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You Can’t Get There From Heah!

The Furniture Record - Sat, 10/07/2017 - 4:26pm

If you are of a certain age, you will know this is one of the iconic lines from  Firesign Theater’s The Further Adventures of Nick Danger (1969). Depending on how you’ve lived your life, you might have been surrounded by college friends that, from memory, would constantly reenact entire Firesign Theater routines. Often on a daily basis. Possibly more often but you only saw them on a daily basis. (For extra credit, explain regnad kcin.)

That phrase has also recently become my life. A bridge that links us to the world is being replaced. Bridge 77 on Route 1133 was built in 1954 and has been declared Structurally Deficient and Functionally Obsolete. I was born 1954 and have been declared Structurally Deficient and Functionally Obsolete.

With Old 77 missing, the only way out of here is to go 3.5 miles south or 1.5 miles west on an unpaved road. From one side of the bridge to the other is 6.2 miles on the unpaved road or 9.3 miles if car cleanliness is important to you. I observed the gentleman servicing the job site toilet discovering this the other morning. Our access to Chapel Hill and Carrboro is unaffected so we can still eat well.

Here is the bridge as it is being removed:


Note you can read the individual wooden beams through 5″ of pavement.


The entire understructure is wood. Weight limit was down to 6.5 tons.


There is a lot of wood in this bridge. And I want none of it.

Why wouldn’t I want this wood. No one can positively say how it’s been treated. Creosote is a given. It was once widely used by all including the homeowner before coal-tar based creosote’s carcinogenic properties became known. And there could be other things in there including heavy metals. The supervisor told me it costs around $2000 per dumpster to dispose of it properly (legally).


240 board feet of death.

Demolition being finished, construction is well underway.


Here, the far side is complete and the near side has just been poured.


Both ends prepared.


Finally the beams have been placed. No one can explain the 3° rake other than it is as designed.

It takes a big crane to build a bridge:


Panoramic photos can be taken vertically as well as horizontally.

Depending on weather, the replacement could be ready by month’s end. The one thing we will miss is having the road to ourselves on our early morning walks:


Almost 7:00 AM and no cars in sight.

Making an infill plane from scratch 13, cap iron.

Mulesaw - Sat, 10/07/2017 - 2:42pm
Yesterday I spent a couple of hours just filing the front of the mouth so that it would allow the blade to protrude. I also started chamfering all the edges of the sides. These seemingly small tasks actually take quite a long time.

Today I decided to start on the cap iron.
I have had an eye on an old butterfly valve for some time now, because it would give some great material for this part of the project.
The valve is a 12" valve that used to be mounted on the ballast system of the ship. It was replaced during the dry docking, because the rubber seating had developed a crack that caused the valve to no longer hold tight.
Not so many years ago it was custom to change the rubber insert in those valves, and it can still be done on some types yet. But this valve is of a type where the rubber is glued to the body, so it can't be repaired. It can however be used for a custom cap iron.

The disc is made out of aluminium bronze, which is sea water resistant. It is also a different colour than the steel that I have used in the build, so it should give a bit of visual interest once it is complete.

I used an angle grinder to cut out a piece I deemed suitable. I deliberately included a cast stamp saying C954. I have no idea what it means, but I thought it looked good.
After getting the piece free from the valve disc, it was again back to a lot of filing.
I have managed to position the holes for the cap iron in a way that it would look bad if it was mounted with screws in the side. So instead I am going to install a rod in those holes, and slide the cap iron below this rod, and capture it in a semicircular depression.

After drilling a hole for the cap screw and making a thread in the hole, I again used the angle grinder to remove some more material. I did this after the drilling and tapping, because it is so much easier to clamp a squarish piece in the vice compared to an odd shape.

In the beginning I considered leaving the entire surface as it came from the valve i.e. as a coarse casting, but in the end I decided that it would look like I had skipped a step or two, and I started filing the surface to get it nice and smooth.

The current state of the project, still some way to go.

Butterfly valve, empty can is for giving an idea of the size.

No one will notice that there's a piece missing.

Started to file the surface.

Drilled and tapped, but not finished yet.

