When we sent our first book, “The Art of Joinery,” to press 15 years ago, I was teaching a class at Kelly Mehler’s School of Woodworking in Kentucky and got a phone call from the pre-press shop.
“The interior folio looks fine,” the voice said. “But what are you going to put on the cover?”
I stood there, dumbfounded. John and I hadn’t even thought about the cover.
So on my lunch break I grabbed my laptop and whipped up the cover above in about 15 minutes. I laid out the text and thought: Should we put some image on the cover? I quickly scanned through the images in the book and – with about two seconds of thought – threw the dividers on there. I sent the cover to pre-press and ran back to finish the class.
And that is how we got our company’s logo – dividers.
Believe it or not, it took a while for us to catch on that our books needed cover images. When I worked in corporate publishing, the cover and title were things that were settled and discussed by people way above my pay grade. So it wasn’t something I thought much about.
These days I spend more time working on the cover – though we don’t fret over the marketing aspect of it. Like all aspects of our books, the cover is a joint decision between the author and me. So many times the cover is remarkably unmarketable. Which I love.
Now that we have Megan on board as the full-time editor, I have more time to breathe, think and look beyond the flaming crisis of the day. So this week I spent some time redesigning the cover of “The Essential Woodworker” by Robert Wearing, which is one of our core books. We are in the process of reprinting it for its 11th printing, and I don’t know when the new cover will appear. Likely this fall. And I don’t know if the cover cloth will be blue. Cloth shortages are wreaking havoc with our titles. (Have you seen the new cloth on “With the Grain?” I like it, but it wasn’t our first choice – or our eighth.)
The following is excerpted from “The Essential Woodworker,” by Robert Wearing. In our opinion, “The Essential Woodworker” is one of the best books on hand-tool usage written in the post-Charles Hayward era. Wearing was classically trained in England as a woodworker and embraced both power and hand tools in his shop and in his teaching.
The mortices should be cut before sawing the tenons, as the latter are more liable to suffer accidental damage before assembly. It is not good practice to grip the work in the vice because then it cannot be tested for verticality, and if it is driven down in the vice during the process, it can become scored. Instead, cramp the work to a morticing block (Fig 106a) with G-cramps or handscrews. The block can be gripped in the vice (Fig 106b) or bolted to the bench (Fig 106c). This method is particularly useful when the bench has a front apron which prevents cramping. The morticing block is useful when the workpiece is small and thin.
Fig 107a shows how a shallow trench can be cut before beginning the mortice proper. Simply lean on the chisel until there is a crunch, then wipe the chisel across (Fig 107b) removing the small chips. The chisel can now be positioned without effort. Before starting to chop, put a depth mark on the chisel (a piece of masking tape will do). If two mortices are to be cut (Fig 108), two depth marks are required (Fig 109). Do not cut the first mortice to full depth or the second will be chopped over a hole and the inside corner may break away (Fig 110). The first mortice should be chopped to a reduced depth (Fig 111) then the second to full depth, thus avoiding this risk.
Having cramped the work securely to the block, drive in the chisel near one end of the mortice, bevel towards the centre (Fig 112). Check that it is vertical by placing a small straightedge against the true face (Fig 113); a longer rule will foul the handle. Withdraw the chisel, turn it round and drive in again with the bevel towards the hole. Push forward to break off the chip, then lever it out. Continue the sequence of drive in (Fig 114), break off the chip (Fig 115) then lever out (Fig 116). Continue almost to the end of the mortice, leaving a small piece of waste on which to lever. Frequently check that the chisel is vertical. Reverse the chisel and proceed to the other end. Continue the method, backwards and forwards until full depth has been reached (Fig 117). Finally chop down the ends at the knife marks, break off and remove the chip without bruising the ends.
Accuracy of depth can be tested by using an adjustable depth gauge or an improvized wooden one (Fig 118). If there is a haunch socket, this is chopped in the same way, right to the end of the component as in Fig 108. The mortice cannot be narrower than the width of the chisel, so it follows that any whittling of the sides of the mortice to neaten it will make it oversize. Keep the chisel vertical and do not permit it to twist as this will also result in an oversize mortice. The practice of first drilling a row of holes and then opening them up neither saves time nor produces a more accurate mortice.
Every year, your spouse and friends ask us which books they should buy for you during the holidays. And if they aren’t sure which book you want, they ask us: “Well, which books are your best-sellers?”
Until today, I had only a gut feeling about it, but I’d never really looked at the statistics. After some ciphering, I came up with a list that had a few surprises.
10. Doormaking and Window Making by Anonymous. This was a shock. This small book is a reprint of two historical texts brought to our attention by joiner Richard Arnold. It found an audience among people who restore old buildings.
