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Andre Roubo’s 18th century five-volume masterwork on woodworking, “L’Art du Menuisier,” needs to be translated to English. The little snippets I’ve picked up here and there are tantalizing and useful even to modern-day woodworkers.

As some of you might know, I’ve been working with Bjenk Ellefsen, a French-speaking reader, to begin translating the volume on carpentry and construction, but it has been slow-going for us (what with day jobs, families and woodworking hobbies to nurture).

To my great surprise, I recently was contacted by Jack Metcalfe , a practicing marqueteur living in Leeds, England , who has been working on translating the volume on marquetry with the help of a retired Scottish school teacher, Ms. Beatrix Wickens. She has completed the initial translation of that volume and they are now sorting out the technical language to polish the language. (The photo above is of one of their translation sessions together.)

The plan is eventually to publish this volume (and others) as a public service for the woodworking community. Here’s where you can help. We need to find someone who has copies of the Roubo volumes that are more than 70 years old in order to reproduce the images from the books and comply with a variety of copyright laws.

If you have a first or second edition of Roubo, or if you know someone who does, could you contact us? While the commercial aspects of a project like this are minor for all involved, you would be doing a great service to the modern woodworkers in helping to bring this translation back into print.

You can contact Jack directly through his web site:

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 7 comments
  • Jack Camillo

    they should be sitting at a wood table

  • Jay Oyster

    This may be stating the obvious, or something you all already know, but there is a copy listed in the U.S. Library of Congress collection:

    I’m not sure, but I believe it is referencing a first edition which is available, on site in Washington, in paper, microfiche, and electronic formats. As a public domain document, they may allow images to be taken from their electronic copy.

  • J.C.

    I forwarded the contact info to Jack for a 1st edition that is available in England. They’re asking $12K for it! But, I suggested that he contact them and arrange for a look-see and possibly co-op the pics for an Anglo translation and publishing credit. We’ll see.


  • Andy

    Hi Chris,
    As far as locating the old volume, I would suggest searching library catalogues via internet, then contacting your local librarian to acquire the (70 year-old or older) edition with inter-library loan.

  • Marc Gelinas

    Would it be any help if some of your french speaking readers contributed a page here and there. I do understand that the quality of the translations could vary greatly but it would be a start.

  • Gary Roberts


    Do I ever wish I could help! I have the 19th C so called revision, which is really a total re-write focusing on paladian architecture. I have a lot of Diderot plates and have been searching for years for affordable Roubo plates. But no, not a single one. Like you, I try not to drool too much over the Roubo reprint. But you never know what lies around the next corner!


  • David Benton

    Got a few grand to drop on a copy?? My jaw hit my desk when I saw some of the prices for this book. Bookfinder is a good resource for finding, well books. I don’t know if this helps, but hopefully it will. Also, I hope that the copies you produce are at a lower price point.*&destination=us&currency=USD&mode=basic&st=sr&ac=qr

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