Categories: Hand Tools

custom made tool - Werkzeug nach meinen Wünschen

Old Ladies - Pedder's blog - Sat, 10/07/2017 - 12:53pm
Vor einiger Zeit habe ich einen Beitrag über den Missbrauch einer Raspel gemacht. Ich benutze eine Raspel 90° geht die Hiebrichtung, um die geraden Kanten Sägen zu bearbeiten, ohne AUsrisse zu erzeugen.  Tom Fidgen hat dann im Juni Seine Zweihandraspeln veröffentlicht, die genau für diesen Zweck sind. Ich habe Noel Liogier gefragt, ob er mir in eine normale Raspel (ich benutze keine Griffmacherraspeln) eine Teilstrecke mit solchen Zähnen macht. Zudem habe ich ihm von meiner tschechischen Raspel vorgeschwärmt, die ich mal geschenkt bekam. Diese Woche kam die Raspel an. Form wir die tschechische und Zähen wie besprochen. 

Some time ago I wrote about the  abuse of a rasp. I use a standard rasp to draw rasp the edges of saw handles. Tom Fidgen inventented a two handled rasp for tasks like that and published that in June. SO i asked Noel Liogier, to make me a standard rasp wit 1 /14 teeth turned 90°. And I praised the czech rasp Ihave been given. It came this week. Teeth like bespoke and shape like the czech one.

from left 2 Iwasaki, czech rasp, the new liogier, an oldr Liogier, 3 halrfround file of different pitches.

The Czech one, the new Liogier 14 , an old Liogier 15

another view
Die Aufgabe sind solche Wackler beim Ausssägen.

The task is to even such curves from sawing.

wrong focus but the move is forward and backward

Falsch fokussiert, aber die Bewegung ist vorwärts und rückwärts.

another wrong fokus

Schon wieder

Das lappt so, wie vorgestellt.

It works.

Categories: Hand Tools

Hello, I am wondering if I could get some chisel advice. I have some japanese style chisels that I received from my grandfather. One of them is over 40 years old and very rusted with a chipped edge and a beat up hollow back. The hoop is askew and the...

Giant Cypress - Sat, 10/07/2017 - 3:58am

The hoop and handle can be fixed. I’d take the hoop off first. Then take the handle off. This can be done by grabbing the blade end of the chisel and hitting the handle on a hard (not too hard) surface, like a scrap piece of walnut or cherry. Fix the crack with some glue, and put the handle back on the chisel. Trim off the hoop end of the handle so that it is round and symmetric. Then fit the hoop on like you would for a new chisel.

As far as the back goes, I like using either some 80 grit sandpaper glued to a flat reference surface or a diamond plate for flattening the back of a chisel. It can be done, it just takes time. Then use the sandpaper or diamond plate to work the bevel side to get rid of the nicks. After that, you can use your favorite sharpening routine to polish up the back and bevel. 

Caption Challenge with an Elephant!

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sat, 10/07/2017 - 2:00am

The image is from 1634 and needs a caption. ‘Nusquam tuta fides’ translates as ‘no trust is ever sure’ but don’t let that get in your way.

Suzanne Ellison

Filed under: Historical Images, Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

How to Make a Baseball Bat Out of Recycled Skateboards: Interview with Andrew Szeto

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Sat, 10/07/2017 - 2:00am

I came across Andrew’s work on Instagram and Reddit and thought it was a creative build. Andrew uses skateboards that were broken or headed to the garbage to create colorful projects. In the video above he turned a baseball bat – on his Instagram feed you’ll see canoe paddles, drumsticks and coffee stampers. He’s creative and learning fast. I enjoyed his story, I captured part of it for blog post found […]

The post How to Make a Baseball Bat Out of Recycled Skateboards: Interview with Andrew Szeto appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Nice Adjustable Shelves

David Barron Furniture - Sat, 10/07/2017 - 1:45am

Joe sent me these pictures of his latest project, walnut and ash adjustable shelves.

The brackets are attached with what appear to be sliding dovetails.

The rounded shelves have a nice retro look and all finished off with his trade mark signature, The Lucent Crow.

Categories: Hand Tools

replacement foot done.......