9. Campaign Furniture by Christopher Schwarz. This book is one of the few in print on this style of furniture, which my grandparents collected for many years. I’ve been told by readers that it is a nice text on classical casework.
8. Kitchen Think by Nancy Hiller. I was a little surprised by this one because it was released in the summer of 2020. It’s a fantastic book, as is everything Nancy writes. If you are interested in how to design (and build) a kitchen that is in context for your house, this is the book.
7. By Hand & Eye by Jim Tolpin and George Walker. This one is no surprise. Ever since this book was released, it has continually found new audiences who are interested in designing good-looking furniture using whole-number ratios.
6. The Anarchist’s Workbench by Christopher Schwarz. On the one hand, I am not surprised to see this book on the list. It is, after all, about workbenches (the birdhouses of the intermediate woodworker clan). But on the other hand, the book is free as a pdf. Free.
5. The Woodworker’s Pocket Book edited by Charles Hayward. I love this little book. I knew it would be a home run among woodworkers, and I was (for once) correct.
4. With the Grain by Christian Becksvoort. This book is immensely popular because it is incredibly practical and avoids the heavy science stuff, but it still tells you exactly what you need to know to use solid wood in furniture effectively.
3. The Essential Woodworker by Robert Wearing. This book is a classic and should be on the shelves of every woodworker who is curious about hand-tool woodworking. We fought hard to bring it back into print, and readers have been thrilled as well.
2. The Anarchist’s Design Book by Christopher Schwarz. I am so happy to see this book on this list. This book took so many years to write and get just right. I feel like it’s the right combination of practical construction advice and a screed about poorly made and overly ornate furniture.
1. The Anarchist’s Tool Chest by Christopher Schwarz. This book helped us get this company on its feet and the capital to publish the works of other authors. Even after 10 years, this book still sells and sells – thanks to word of mouth.
On a last note, please remember that we are a small publisher (we recently graduated to “small publisher,” up from “microscopic publisher”). So none of these books would make a blip on the screens of a corporate publisher. And our annual revenue could easily be found between the couch cushions of the CEO of Penguin/Random House.
Maybe someday we’ll hit the Medium Time – with a book on birdhouses.
Robert Wearing’s “The Essential Woodworker” was the second Lost Art Press book, and it was a lesson for us in how badly publishers treat authors. First, let me say that Wearing’s book is one of the most important books on out there on hand-tool woodworking (read about my first encounter with it here).
The original publisher of the book had let it go out of print. When that happened, they were supposed to return the photos or drawings to the author. But they didn’t. And then they claimed they had lost all the original materials – breaking one of the essential covenants of publishing. Wearing, in the meantime, was living on a fixed income in an assisted-living facility.
So John and I went to work. We wrested rights from the original publisher and set about to rebuild the book without any of the original materials. We typed the entire book back into the computer, scanned and edited every illustration and recreated all the photos that had been lost. And we created an entirely new layout.
The process took a couple years, but we are proud to say that Wearing then received a royalty for every one of the 37,000 copies we’ve printed since 2010. And his estate now receives these royalties.
For me, “The Essential Woodworker” was the landmark book that connected all the dots about hand-tool woodworking into a cohesive explanation as to how the craft works. You can read it in an afternoon, but its lessons will stick with you for the rest of your life. The illustrations are brilliant.
Bringing Wearing’s book back into print led us into our first massive republishing project: The Woodworker series by Charles H. Hayward. You can read more about that series of important books here.
The following step-by-step instructions on how to hinge a door are perfectly indicative of Wearing’s clear instructions and illustrations. We miss Robert, but we are happy that his book lives on to help others.
— Christopher Schwarz
Hingeing a door
The majority of doors are fitted with butt hinges (Fig 434) – for best-quality work they should be solid drawn brass not folded or merely plated. The illustration shows the two styles: the manufactured, broad suite (B) and the narrow suite (A), the second being more commonly used for furniture. The broad suite type is useful when a door is slightly outset, because in this case if a narrow suite hinge is used, the screws are liable to come too close to the carcase edge.
Three gauge settings will be used in the marking out (Fig 435, A, B and C). Three separate gauges, though not essential, save time and re-setting. Note that in setting A the gauge point should be just short of the hinge pin centre; 1mm (1/32in.) is about right.
The location of the hinges is important, particularly for their appearance. On a framed door the hinge lines up with the inside edge of the rail (Fig 436A). On a flush door the hinge is generally placed at its own length from the end (Fig 436B). The same rules apply to the hinges on a planted door (Fig 437). Hinges let into both door and carcase (Fig 438A) interrupt the straight line between door and carcase. In Fig 438B the hinge is let into the door only, preserving the continuous line, a more pleasing effect.
