If you order either of these titles before Oct. 1, you will receive a free pdf download of the book(s) at checkout. After Oct. 1, the pdf and book will cost more.
“Euclid’s Door” is Jim and George’s latest exploration of artisan geometry. In this new book they show you how to build a set of highly accurate and beautiful wooden layout tools using simple geometry and common bench tools. This practical application of geometry will train your hands and mind to use this ancient wisdom. And you’ll end up with a fantastic set of useful tools.
After editing all of George and Jim’s books, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the geometry stuff. I was wrong. This book blew my mind a few times with stuff I should have known. (And now I’m glad I do.)
The book is 8.5” x 11” and 120 pages. It is printed in the USA and is built to be a permanent book, with heavy cover boards and a binding that is glued and sewn.
My latest book, “Sharpen This,” is the book I wish I had when I was learning woodworking. It might have saved me hundreds of dollars of buying sharpening equipment I didn’t need. And saved me time in learning how to grind, hone and polish.
This book is a short and blunt treatise about common bench tools: chisels and planes mostly. (Exotic tools and saws need their own books, really.) It seeks to explain how sharpening really works and what you need to do the job well – and no more.
It is not about one sharpening system. It’s about all of them. It is not trying to sell you some stones or jigs or magic paper. Instead, it is trying to give you the foundational knowledge you need in sharpening so you can make good decisions and – perhaps more importantly – ignore the vast piles of sharpening crap that companies are trying to sell you.
The book is 4” x 6.5” and is 120 pages. The book is printed and bound in the USA using quality materials and a sewn binding. It is designed to last a lifetime. “Sharpen This” is the same trim size as “The Woodworker’s Pocket Book,” and easily fits in the slipcases made by Texas Heritage.
This six-stick comb-back is a significant step forward for me. While I would never call my chairs “Welsh” (I am but 2 percent Welsh and live in Kentucky), this chair is the most Welsh of the chairs I’ve made to date.
What’s different? Mostly the wood for the arms and the comb. The oak’s grain follows the curve of the arm and the comb. While many Welsh chairs would use a curved branch to obtain this curved grain, I used oak from a trunk that had grown incredibly curved. This required a lot of careful cutting and a lot of waste. But I am pleased with the result.
Also Welsh-ish: the color. During my visits to Wales I saw traditional cottages with the doors and woodwork painted red. I am sure I don’t have the correct shade, but it is close to my memory. Plus, I have left many of the tenons slightly proud and burnished them smooth.
The chair is one of the four shown during the filming of our new video about how to build stick chairs, so you will see your chair a few times as it comes together in the background of the video.
I am selling this chair for $1,700 via a random drawing. The price is a little higher than usual because of all the waste – plus the involved finishing process. Instructions on purchasing the chair can be found near the bottom of this blog entry. Here are some more details about its design and construction.
This particular chair is set up for general use. The back is fairly upright at 12° off the seat. And the seat tilts at 4°, giving the chair an overall tilt of 16°. The seat is 16-3/4” off the floor to accommodate both short and tall sitters, and the chair is 39” high overall.
All the straight components of this chair were sawn or split out to be as strong as possible. The arms are made from four pieces of red oak. All of the chair’s major joints were assembled using hide glue, so repairs in the (far) future will be easy.
The chair’s finish was a multi-day process. First, the entire chair was burnished with a chainmail pot scrubber (a detail I learned from John Porritt’s “The Belligerent Finisher”). Then I applied three coats of acrylic paint. Finally, I applied a coat of black wax to fill the pores and mellow the bright red paint.
How to Purchase This Chair
This chair is being sold via a drawing. If you wish to buy the chair, send an email to email@example.com before 3 p.m. (Eastern) on Monday, Sept. 5. In the email please use the subject line “Chair Sale” and include your:
First name and last name
U.S. shipping address
Daytime phone number (this is for the trucking quote only)
After all the emails have arrived on Sept. 5, we will pick a winner that evening.
If you are the “winner,” the chair can be picked up at our storefront for free. Or we can ship it to you via common carrier. The crate is included in the price of the chair. Shipping a chair usually costs about $175 to $300, depending on your location. (I’m sorry but we cannot ship it outside the U.S.)
Update: The shipping problem seems to be fixed. If you are still having problems send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our 40-percent off sale on many of our popular titles ends at midnight on Wednesday. (You can see everything on sale here.)
This sale – the first in our 15 years of business – is the result of us hoarding stock during the pandemic. Keeping all this stock in a climate-controlled warehouse is expensive. This sale is an honest attempt to get our stock levels back to pre-pandemic levels.
Thanks to everyone who has picked up a book or two during the sale. This first (and hopefully last) big sale has been a huge help in reducing inventory.
The following is excerpted from “The Workshop Book,” by Scott Landis. First published in 1991, it remains the most complete book about every woodworker’s favorite place: the workshop.
“The Workshop Book” is a richly illustrated guided tour of some of the world’s most inspiring workshops — from garage to basement shops, from mobile to purpose-built shops.