Accidental Woodworker - Sat, 10/07/2017 - 12:35am
I didn't get to the glue up of the new foot tonight. My wife said we were going out to eat tonight. I had gotten these marching orders before lunch this morning so I knew I would have to hustle in the shop tonight. I was able to finish fitting the tenon to the mortise and bandsaw and clean up the  foot details. Barring any mind farts, I should be able to get this glued up and start on the dolly for Miles's toolbox.

trimmed the ends
I got the R/L ends trimmed to fit the mortise. I did pretty good on getting the ends square this time. They aren't a perfect 90° but they aren't slanted this time. I still have a bit of work to do on the thickness of the tenon to get it to fit the mortise.

trimming the mortise to fit the tenon
My mortise jig is a bit too long and I need to trim it back a bit. I watched Paul Sellers video on M/T and he sawed his at 1 1/2". Mine is over twice that (the part the chisel is resting on). It is too long because the chisel doesn't have a sufficient length to even trim 1/2 way into the mortise before it hits the ferrule.

the tenon I glued veneer to both cheeks
I didn't want to use router on this because of the veneer. If I removed the veneer I would have dried glue on the cheek to try and glue again on. Or worse, I would make the tenon too thin again. That is why I trimmed the mortise to fit the tenon. But it is much easier trimming the tenon to fit.

had to tap it home with a mallet
I got a good fit but it is too tight to glue up this way. I did some more trimming of the mortise with a tenon rasp to make some room for the glue.

inside look
Very good fit on the cheeks and better on the ends. They are a teeny bit gappy but a big improvement over the first ones I did.

this will going up for sale now
Now that I can chop mortises by hand, this mortiser is no longer needed. I did think of using it during the saw donkey build. In my mind I was using it as a fall back crutch. It was especially strong when I saw my first crappy end cuts but I resisted. Getting rid of the machine will remove the urge to use it.

my brown knot
doesn't go all the way through to the other side
In fact the knot doesn't even make it to the inside of the mortise. It is tight and appears to be sound. There isn't anyplace for the glue to seep into so I'll forgo it for now.

drilling my rounds on the bottom of the foot
I didn't forget
I marked the left end and flipped it over and marked the right end. I shouldn't have problems bandsawing the details out.

 I drilled the round out wrong. I drilled on the layout line and I should have shifted it inboard a 1/2" so the outside of the bit was on the layout line. 

foot is done
It is ready to glue the upright into the foot. I'm wavering on whether or not to draw bore it. I think I might only because I won't have to clamp it and wait.

Time to go enjoy fish 'n chips for dinner.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What did Father Edward Flanagan found on December 12th, 1917?
answer - Boys Town Orphanage

Starry, Starry Drite

Pegs and 'Tails - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 5:42pm
This cupboard was described by a dealer as “astral glazed”. George III painted corner cupboard, circa 1790. Jack Plane Advertisements Filed under: Antiques Tagged: glazed
Categories: Hand Tools

Finishing Workshop @ CW

The Barn on White Run - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 3:33pm

Immediately in the aftermath of my frustratingly brief presentation at the last annual Working Wood in the 18th Century at Colonial Williamsburg, I received two invitations from Hay Shop Master Kaare Loftheim to return.

The first of these was for a two-day closed workshop for CW artisans last month where I would present demonstrations and hands-on exercises for my approach to historic finishing.  I was delighted to be there, as craftsmen from the Anthony Hay Shop, the gunsmith, the housewrights and joiners, and the wheelwright shops packed into the Hay shop for two days of intense work on transparent finishes.  Normally I like to make it a three day event, but two days was all they had so we worked with it.

Over the next several posts I will recount the exercises that are my normal syllabus.

Why Ply Wood?

Paul Sellers - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 12:56pm

Whereas plywood has a long history, and we can trace its roots to past millennia, it’s a material that’s still quite young when you see how long it’s been available as a fully commercial product. It’s also true that beyond the run of the mill manufacturers there are the specialist makers who have established themselves […]

Read the full post Why Ply Wood? on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Book Giveaway: Hybrid Woodworking

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 12:00pm
Hybrid Woodworking

When you hang around woodworkers there is always talk of hand tools versus power tools. You’ll meet people who love the idea of doing everything they can by hand and really connecting with their material. And you’ll meet folks who like to take advantage of the speed and convenience that modern machines afford. And then there are those who believe in employing the best of both worlds: using power tools […]

The post Book Giveaway: Hybrid Woodworking appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

CAD is the Secret Sauce

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 9:48am

The very idea of digital woodworking is something new and strange to a lot of woodworkers, so it’s only natural there are a lot of questions. For many, the big question is “where do I start?” The answer is easy. Learn to draw using Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) drawing tools. You don’t have to own an expensive CNC router to get the biggest benefit of going digital. You can remain a […]

The post CAD is the Secret Sauce appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

A Better Way to Flatten a Board by Hand

The Renaissance Woodworker - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 8:37am

Forget the Process and Treat Each Board as Unique

I’m hesitant to even call this a technique or a method because it is the total absence of process that makes this milling approach so effective. In short, every board is unique so doing the same thing to flatten every board is folly.

