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Highly Recommended: ‘The Mechanic’s Companion’

Among all the important historical woodworking books out there, Peter Nicholson’s “The Mechanic’s Companion” does not get enough notice. Perhaps that’s because it wasn’t the first English-language book on joinery (Joseph Moxon was the pioneer in this field), or perhaps it’s not as well-known because original copies of the book are expensive. I paid...

Get Started in Hand Tool Woodworking

Every week I get asked where to begin when trying to become a hand-tool woodworker. The snarky answer is, “I have no idea because I did it the wrong way.” There are as many different paths to take as there are woodworkers. So anything I write on this topic is sure to be dissected,...

41 Things from 1839

I’m packing up all the tools I’ll need in North Carolina for the coming week, and I was a bit shocked this morning as I went through my checklist. One of the “Woodwright’s Shop” television programs Roy Underhill and I are shooting this weekend will deal with the typical toolkit of a joiner circa...

Declaring Victory with the Double-screw Vise

Joseph Moxon I could kiss your dessicated worm-eaten corpse. My newest version of the double-screw vise illustrated in Moxon’s “Mechanick Exercises” (1678) is a complete success. The vise is simple , five pieces of wood. And the only special equipment you need to build it is a wooden threadbox and tap (a $45 investment)....

Joseph Moxon's Double-screw Vise

When I was a young nerdling, I loved the video game “Ultima” , not because of the raping and the pillaging, but because you spent most of your time exploring a huge map of the world. Every place on the map that you had never been was pitch black, lightening up only when you...

Sawing Franco-Prussian Style

Ripping boards by hand is a lot like working. And so I’m always looking for different techniques (other than buying a Bowflex machine and steroids) to do it with less effort. This weekend I was re-reading Fred T. Hodgson’s amazingly opinionated book on saws: “Hand Saws: Their Use, Care and Abuse.” You can download...

Now Available: The Complete 'Mechanick Exercises'

“And tho’ the Mechanicks be, by some, accounted Ignoble and Scandalous yet it is very well known, that many Gentlemen in this Nation, of Good Rank and high Quality, are conversant in Handy-Works…¦” - Joseph Moxon, preface to “Mechanick Exercises” If you are interested in the early development of Western woodworking , including joinery,...

Drunken Turners and Foul-mouthed Cabinetmakers

If you’d like to do a little time traveling on your lunch hour today, I’ve got just the ticket. Head over to Gary Robert’s Toolemera Press site and download (for free) “Charles Hayward Looks Back To The Seamy Side.” No, you won’t get in trouble with your boss or your spouse. It’s very much...