The author traveled all over North America to discover the workshops featured in this book. The result is an intriguing and illuminating look at multiple successful approaches to shop layout.
Without threaded wood or metal screws, the modern woodworking vise wouldn’t exist. Richard Starr, a woodworking teacher and writer in Vermont, has long been fascinated by wooden threads. Here he examines their history and how they’re made.
The first person to make a screw probably did it by hand the way the Eskimos did. Historical photographs suggest the Eskimo’s technique: holding a piece of antler, bone or wood in one hand, they’d twist it past a knife grasped in the other. With the blade at an angle to the shaft, the knife would scribe a helical mark (a spiral) on the material, resulting usually in a left-hand thread because most people are right-handed (try it!). Then, whittling toward the incision, they produced a buttress-shaped thread that could hold a spear tip to its shaft.
That this isolated aboriginal society had threads is a glitch in the history of technology, since most researchers believe every screw on earth had direct ancestors in ancient Greece. Though helices appear in nature and in decorative arts worldwide, we know of no practical application of the shape until the first century B.C. in the land of Plato and Aristotle. The pyramid building Egyptians never thought of it; Chinese machinery did without screws until the 17th century. So if the Eskimos did come up with the idea on their own, they share the pride of invention with a rather sophisticated culture.
By the first century A.D., screws of wood and metal were common in Hellenistic technology. A press for flattening cloth has survived at Herculaneum (covered by Mount Vesuvius’s eruption in 79 A.D. ), its wooden screw in fine condition. At the surgeon’s house in neighboring Pompeii were found dilating instruments (specula) operated by metal screws, as are modern ones. A twin-screw press appears in a wall painting in that doomed city.
How were screws manufactured in antiquity? Fortunately, we had a reporter on the scene: Hero of Alexandria, who lived during the first century A.D. He created several tools of fundamental value, including a basic surveying instrument, but he is best remembered for his simple steam turbine, which was only a toy. An early engineer who wrote broadly about the mechanical technology of his time, Hero described the evolutionary improvement of screw presses used to produce olive oil. Machines identical to the ones he knew survived into the 19th century. He also explained how screws were made in both wood and metal.
Until quite recently, historically speaking, large wooden screws, up to 12 in. or more in diameter, were cut the way Hero described. After laying out a helix on the surface of the cylinder (he used a metal template) you would saw a notch along the mark to the depth of the threads. Then you’d chisel the V shape into the sawkerf. I’ve tried this; it’s easy.
Making the nut was a problem. The earliest method was to use a bare hole with one or more dowels intruding into it to engage the threads. This worked, but lacked strength. Another method was to carve the nut in two halves, then fasten the halves together. This was stronger than the dowel method, but its strength was limited by the integrity of the fastenings, which might have been glue, rivets or bindings of some sort. Besides, fitting the female thread to the male was incredibly tedious. Despite these shortcomings, the practice survives today, as shown in the photo [below].
Finally, Hero described (and possibly invented) a mechanical tap that etched a thread in a hole, working a little like a modern machine lathe. This gadget, shown in the drawing below, remained in use for almost 2,000 years until hydraulic presses made the wooden machinery obsolete.
In Hero’s time, if you needed a small-diameter metal screw, you’d probably cut it with a file and use the dowel-in-the hole method for the nut. It was also possible to cast a nut around an accurately filed screw. The worm drive, where a male screw engages a gear rather than a nut, is said to have been developed by Archimedes in the third century B.C.
Blacksmiths had a technique where inside and outside threads were made at the same time. First the smith would forge a ribbon of iron, square in section, and fold it back on itself, then he would wrap the doubled strip around a metal rod. Sliding the rod out, he’d separate the pair of helices, then solder one to the rod, the other inside a hole. Large screws for presses or vises were made this way and jewelers could use the method on tiny work.
Threading taps for metal and wood, similar to the design common today, were described by da Vinci in the 16th century and probably were in use much earlier. Usually these amounted to notches filed on the corners of a square rod, very simple to make but capable of cutting a decent thread.
Dies, the female-threaded devices designed to cut male screws, are probably as old as the metal-cutting tap needed to make one. Screw boxes, the wood-cutting equivalents of the die, used a V-gouge cutter positioned against a nut. I imagine this tool to be very old, although I doubt they existed in antiquity or Hero would have described them. Da Vinci sketched a tool that may or may not be a screw box; if it is, it’s the earliest representation I’ve been able to find. The 18th-century screw box and tap are almost identical to those available today. Several devices are now available that use a router to cut screws in wood very neatly.
After Hero’s wood-threading tap it was probably twelve or fourteen hundred years before people resumed the search for new methods of cutting screws quickly and accurately. Most methods were adaptions of the lathe, a tool that had been in worldwide use for thousands of years. The challenge of threading and, later, of turning screw-like ornamental shapes, stretched mankind’s ingenuity and eventually evolved into the machine-tool industry upon which our modern technology is based. As woodworkers we owe a nod to the early inventors who made possible our labor-saving machinery. And when we cut a screw in wood for a child’s toy or a workbench vise we are a lot closer to our roots than we may think.