Here is the Secret

Diagnose the high spots and remove only the high spots…then and only then do you start taking full length passes. There is no need to work across the grain or diagonally, only with the grain.

To add on to this, you want to spend more time checking the board with a straightedge than you do actually planing. Assume that every stroke you take with the plane is throwing it out of flat and so you need to check with the straightedge often so you aren’t creating a shape that will require even more planing to fix. The net result of all of this is a flat board with very little time spend planing and VERY little actual wood removed. So your 4/4 rough board is now 15/16 thick or you are making rip cuts right on the line and flattening and squaring the edge while removing only 1/32″ of wood.

This changes the game and makes milling a board by hand not a trial or hard work, but a quick and simple task that teaches you a lot about how that board will behave in all the subsequent steps.

New Lessons From The Hand Tool School Vault

  • If you have ever wondered or struggled with creating parallel edges or duplicate sized parts by hand then this 20 minute lesson may be just the trick to get you making your parts identical with a hand plane.
  • For a more in depth look of the Spot Planing Technique and instruction on how to build the planing stop I used in this live broadcast, check out my lesson on the same topic.
Categories: Hand Tools

Still Learning (after all these years)

A Woodworker's Musings - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 8:07am

Eight or nine years ago I bought a new lathe.  The first thing I did was to make several sets of legs and arm stumps for a pair of Windsor Chairs.  I put them into a five gallon pail for safe keeping.  There they remained, till now.

The first of the pair is nearly complete.  Wow!  Have I learned a lot.  I’ve built a number of chairs, but this is the first sack-back I’ve done.  I have new found respect for my friends who specialize in this particular design.

Here are a few of the lessons learned:

–  You can’t overstate the importance of a good form,

–  Tangential relationships are critical,

–  Use bending straps,

–  Use green wood for bending,

–  Have plenty of bending stock on hand,

A project like this is exactly what keeps me interested in woodworking.  No matter how much you know, there’s always something new to learn.  (Or in the case of many of us, it may be that we’ve forgotten more than we care to admit.  So, shall we say, there’s always something new to remember.)




Categories: Hand Tools

Hi Wilbur, is there an equivalent japanese tool for the western panel saws, rip cuts and crosscuts? Thank you!

Giant Cypress - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 3:18am

I’d use a larger ryoba, either a 270mm or a 300mm, for the type of cut one would use a panel saw for. Kataba of the same size could also be used, but ryoba are far more common.

The City Workshop

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 3:00am


After 21 years of working in shops in the suburbs or (worse) sprawling edge cities, I was thrilled to move to a storefront on Willard Street in Covington, Ky. It has exceeded every expectation, and I have forged a lot of great relationships with nearby woodworkers, metalworkers, carpenters and glass artists.

On top of that, the architecture is an endless source of inspiration, offering pattern, shadow, ornament and form. And my store’s plate-glass windows are like a high-definition television tuned to the human dramas on the sidewalks. Here are my three favorite tales from the last two years.

Sprinting in the City
While my daughter Katy and I were walking back to the store from lunch, I challenged her to a foot race down Ninth Street. She declined. But as we turned onto Ninth, she changed her mind and took off running. I pursued her – sprinting at top speed.

It was a spring day, and all the cars lined up at the stoplight on Ninth Street had their windows open. And the drivers and passengers started yelling at us.

“Hey! You leave her alone!” one driver yelled.

“Stop chasing her!” another screamed. “I’ll call the cops!”

I started laughing so hard I lost the race.


Money Doesn’t Buy Good Taste
It’s pretty common for local residents to stop by the shop to see what I’m building. They also like to look at the completed pieces of furniture waiting to go to customers.

One day a woman stopped by who was looking for work cleaning bathrooms (sorry, I clean my own toilets). After walking in she rushed to the back of the room, dropped to her knees and started examining the fretwork on the staked dining table we use as a desk. She spent a few minutes examining that table, then moved to the aumbry to examine the carving. Then one of my chairs.

She went on a rant about store-bought furniture that any woodworker would recognize. This woman, who you might think is homeless, had really good taste in furniture. (Better taste than my suburban neighbors on the whole.)


If it Looks Like a Crime Scene…
Last winter when I was building the 1505 Loffelholz workbench I was having a heck of a time getting the tail vise working properly. After a frustrating day of adjusting it and failing, I gave up and decided to go home.

