In Chris Schwarz Blog, Required Reading

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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 rated G.

These articles from 1981 and 1982 are Charles Hayward’s recollections of shop life in England before 1914. Hayward, the legendary woodworking editor and author, wrote and illustrated many of the classic texts that still serve me today, including “Woodwork Joints” and “Tools for Woodwork.” (Both are out of print but available used.)

But before he became an author, Hayward was an apprentice and a professional cabinetmaker in a colorful shop that built new furniture, performed repairs and made new furniture look like really old furniture (yes, that’s a nice way of saying he made fakes).

The shop was populated by all manner of amusing characters, which Hayward describes in great detail. Plus there’s a drunken girl fight, dangerous machine shops and snooty butlers.

It’s a fun piece to read and probably will make you glad that:

1. You were not born as Pongo the shop boy.

2. That you do woodworking as a hobby, and not as a career in 1914 England.

Download the article (in pdf format) by clicking here.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 5 comments
  • Christopher Schwarz

    "Why wasn’t the title used on your T-shirts?"

    Because only half of it applies to me.


  • Rick Roberts

    Why wasn’t the title used on your T-shirts?

  • Matt

    Excellent article. Thanks for the link.

  • Gary Roberts


    My apologies on the less then helpful linkage. I’ll redo the site update this evening. The proper text link disappeared during the original and very buggy update.

  • Mattias in Durham, NC

    For those of you who (like me) have a hard time finding the pdf link, it’s on an Adobe Acrobat logo just to the left of "Thanks to a lead from Chris Schwarz".

    I haven’t read the whole essay yet, but based on the first page it looks like a very entertaining read indeed. I am definitely glad I live today, despite the economy and everything else the media likes to depress us with. On the whole we are probably better off now than at any previous point in history.


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