. Then there remains to draw on the plan the length of the back seat rails and their splay. This cannot be done except after taking into account the height of the back and the form of its contours that you must first draw separately on the surface developed from the back, which is done in the following manner:
The splay of the back being determined, as in Fig. 5 from a b, from these points you lift two perpendiculars on the line of the middle of the seat, which parallels you extend indefinitely outside of the Figure. From point e, (which is the center of the arc of the back of the plan), you lift up likewise a perpendicular parallel to these latter, which you extend indefinitely on both sides. Then, at whatever distance, like in Fig. 4, you lift from this line perpendiculars f g, and g d, of which distance f g is equal to the height of the back. Then, from point d, you pass an oblique line by point h, that you extend until it meets line g f e i at point i (which is found outside the plate), from which point like the center and distances i f and i g, you describe the circular arcs f m, and g n, Fig. 4. This being done, you take on the plan, Fig. 5, the distance a l, that you transfer, Fig. 4, from f to o. From this point and from point i, you pass a line o p, which is the middle of the rear leg. You draw this as usual for both the curves and the meeting of the back rails, whether this curve is of a normal form like side A, on which I just made the demonstration, or even if it is an oval like on side B, which is no matter. The only exception is when the upright must be wider within, which I will speak of in its turn.
The curve of the back being thus drawn, you draw separately, Fig. 7, the upright of the back (which is double the proportion of Fig. 4 in order to correspond to the plan in Fig. 8), that you extend just to the total height of the back. Then you draw on the upright all the locations of rails, both at the top and bottom at their greatest width, as indicated by points a, b, c, d, from which points you lower the line i l, as many perpendiculars as the distances on this line are carried over to the plan of Fig. 8; namely, that of i h, Fig. 7, from I to 2; that of i g, from 1 to 3, which gives the splay of the bottom back rail, that of i f, from 1 to 4; and that of i e, from 1 to 5; which gives the splay of the top rail, which you draw, like the other, with the circular arcs described from center e, Fig. 8.
The lower sections of these rear legs is nothing different from the others of which I already spoke; it is only that the serpentine leg is more splayed to the outside so as to make more of a stable position to the seat, what the Joiners call shoring up [to brace], which should be 2 thumbs at least.
I said above that armchairs differ from side chairs in that the first have these armrests intended for the elbows of those who are seated within. These armrests are composed of an arm a, Fig. 3, of a bracket b, which is assembled at one end to the side seat rail and the others in the arm, which is assembled itself by mortise and tenon on the upright, with which you should take care to make it match in a smooth and gracious manner, as I have noted in Figs. 1, 2 & 3.
The assembly of the arms with the uprights is done squarely, but I believe that whatever the use, one would do very well to make a cut [an angled shoulder], which, by preventing the inconveniences of squared cuts of which I spoke above, renders the work more solid, in that the cut from below would support the arm and would prevent it from dropping further down.
The arms of Fauteuils are drawn on the plan, as are the rails of the back, with the exception that they are not splayed except at the end where they connect with the upright, the other being perpendicular, which gives it an awkward form that you must keep square, as I have indicated by punctuated lines m n and o p, Fig. 7. See also Figs. 5 & 8, where these arms are drawn on the plan, as well as the brackets, of which I will make a more extensive description afterward in speaking of the different sorts of arms of Fauteuils and their brackets.
The Fauteuil of which I am making the description here is prepared to receive a caned seat, as you can see in Fig. 1, which represents it viewed from the side. That of Fig. 2 represents it viewed from the face, the side A completely disassembled and ready for cutting out, and the other side B completely cut out and assembled but for the seat, which is installed only after being finish with the cane, because the tenon of the bracket passes through it to be pegged in the side seat rail.
See also Fig. 6, which represents the rear seat rail of the armchair which receives the seat, as I explained up above, and Fig. 8, where I indicated by punctuated lines i, i, i, the outside of the frame of the seat, of which the projection ends at both uprights, and where the interior indicated by lines l, l, l is wider at the rear to leave solid wood in front of the upright.
I said up above that the frames of seats are assembled en chapeau [capped] from the front. However, I believe that for the neatness of the work, it would be much better to assemble them mitered in the front, like line l i, and at the rear when they are curved, as in this instance by a forked joint [bridle joint], at the space of the notch of the rear feet. The height of Fauteuils is a bit the same as that of side chairs with the exception that the seat should be a bit lower and consequently the back higher in proportion, especially when they are more splayed.
As to their width, they should be more considerable than that of side chairs given that it is necessary that the person who is seated within be contained comfortably with their clothes. That is why you make some width to the seat of Fauteuils from 22 to 26 thumbs by 18 to 20 thumbs of depth, at least for ordinary Fauteuils, that is to say, in public rooms. For those that serve in particular for a single person, one must, as I said above, consult that person’s taste and needs.
The size and the cut of wood for ordinary armchairs is nothing different from that of side chairs, if only in the case of cabriolets, the rails of the backs should be cut according to their tilt, or better said, their splay, which you can do by drawing the top and the bottom with some templates, of which you should have the curve on the plan, in backing them off [to the back] as necessary. What’s more, you could, without any type of loss, take the top and the bottom rails from the same piece of lumber, sawn as nestled patterns, which is very easy to do given that they are of different curves, such that the outside of one can be the inside of the other, at least pretty close.
There you have a bit of the detail of an armchair (and consequently of a cabriolet chair), after which one could construct all sorts of seats, of whatever form they be, given that the method that I just gave for the construction and manner of drawing it here is applicable to all with some minor differences. I have greatly expanded the manner of drawing, both the plan and the elevation, of these sorts of seats, so as to be within reach of the greatest number. They would have not understood me if I would not have been so expansive if I had simply said, as would seem completely natural, that the development of the backs of seats [of cabriolet arm chairs] is only being one part of the surface of a truncated cone, of which the incline is given by the back and is elongated just to its meeting of the center of the seat which represents the axis of the cone, which determines the crown and consequently the center of its development. This simplicity supposes of my readers (at least of ordinary Joiners) some knowledge which they cannot or do not want to acquire, whether I have given the elementary principles in the second part of this work, at the beginning of the Art of Drawing. That is why I believed it necessary, to be available to all, to make all demonstrations that appeared appropriate for saving time of those who would not acquire other knowledge than that of practice, which, for as little as is reasonable, is barely sufficient in the part that I am treating.
What’s more, Chair Joiners do not take all the precautions that I recommend here for drawing the plan or elevation of their works, which [they do by] sawing as accurately as possible, and that they assemble without dressing them, for cutting them out later, after having assembled them, which they do badly. But finally it is their custom and they will not change from that easily.