I locked the shop’s door and walked to my truck. I had a sudden idea on adjusting the vise that stopped me dead in my tracks. I turned around, unlocked the shop door and immediately slid under the bench, lying on my back. I was so excited I forgot to close the shop’s door.

After 10 minutes of working on my back, I heard someone running toward me.

“I’m calling 911! Are you OK? Are you hurt? Did they rob you?”

A guy was standing in the open doorway, out of breath, with a cellphone.

Again, I started laughing. Except for a pool of blood it looked like a crime scene. I was flat on my back, staring straight up. The door was wide open.

I know a lot of woodworkers fantasize about a cozy workshop out in the woods somewhere where they can be surrounded by nature. And be free from distractions of human society. But for me, a city workshop is best shop I’ve ever had.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

blogger bit me on the butt again.......

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 1:15am

During my lunchtime I like to read and answer any comments. I was doing that today when I noticed that I had missed a grammatical mistake in one of my responses. No big deal I thought, I would delete my comment, correct it, and post it again. What I had forgotten is you can't (or at least I can't) delete a comment once it has been posted (by me or someone else). Doing so freezes comments for me. The comments counter continually cycles in a circle. I can't access them to read them or to post any. I haven't tried posting readers comments after this has happened because I am not sure what will happen to them. The black hole of the blogger is stronger than any black hole in the universe.

I had 4 comments left that I didn't get to answer that I'll do in my blog. I was trying to fix my comment to Bob Demers comment when things went south on me on the midnight express. Paraphrasing what Bob said - I should get the draw bore pins from Lee Valley.

My answer to Bob was
you're talking to a stubborn old fart. I don't see the need for the draw bore pins. To my thinking they would not help and would elongate the holes reducing the effect of the pins pulling it tight.  LV does have the best price on them I've seen anywhere. Besides these are something I don't see written about nor do I see a lot of pics of them.

I had this comment because I did a copy but no joy getting to a paste it. What I don't have is Bob's posted comment. I can't see any of the comments and responses to this blog post.

Ralph, my experience has been that you want to sharpen pins to a small tip almost like a pencil such that the tip of the pin will hit inside the offset hole and then also inside the back hole. This makes pins required to be about 50% longer so that you can cut off the pointed tip entirely on

I agree with you on the pin points. Unfortunately I beat the snot out of that pin driving it out. I couldn't tell what the point of it looked like. I will make sure that the next ones will have a longer point.

I think you're right. I've had good luck using longer, more gradually tapered pegs. For complicated stuff that needs to sit square on the floor, it's nice to be able to fit all the pegs in loosely and then walk around the piece smacking them tighter.

Hi Paul,
I plan on doing something along the same lines. Thinking out loud, I would think there has to be balance here between the long, tapered point, and it being strong enough to not break or split as you pound it through.

Hi Ralph, Perhaps longer pins with long tapers would let the pin thread through all 3 holes before the pounding starts. I asked the other day about the hole offsets and didn't ask clearly. What difference do you use between the mortise hole to shoulder distance and the tenon hole to shoulder distance? Looks like you could benefit from a modern boiler. You could save a lot of energy and open up your shop floor. Kill two birds with one stone. My neighbor has a modern boiler vs. my 1992 model and he spends less than a third what I do during the heating season. Similar houses. 

Steve D
Hi Steve,
I did miss what you asked. I didn't measure how much I offset the dimple from the drill bit mark. I made it above the 'outside circle' made by the drill bit. If I had to guess, I would say maybe it was a 16th and no more.
I've thought about replacing the boiler but I'm sticking with what I got for now. It will still heat the house even if I lose power. It doesn't have the current loss of power cutout that furnaces today have. Another problem is removing the asbestos on the furnace and piping. My last estimate about 8-10 years ago was $3500. No plumber will replace the boiler because of it.

