This month I’m finishing up work on a new book called “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” that is a bit unusual. You can read full details about it on my personal web site, but the quick over-the-back-fence summary is this:
A couple years ago, Joel Moskowitz at Tools for Working Wood stumbled on a virtually forgotten 1839 book that tells the fictional tale of a young apprentice and how he learns the skills to become a journeyman woodworker. We’re republishing the original text, plus Joel is adding a chapter that will be a “History Channel”-style snapshot of England in 1839. I built the three projects featured in the book using hand tools and explored many of the techniques discussed in the book.
In the course of the book, Thomas, the young hero of the story, builds three projects: a packing box, a school box and a full-fledged chest of drawers. The projects are well-built and nicely proportioned. But what is more remarkable is the small tool kit he uses to build these three projects.
I kept a running list of the tools Thomas used throughout the book, and I am almost embarrassed now by the number of tools I have in my toolbox (no, I won’t send my tools to you. I’m embarrassed , not crazy). For anyone who is interested in getting into handwork, I hope you’ll find this list comforting.
Marking & Measuring Tools
2′ Folding rule
1/4″ Mortising chisel
Brace and bits
Steel plate (for clinching and straightening nails)
If I had to add any one tool to this list, it would probably be a router plane. It’s also worth noting that the book doesn’t really get into mouldings, so most woodworkers would want to add a few moulding planes as well.
Building these three projects with a limited set of tools was a bit like going on a primitive camping trip. I was happy to return to civilization and fire up the table saw, powered jointer and planer for my next project. But I’m also dreaming of the day when I get to work like that again.
– Christopher Schwarz
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