Mark the door first (Fig 439). The length is taken from the hinge itself and marked with a knife and square. Gauge the hinge width, A, on the edge and from the outside, i.e. the true face. Gauge the thickness, B, on the face. It is vital that this size is not exceeded otherwise the door will not close fully; if it is slightly undersize, the lesser evil, there will be a gap between the door and carcase which can be corrected. An overdeep socket will need packing up with veneer or card, or filling in and a fresh start, all unsightly.
The socket is formed by making a number of sawcuts (Fig 440) then removing the waste with a broad chisel (Fig 441). Notice that the socket reduces in depth towards the back where it finishes to a depth C, the thickness of the hinge leaf. Obviously this cannot be gauged, it must be found by trying the hinge. A socket too deep here will not affect the door closing but only its appearance. However the knuckle end is most critical as has already been mentioned. A block cramped to the door will prevent the chisel from accidentally bursting through.
Brass hinges need brass screws. With very hard woods it is easier to insert steel ones first, preferably one gauge smaller; these are replaced by brass when the hingeing is completed. Hinges sometimes need extra countersinking to ensure that the head does not stand proud. Provisionally fit the hinges to the door with only one screw in place.
The door with its hinges is located in the carcase, standing on one thickness of the packing card. Mark the hinge position on the carcase and remove the door. Square these marks onto the inside and gauge the hinge width, A (Fig 442). Chop a chisel lightly across the grain in the manner of the sawcuts in Fig 440, remove the bulk of the waste and trim back the socket carefully to the lines. The maximum depth (Fig 443B) is the total hinge leaf thickness (Fig 435B). Again slight excess will not harm the fitting. Nothing must be removed at the carcase edge. Fix the hinge with one screw. Note that pilot holes for the screws must be drilled at right angles to the sloping bottoms of the sockets not to the face of the carcase.
Try the door for fit; a strip of thin paper should just pass down between the hinge stile and the carcase. The closing stile may now need easing, at a slight angle. The odd shaving may still be needed elsewhere but with accurate marking and careful working this should be minimal.
For the best-quality work the hinges should now be unscrewed and rough scratches removed from the knuckles with successively finer grades of emery cloth, then metal polish. At the final screwing on, use brass screws and line up all their slots the same way.
If a stop is needed it can be made in the same manner as a drawer stop.
Common faults when fitting doors are that either the door is ‘screw bound’ where protruding screw heads prevent the hinge from closing, or ‘hinge bound’ where the socket has been cut deeper than the total hinge thickness.
The straight cupboard lock is screwed directly onto the inside of the door with no preparation, hence no description of the method is required. For quality work something better is required. This is the brass cut lock (Fig 447): ‘cut’ meaning cut into the door. The cut drawer lock is similar except that the keyhole is at right angles to that of the cupboard lock. In buying a cupboard lock specify whether it is to go into the right- or left-hand stile.
Prepare for marking by setting a marking gauge to the distance of the key pin (Fig 448). Mark the chosen position for the keyhole with a square on the face of the door then carry it round onto the edge. The gauge marks the distance from the edge (Fig 449). At this stage drill a very small pilot hole for the pin. Offer up the lock to the centre line and mark the length of the box on the door edge (Fig 450).
This is an essential method because on some locks the pin is by no means in the middle of the lock. Mark out this primary cavity with a square and gauge. Weaken the wood with a number of diagonal sawcuts. Waste can then be removed by chisel. Use the simple hand router to complete the process to depth (Fig 451).
Hold the lock in place and scribe round it. Remove the waste to produce the second cavity (Fig 452). The keyhole can now be shaped using a larger drill and a coping saw. It may be finished with a round and a thin warding file. The keyhold is often left like this, but to prevent wear as the key is inserted an escutcheon may be fitted. The brass insert (Fig 453) requires the opening to be carefully filed out until the escutcheon can be pressed in with a G-cramp. Alternatively an escutcheon plate can be made from ebony, rosewood, bone, ivory, etc, and let into the door, either flush or slightly proud. A great variety of shapes is possible (e.g. Fig 454).
For fitting a drawer or till lock the routine is virtually the same. The socket for the bolt must be cut into the carcase. The door is closed with the bolt out, from which the length marking can be taken. Width markings can be made with a marking gauge (generally the points of a mortice gauge will not close sufficiently). Make due allowance for an inset or outset door. An alternative method favoured by some workers now is to ink the bolt end thoroughly with a thick felt marker and to quickly make a print with this before the ink dries, either onto the wood or onto a piece of masking tape. A brass plate can be recessed into the carcase to take the bolt. Unfortunately these are not usually for sale with the lock and must be individually hand made (Fig 455). (Making one by hand is an easy job – saw a piece of thin brass, file it to shape and drill holes in it for the screws.)