Arts & Mysteries: The Soul and Basis of Our Art

How to design furniture like an 18th-century cabinetmaker.
By Adam Cherubini
Pages: 30-33

From the February 2007 issue #160
Buy this issue now

I realize the way I work wood is a bit out of the ordinary. It’s also true that the way I write magazine articles is out of the ordinary. Unlike typical articles, the “Arts & Mysteries” column has year-long themes.

This year I intend to explore a simple hand-tool project in never-before-seen depth. Frankly, I’ve been frustrated by the “Build a Chippendale Highboy in three pages” articles. So I thought it would be helpful if you could peer into my shop as I construct something entirely by hand. For it is my understanding that very few of you have experience building projects entirely by hand, but that almost all of you use hand tools to some degree.

I’ve long suspected that there’s a difference between using hand tools for some things and using hand tools for everything. What I see are woodworkers fitting their hand tools into factory-like paradigms. They seek jigs for their hand saws and measure their planes’ shavings with micrometers. I’m not interested in passing judgment or trying to convince anyone that my way is better. Rather, I’m keenly interested in the exploring the difference in the work styles to learn what techniques or methods are the chief contributors to success.

From the February 2007 issue #160
Buy this issue now