It does not follow that because most wood-work used about a building may be obtained at the mill, machine made, that the carpenter should not equip himself with the knowledge necessary to make by hand every piece of wood-work required to complete a building. There is a sameness about millwork that always impresses itself unfavorably on the artistic sense, and this quality is so well understood in high quarters, that many very rich men will not permit finished machine made work to be introduced in their residence.
While it may be true that machine made work is, in many cases, superior to hand-made work, yet it is characterless and inartistic, as it is the machine, not the workman, that leaves its impression on the finished product, and each piece is a facsimile of each other piece. For utilitarian purposes machine made work occupies a high rank, as it is generally well made, solidly put together, and costs much less than hand-made work, qualities that recommend it for general use.
By hand-made work I do not mean work that is sawn from the rough by hand, or manipulated at every stage by brute force with saw and plane. The circular saw, the planer, the mortiser and tenoner may and should be employed in preparing material for hand work, thus relieving the workman of the present from the drudgery that his forefathers were forced to undergo.
My father-in-law was by trade a sawyer, and a good workman; in fact, Thomas Leaf had the reputation of being the best veneer-sawyer in that part of the country. I, being destitute of employment, and no prospect of obtaining any, except by leaving England, which I was unwilling to do, Mr. Leaf undertook to teach me the art of mahogany and veneer sawing.
From the commencement of that business I gave promise of success, and it was not the least consoling to know, that at length I had found a trade wherein I could become respectable, and at least, something more than mediocre. It was soon my father’s boast, that with his “ big lad”—for I was too boy-like to pass for a man—with his lad “he could turn more veneers out of an inch plank than any other pair of craftsmen in the town.”
Thomas was an original in his way ; he had superior qualities as a workman, and seldom forgot to talk about them. He was generally upon good terms with himself; he had an unflinching independence of action, and a deep sense of honour and integrity regulated all his dealings. In a pecuniary point of view, my new trade was not so remunerative as it had been before the invention of the circular saw.
We are just about to run out of copies of “The Joiner & Cabinet Maker” and are ordering a second printing. We have compliled a list of typographical errors that we want to correct in the second printing. If you have found any grammatical or factual errors, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you will have my gratitude.
The other news on “The Joiner & Cabinet Maker” is that we hope to issue an audiobook of the original text of the fictional tale of young Thomas and bumbling Sam. This would be offered as a download for $8 (or so) or an audiobook CD for $12.
I first got the idea to do the audiobook from Roy Underhill. He suggested doing the book as a short film and casting Megan Fitzpatrick as the love interest for Thomas. Wait, I don’t remember Sally being Thomas’s love interest.
Anyway, after Roy’s suggestion, I was approached by a reader who asked if he could record the book on tape for a class of autistic children. He thought the tale and the associated handwork to build the packing box would be valuable to the students.
And that made me think that perhaps an audiobook might be fun for everyone.
— Christopher Schwarz