We have opened pre-publication ordering for “The Woodworker’s Pocket Book,” which is currently at the printer and is expected to ship in March. This important reference book is $13 and is built to withstand daily use in a hand-tool shop.
This book has been a long-time coming, and I think you’ll be thrilled with the thing.
We also have just restocked on bandanas. These are green, feature a new design from Tom Bonamici and – most importantly – come from a new maker. One Feather Press in East Nashville cuts, sews, prints and washes these bandanas all by hand in a shed. And they are printed on both sides.
‘The Woodworker’s Pocket Book,’ edited by Charles H. Hayward “The Woodworker’s Pocket Book” is small – just 4” x 6-1/2” – but it contains 112 pages of critical woodworking information for the hand-tool woodworker.
Edited by the great Charles H. Hayward and published in 1949, “The Woodworker’s Pocket Book” is a guide to everything from finishing recipes to drawing ellipses to choosing the correct screw or nail.
We own several versions of this book, as it was regularly updated and republished. After reading through all of the versions, we decided to reprint the original edition (with permission, of course). This edition is packed with drawings from Hayward and doesn’t deal much with the metric system, sharpening high-speed steel sawblades or pulley sizes for your machines. In other words, it’s for the woodworker who likes working by hand using fractions, inches and feet.
Also appealing to us is the small size of the book – it literally fits in your back pocket. We recommend keeping it in your tool chest or tool cabinet. It belongs in the shop and is more like a tool than a book.
To ensure the book’s long life, we made sure this book is designed for a shop environment. All our books’ signatures are sewn and taped for durability. We wrapped this one in high-density boards and picked a durable paper that improves on the original’s paper.
Like all our books, “The Woodworker’s Pocket Book” is printed in the United States.
You can read a complete index of the book’s contents here.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. I’m sorry there is no PDF of this book available. We were not able to acquire the electronic rights to the material.
One of the perplexing questions which the cabinet maker appears to have never settled definitely is: should drawer fronts stand out slightly in front of the carcase and the bearers, or should they stand back with a slight break? Here are a few notes which may assist readers in deciding the question.
At Fig. 1 the drawer projects beyond the bearers and at the same time forms a rebate or lap around the drawer proper which is more or less dustproof. In cheap work the projecting front is applied, in which case the drawer is through dovetailed at each corner and, when completed and run into position, the 3/8 in. or 1/2 in. front piece is applied and glued in position. If shrinkage occurs in the drawer boxing, the applied piece hides the joint owing to its overlap.
There is, however, likely to be one defect when the drawer is open. Owing to atmospheric changes, and the continual opening and shutting, the polished front edges of the bearers are apt to become marked by the overlapping portion of the drawer front (see arrow).
At Fig. 2 the drawer front stands in about 3/32 in., and this method is the one most generally used. The usual trouble with this type is that the polisher neglects to fill in, stain and polish the inside edges of the bearers and carcase ends to the same degree of efficiency as the drawer fronts, etc. (see arrow). The result is that the continued use of the drawer quickly wears away the polish on the break and the job appears shabby.
The moulding around the drawer front is worked in a variety of shapes and the drawer front has the appearance of a fielded panel. If the face of this fielded panel happens to be veneered there is very little fear that the edges of the veneer will chip away, because it does not come in contact with the bearers.
If the drawer front has square edges and is not fielded, the veneer is liable to chip at the edges which come in contact with the bearers.
Fig. 3 is a very successful method for drawer fronts. Here the drawer front stands 1/16 in. to 1/8 in. forward and the break (see arrow) on the drawer front does not rub against the bearers or the carcase end. The polisher rarely neglects to obtain a good finish on this top edge of the drawer (which usually carries the lock) and when filling in and staining the front of the drawer sufficient material creeps over the ends of the front to ensure a decent finish on the end grain. This appears to be a fairly satisfactory method and the edge of the polished drawer front is not worn away by the continued opening and closing action. The idea, of course, works out the same even if the drawer front is a square edged one; that is, without any moulding around it.
At Fig. 4 we come to what is probably the oldest and best method of protecting a veneered drawer front. This is known as the cocked bead method and is frequently found on Queen Anne furniture. Around the drawer front a rebate is formed and into this the beads (C) are glued. In some cases they are also pinned. The beads have one rounded edge and are mitred at each corner. The projection when polished is not defaced by friction and the edges of the veneered front do not come in contact with the bearers or the carcase ends during the travel of the drawer.
