Article Index Arts Mysteries

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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...

Joint-Stool

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...

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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...

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Arts & Mysteries: Furniture – It’s Meant to be Used

In some contemporary households, 17th-century style storage prevails. by Peter Follansbee pages 58-59 I once sold a chair to a woman who later told me how much she loved it. “I never let anyone sit in it!” she exclaimed, apparently to show me how special it was to her. I told her that was...

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Arts & Mysteries: A Disappearing Favorite

Will our grandchildren ever get to work with lightweight, versatile ash? by Peter Follansbee p. 50 My kids are often telling me that this or that toy is their favorite, but it seems that there are several that get this descriptor. Maybe they are rubbing off on me, but I find that I have...

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Arts & Mysteries: 21st-century Craft Education

Always remember where you (and your work) came from. by Peter Follansbee page 46 How we go about learning to build “period” furniture today is nothing like what the makers of our study pieces did. In the pre-Industrial era, apprenticeship was the principal method of learning any trade. In the English -speaking world, if...

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Arts & Mysteries: The Indispensable Mortise & Tenon

Drawbore it for a joint that will last centuries.  By Peter Follansbee pages 58-59 I once had a visitor to my shop remark that he’d like to see a book about all the types of joints that I use. I told him it’d be a pretty short book: One page for the rabbet joints I...

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Arts & Mysteries: Pre-anarchist’s Tool Chest

‘Thixtell?’ ‘Wymble?‘ Legal records reveal some curious period tools. by Peter Follansbee page 22 Centuries before we all read Christopher Schwarz’s “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” (Lost Art Press), craftsmen compiled lists of what they perceived as a basic set of tools for a young man starting his career in the woodworking trades. They just...

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Lighting Matters

Raking light through windows is the clear winner in a hand-tool shop. by Peter Follansbee page 60 In 2007, I was a speaker at Colonial Williamsburg’s Furniture Forum, and there I met Adam Cherubini. He was in costume in the parking lot, talking period furniture and tools to anyone who’d listen. If you know...