Article Index Arts Mysteries

Tool & Furniture Records

Nicholas Disbrowe, Samuel Sewall and chairs as corpse transportation. by Peter Follansbee pages 58-61 As I study 17th-century oak furniture, I come up with many dead ends. The surviving objects tell one part of the story, another view into this world is found in the written records of this period. The holy grail of...

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Arts & Mysteries: More Windows than Walls

Determining patterns of work in a new shop. by Peter Follansbee pages 58-60 I’m in the last stages of building my workshop. When I first planned the building, I knew where the workbench, lathe and tool chest would go, but all the minor details were left until the building was ready. Every workshop is...

Arts & Mysteries: Wallington, The Unhappy Turner

Trade dangers revealed in 17th-century journals. by Peter Follansbee pgs. 58-61 I thought of Nehemiah Wallington (1598-1658) when I set up my lathe in my nearly finished workshop. A few times a year he pops up in my mind. He was a turner in Puritan-era London, and as unhappy a soul as you might...

Wood Too Good to Burn

Look to your firewood pile for plenty of project inspiration. by Peter Follansbee pgs. 58-59 I’ve been cutting up my leftover bits of green wood for firewood to use in my new workshop. It’s not going well. I have a feeling that we green woodworkers freeze to death in the end. It’s because when...

Wedged Sliding Mortise Gauge

Make your own copy of this precision vintage tool. by Peter Follansbee pgs. 58-60 Even after two years of working alone, I can still hear the visitors to my museum shop where I worked for 20 years: “My grandpa was a carpenter….” It’s a line I heard a lot. I used to wish for...

Arts & Mysteries: One Stick, All the Info

Measured drawings for some, story sticks for me (and others). by Peter Follansbee pgs. 58-61 I once had a job making a couple of wainscot chairs and chests for the National Park Service. After barely surviving the paperwork it took to get the job in the first place, I was then confronted with the...

Arts & Mysteries: Carpenters’ Work

Early modern records show guild regulations in London. by Peter Follansbee pages 58-61 Early 17th-century London tradesmen were protective about their work, carefully keeping an eye on any interlopers to their craft. A dispute arose in the early 1630s between London’s carpenters and joiners, and in my last column (June 2016, issue #225), I...

Arts & Mysteries: Joyners vs. Carpenters, 1631

Period woodworking trades in London were strictly regulated. by Peter Follansbee pages 58-60 I’ve temporarily put down my 5⁄16″ joiner’s mortising chisel in favor of a 2″ chisel for chopping carpenter’s mortises. I’m timber framing a workshop, and while whomping away on 2″-wide mortises, I have time to think. My principal work has always...

Arts & Mysteries: Give Me a Brake

Get some splitting leverage with this simple contraption. by Peter Follansbee pages 58-59 Reach for a froe, and you should immediately think, “Give me a brake.” The brake can be a constructed workholding device, or just a couple of logs. Its function is to trap your workpiece in such a way that you can...