A somewhat unusual method is given at Fig. 5. It is costly to produce and calls for very fine craftsmanship. The edges of the bearers and the inside edges of the carcase ends have a mould worked upon them. The bearers are twin-tenoned into the ends (see Fig. 6) and all the moulded edges are mitred together. Thus we have the mouldings worked upon the solid portions of the carcase and bearers instead of working the moulding on to the drawer fronts. The drawer front usually forms a break with the mouldings by an inset of 1/16 in.
Drawer fronts may be stopped in their required positions by fixing two rectangular pieces about 1/8 in. thick immediately behind the lower edge of the drawer front; or they may be stopped by fixing suitable pieces of wood to engage the back ends of the drawer sides. In either case the worker should arrange the stops so that no shrinkage will take place.
The construction of a drawer seems a straightforward and fairly obvious piece of work; there is an accepted way of making it which experience has proved reliable. Yet drawers were not always made in this way, and it is extremely interesting to see how woodworkers of past ages solved the problem of making and sliding them.
It was not until the 17th century that drawers in furniture were used to any extent. The chest of drawers was entirely unknown, and it is with something of astonishment that one comes to realise that through all the centuries previously men had been content to bundle out the entire contents of a chest in order to reach something at the bottom. When the idea did come, however, its advantages were quickly realised, and from the middle of the century the chest of drawers became established and has remained popular ever since.
Most early drawers were supported by the rather curious method shown in Fig. 1. A groove was worked along the side, this fitting over a runner fixed to the carcase side. It seems a little strange that the method should have been adopted because it must have meant more bother than putting runners between the drawers; furthermore the grooves rather weakened the sides. Still, they used thicker sides then than we think necessary to-day.
The actual construction is really very crude. The front is rebated at ends and bottom, and the sides glued and nailed on. So also is the bottom, which fits in the rebate at the front and is merely butted beneath the sides. The entire weight of the contents is taken by the nails holding the bottom. Occasionally one comes across a piece made by a man who had ventured into the mysteries of dovetailing. In Fig. 2, for instance, is a drawer which is lap-dovetailed at the front and has a through dovetail at the back. The bottom is attached in the same way as before, but since this actually rests upon the runners there is no strain on the rails. The weakness, of course, is that as the wood wears away the nails are left in projection and so score the runners.
Both the foregoing examples are of oak furniture. During the second half of the century walnut gradually superseded oak, though it was mostly used in veneer form. Oak remained the chief wood for linings, however, and thus it is in the drawer in Fig. 3—the sides, back and bottom are of oak. In some instances oak was used for the groundwork of the front also, but it was soon realised that it was not the ideal wood for veneering. It was too coarse in the grain, and, owing to the presence of the medullary rays, which were harder than the rest of the wood, marks were liable to show through to the surface owing to unequal shrinkage. Consequently deal was mainly used for the fronts as in Fig. 3. Dovetails are used here, but they are of a very coarse type and run right through, a poor way of doing the job because the exposed end grain at the front offers a poor grip for the veneer. Furthermore, the joint eventually shows through at the front, owing to the front shrinking and leaving the dovetails standing up. The example is interesting, however, in that the sides as well as the front are rebated to hold the bottom.
As men’s skill increased they began to make altogether neater dovetails, and in the next example in Fig. 4, which dates from the early 18th century, an altogether more refined construction is apparent. In fact it is really the beginning of the modern way of drawer making. Note how the dovetails are lapped at the front, and how narrow the pins are between the dovetails. They run almost to a point. A rebate is still worked in the sides to hold the bottom, but the interesting point is that the maker has realised the desirability of raising the bottom slightly to prevent it from sagging and rubbing on the drawer rail. He has accomplished this by making the rebate extra deep and fitting a slip beneath. The advantage is two-fold, for, apart from raising the bottom, the slip gives a wider bearing surface and so reduces wear.
The practical reader will realise that the front is rebated to hold the bottom, this being evident from the half-dovetail cut at the bottom, the purpose of which, of course, is to conceal the rebate. At the back the bottom passes beneath the back.
Note incidentally that the grain of the bottom runs from back to front as in the previous examples.
In this particular example a cocked bead is fitted around the front, rebates being cut all round to accommodate it. As a matter of passing interest we may note that later in the century the rebate was worked at sides and bottom only. At the top the bead extended the full width so that no joint was visible. The small sketch at A, Fig. 4, shows how a slip of walnut was let into a rebate when a projecting thumb moulding was needed. The veneer at the front concealed the joint.