These are the comments I couldn't answer and I don't know the status of the ones I did. Another blogger quirk that I can't seem to remember. Has anyone else that uses this platform have this particular problem?  I started a Word Press blog but I like the simplicity of this blogger. Besides I don't know how to migrate all my posts from blogger to Word Press. I have a lot of keyboard diarrhea to move from one to the other.

the foot is twist free and ready to mortise
 But before I got to that I have another tool for Miles tool box.

wartime #6
mine #6 on the right
My #6 is a type 5 if I remember and look at how thin it's casting is compared the other one. That isn't all, the new plane weighs a ton. There is no way that Miles can use it. It'll probably have a few pounds on him until he is old enough to vote.

the plane in action
The iron looks like it was sharpened on a belt sander but it is sharp. It had no problems planing this DF against the grain. It is a wee bit heavy to push even for me. So I don't think I'll be doing the #6 swap with Miles. I'll have to look around for an earlier #6.

my #7 and a unwanted #6 now
My #7 weighs less than the #6. After this weight comparison I know there is no way that Miles will be able to use this. I don't like returning things I have bought so I will rehab it and sell it.

transferring lines
I am bringing the bottom and top of the bearer and stretcher onto the outside face of the upright.

no hiccups encountered
I got all 8 of them glued in with hide glue. I will do the final flushing and clean up tomorrow.

sometimes you get lucky
The mortise gauge was still set from the first round of mortise and tenon layout. I transferred my mortise lines onto the bottom with a square and my marking knife. I need this one to be as accurate as I could do it. On the first round I used a square and a pencil.

I didn't get lucky with this
 The relief on the bottom is 1/2" and a 1/2" up from the bottom doesn't even make it to the 1/2 way point of the knot. I will glue it from both sides with super glue and hope for the best when I saw it.

the end cuts
When I did the end cuts on the mortises the first time I did them with me in line with the chisel. I was facing the front of the chisel as I did the end cuts. That gave me a good R/L 90° but not the critical F/B 90°. This time I did it this way so I could better judge chopping at 90°.

self supporting
It is too snug to drive home but this is something I will creep up on very slowly. This mortise and tenon is going to have to fit like Paul Sellers did it. I can't use two draw bore pins on this. I can only use one in the middle, between the two I already did. The rest of the strength has to come from a good fit and glue.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What does sic mean?
answer - it is Latin for thus or just as   It is usually used in brackets after a quote or copied word(s) to show that it is exactly quoted/copied from the original

Evolution of the Crucible Dividers

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 5:40pm


I’ve just posted a blog entry that shows the evolution of the Crucible Improved Pattern Dividers (and explained why they have that name. Check it out here.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Crucible Tool, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Some of our Defences

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 11:18am

From “Cot With Drop Side,” The Woodworker magazine, April 1942

“ … For the comfort and seemliness of our furniture will decide the background of our home; whether it is to be a place we can truly rejoice in and be proud of, or whether it is to be a shoddy sort of place, a mean, vulgar sort of place. And these things do not depend upon whether a man is rich or poor. A rich man’s house can be innately vulgar, and a poor man’s house have real charm. It all depends upon what we are trying to do and how we set about doing it.

It is all part of the last defence, which is honesty of workmanship and purpose, qualities that were by no means the hallmark of the mass-produced furniture that flooded the market before the war, much of which had for its only purpose to tempt people to buy meretricious stuff which they did not really need and to push good, honest workmanship into the background. The man who has sufficient skill to make his own furniture need never succumb to this kind of temptation. For he at least knows how things ought to be done, he understands good construction and should have a keen eye for all the paltry makeshifts by which weaknesses and defects are hidden in the shoddy article. It is one of the evils of our time that so many men do not know how things are done. The nature of their work has been divorced from making; and it is from making, something, anything, soundly and well, that we get our main training of eye as well as hand.

Allied with this last defence comes beauty a shy quality in which good taste must combine with good workmanship and which even then refuses to be exactly defined. So many things in the home contribute to it; comfort, order, colour, charm, all reflecting something of the personality of the man and woman about whom the home centres, so that in thinking of “home” we think of a unity into which all are gathered—father, mother, children, background. And beauty becomes the first defence of the home as well as the last when it helps to keep boys or girls poised and steady when they are away from it, seeing it with new eyes just because they are away and are no longer blinded by familiarity, and giving them a standard by which to judge the outer world. The man who is honest with himself, honest with his work, and anxious to make good, honest things, is laying the foundation of such a standard. And beauty will not be far behind, indeed must follow, if he will put the best of his mind and will to it:

‘ … look where our dizziest spires are saying
What the hands of a man did up in the sky;
Drenched before you have heard the thunder,
White before you have felt the snow;
For the giants lift up their hands to wonder
How high the hands of a man could go.’ 

—Charles Hayward, The Woodworker magazine, 1942; the poem Hayward references at the end is by G. K. Chesterton, titled “For Four Guilds: III. The Stone-Masons,” from the book “The Ballad of St. Barbara: And Other Verses”

Filed under: Honest Labour, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools


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