Fig 5 dates from the late 18th century, and here the bottom is fitted into grooves in sides and front. Otherwise the construction is similar to the previous example. We may consider here why the groove was used in place of the rebate. It has been pointed out that in previous example’s the grain of the bottom ran from back to front, and the reason for this was that, since most drawers were wider than they were deep, the grain ran across the shortest distance and was therefore stronger. This meant, however, that the bottom was most liable to split owing to the great width running across the grain. By grooving the sides and allowing the grain to run from side to side, there was no need to fix the bottom except at the back. It was thus free to shrink without being liable to split. In any case, there was less distance across the grain to shrink. To prevent any sagging in wide drawers a centre muntin of stouter stuff could be fixed. The likelihood of this being the reason for the change is shown by the fact that in nearly all drawers in which the grain of the bottom runs from back to front and is fixed rigidly the joints have opened.
There was, however, one weakness in the grooved sides. They were weakened by being cut practically half-way through, and the only bearing surface was that of the drawer side thickness. This accounts for the introduction in the early years of the 19th century of the drawer bottom slip moulding, A, Fig. 6. The side was not weakened and the bearing surface was approximately doubled. The alternative form was introduced later.
Recently we came across an old type of bow-saw which had been sent to a veteran village carpenter for repair. Its precise origin could not be traced except that, a couple of generations ago, it had come from the estate workshop of a north-country peer. The feature of the tool is an ingenious method of tightening the saw when special rigidity is required. As, too, the saw frame could be made at home, a brief description may be of interest.
The arms (A), of 7/8 in. beech, are about 21-1/2 ins. long, shaped as indicated. Width at top (extreme) is 1-3/4 ins. and at the blade end 1-1/2 ins. The arms are chamfered as shown for comfortable handling, bored for the 1/4 in. top rod, slotted for the saw and notched for the cross stay (B). This latter is of 7/8 in. by 5/8 in., the 5/8 in. width showing on face.
The saw blade is 2-1/4 ins. wide, toothed as shown, and the threaded straining rods have the type of swivel indicated for tightening. The saw may be used for any kind of cross-cutting, plank or round timber, up to a thickness of over 9 ins.
Tightening Device. Turning to Fig. 2, it will be seen that this bow-saw is provided with a second cross-stay (C) which, with the saw shortened, can be fitted to exert special pressure on the blade.
This extra stay is the same as (B) except that it is shaped from a length of beech 1-1/2 ins. wide full by 5/8 in., the swell in the middle being required for piercing on the bevel. This bevel is shown in detail. The stay (B) passes through the bevelled aperture in stay (C), extra notches being cut in the arms (at E) to receive the short tenons on the stays.
The advantage of these crossing stays will be obvious. When the saw blade is adjusted to length, the cross stays fitted and the straining rod tightened, extra strong pressure is applied to the arms at the points XX and the saw will remain rigid for the heaviest work.
In its normal position (Fig 1), the frame, over all, measures fully 2 ft. 6 ins., the height being about 1 ft. 8-1/2 ins.
On the saw described the extra cross stay (C), instead of being thicknessed at the middle, is fitted with an iron collar 4-1/2 ins. long, as at Fig. 3. The opening in this collar has bevelled sides through which the other stay (B) passes. The stay (C) is of course in two parts, both bevelled to fit tightly into the collar. It is believed that the original stay was thicknessed as in Fig. 2, and that the collar was added later as a repair. The collar itself represents an exceptionally neat piece of ironwork.
A sense of orderliness in woodworking is an important factor contributing to good work. For instance, the bench should be clear of tools, excepting those in immediate use, and when a tool is no longer required it should be replaced in the rack or tool chest. By far the most convenient arrangement is to have a tool cupboard fixed to a wall at the back of the bench and above its level so that shavings are not swept into the cupboard. With such an arrangement, the tools are within easy reach of the worker and, when not required, can be safely stored.
In the tool cabinet shown in Figs. 1 and 2, the tools in frequent use are arranged so as to be close at hand. The heavy tools are accommodated in the cabinet proper, and the relatively light ones in the boxed-in-doors; thus, no undue strain is placed on the latter. The three drawers are intended for screws, nails, and various small tools. As most workers prefer to use a combination plane instead of separate tools for such operations as ploughing, rebating, etc., a space is provided for the box in which the tool is usually kept. It will be noticed that the saws are placed edge-wise in the cabinet.
This effects considerable economy in space as compared with the usual method of laying them flat. Incidentally, the tools shown comprise a useful kit, enabling a variety of work to be done.
As chisels are more in use than gouges, the former are placed on the right hand side of the cabinet and the gouges to the left. It will be seen that the setting-out tools are together on the right hand side, excepting the marking and mortise gauges. All of the tools will be easily recognised, except perhaps the bevel shown at Fig. 3 (a).
The tools shown in Fig. 3 are all drawn to scale and the cabinet is dimensioned to suit the layout of the tools.
Construction. The carcase, Fig. 5, can be made from 7/8 in. stuff, finishing 3/4 in. As the cabinet is divided by shelves and partitions, a good fixing for the back can be obtained; therefore this may be of 3/16 in. ply. It is not possible to form the carcase and door frames in one and separate one from the other, as would be done in making a box, since the two doors frames have to fit closely where they meet centrally. If they were made with the carcase, sufficient material would not be available for cleaning off, to obtain a good fit. If possible, it is advisable to true up the stuff for both door frames together and rip the stuff down for the sides and ends for each frame. Rebated joints will suffice for the sides and ends of the carcase, and also for those of the door frames. The parts, of course, could be dovetailed.
The partitions (b) and (c) are secured by stop housing; as also are the shelves (d), (e), (f ), and (g). Although this may seem an unnecessary elaboration, it is well worth while since, if the grooves are set out accurately, the shelves will be found to be parallel and no trouble will be found in fitting the drawers. This might not be the case if the parts were nailed together. The plywood back is fixed and pinned in a rebate, as shown in Fig. 6, and it will be necessary to reduce the width of the shelves and partition by an amount equal to the depth of the rebate. The drawer rails which can be 1-1/2 in. by 3/4 in. are ploughed on their near edge, as shown in Fig. 7, the ends of the runners being tenoned into the grooves. The rails and runners are glued together and pinned to the side of the cabinet and the partition (c).
Drawers. The construction of the drawers is shown in Fig. 8. The fronts are made from 3/4 in. stuff and the sides 3/8 in., the back being of similar thickness. For the bottom 3/16 in. ply is suitable. This is ploughed into the front and sides and pinned from underneath to the back. If it is desired to have one or more partitions, it is best to stop house them into the front and back, as shown, rather than nail them in position.
If the worker is uncertain of making a success of the lapped dovetails, the fronts could be rebated at the ends and the sides secured in the rebates by gluing and nailing, using 1-1/2 in. oval nails. If possible, 3/8 in. or 5/16 in. ply should be used for the door panels, as ply of the thickness stated will enable the outside edges of the doors to be rounded which will have the effect of improving the appearance of the cabinet.
Tool Supports and Racks. The profile of one of the spokeshave racks is shown in Fig. 9. In order to avoid short fibres, the grain should run lengthwise. The semi-circular rests can be formed by boring with centre bits according to the size of the spokeshaves, and then cutting to shape with a bowsaw and finishing with scribing gouge and chisel. Fig. 10 shows one of the supports for the hammer. The two are made together by boring a central hole and then cross cutting.
In order to position the rip and handsaws in their pocket a block is positioned centrally, Fig. 3, the blades of the saws resting in saw cuts in the block. The block is shown in Fig. 11. The tenon and dovetail saws are hung on a wooden peg which should be slightly recessed on its upper surface in order to prevent the saws slipping off the end of the peg.
The formation of the other supports and racks will be clear from Figs. 3 and 5. As it will be difficult to obtain a good fixing for the supports and racks from the front, it is a good plan to first glue them in position and then when the glue is set pin or screw each from the back, taking careful measurement in order that the pins or screws will enter each part.
Finishing the Cabinet. A pleasing form of handle for each of the doors is shown in Fig. 12. A recess is cut with a gouge on each side and the projecting edges of the handles are rounded. The handles are secured by gluing and screwing from the back. A satisfactory finish to the cabinet can be obtained by sizing and then applying two coats of knotting, or, alternatively, the cabinet can be painted according to the taste of the worker.
As the cabinet with its tools is of considerable weight, it would be as well to support it on two iron brackets, the attachment to the wall being effected by plates positioned towards the top of the cabinet.