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Books and DVDs

The Joiner and Cabinet Maker

The Joiner and Cabinet Maker

Authors:  Anon, Christopher Schwarz, and Joel Moskowitz

ISBN: 978-0-578-03926-8

Available through The Lost Art Press (with DVD here);  Tools for Working Wood; and Lee Valley.

Published 1839; 1841; 1883 (w/addendum), and 2009 (expanded edition includes 1883 addendum and added commentary, notes, and instructions)

First published in 1839, The Joiner and Cabinet Maker is an instructional text on the life of a young joiner's apprentice, and tells the story of a fictional young apprentice by the name of Thomas, starting with his applying for the position and his initial duties in the shop.  Eventually, Thomas builds a client a small packing box, then a "School Box", and finally a simple dresser.  The author goes into great detail on all of these projects Thomas completes, giving us one of the earliest, intimate views of early 19th century woodworking procedures and techniques.

Tom Law's Saws

I just brought his name up in my last post here, and now I see there is more on famed saw-sharpener Tom Law being brought up on the various forums.  It appears he's not doing too well. From a post by Dave Caudill on the WoodCentral Hand Tools Forum:

Hide Glue - Historical and Practical Applications by Stephen Shepherd


Click to enlarge


Hide Glue - Historical and Practical Applications by Stephen Shepherd

 Modern adhesives have come a long way, especially when one considers that most of them have been developed after the Second World War.  The most common glues used in woodworking today are likely white or yellow glues and epoxy, with polyurethanes pulling in a close third. Before WWII, hide (animal) glue was used almost exclusively.  It's favor has diminished in the eyes of most woodworkers today, it's use relegated to restorers and "purists", for reasons I don't really understand.

The modern glues all work well, each with their own strengths.  Yet none, at least in my opinion, work as well as traditional hide glue.  Yet, I've seen it's use actually discouraged - something I find somewhat unsettling.  I remember reading one well respected epoxy protagonist's views of using it rather than hide glue for repairing chairs.  "It can fill gaps where the wood has worn or broken" was said, as well as "it can later be disassembled with 'gentle heating' ".  My first thought was how unfortunate for the future restorer such a choice would be.  I've never known an epoxy to release it's grip with anything close to what could be called "gentle heating".   Also, while it does have impressive gap-filling capabilities, a properly repaired joint won't require it.  I've restored several old pieces of furniture, some the product of later restorations using epoxies and yellow glues, others that had been assembled with hide glue.  The latter were always a joy to work on or to restore.  The former were nearly always frustrating in some manner.

There are hide glue advocates that remain, and Stephen Shepherd is one of them.  Mr. Shepherd is a learned woodworker, schooled heavily in traditional methods and materials.  He publishes an oft-updated blog at, which is a great resource for many woodworking tasks, and a must-read for any hand tool enthusiast.  He's worked as a "period" woodworker in a pioneer village, restores and builds traditional furniture and tools, and has published previous works on woodworking in the 19th century as well as some magazine articles.  His latest work, titled "Hide Glue - Historical and Practical Applications", is an attempt to educate today's woodworker on the uses and benefits of hide glue.

Review: The Art of Joinery by Joseph Moxon with Commentary by Christopher Schwarz

Joseph Moxon's "The Art of Joinery" is one of the earliest texts available to the general public written on woodworking, dating from around the late 1600's. It's actually one part of a compilation of articles written by Moxon starting in 1678, and compiled into book form later, which was titled "The Mechanik Exercises or the Doctrine of Handy-Works". It's significance is really in it's age - it is such an early example of the methods used by woodworkers, that its study is at least somewhat warranted just for that fact alone.

Moxon's the Art of Joinery

This latest "edition" also includes commentary by Popular Woodworking editor Chris Schwarz, who has also edited the original text in places to help clear up some of the grammar used by Moxon (English was a different language then than it is now) to make it more palatable and understandable to today's reader. Since reading this book, I've been putting off doing a review on it... When it first arrived I was excited to read the book, and I really, really wanted to do a glowing review on an insightful interpretation of a significant historical text, but - I just can't do that - at least not completely.



Workbenches: from Design & Theory to Construction & Use by Chris Schwarz

The editor for both Popular Woodworking and Woodworking magazines, Chris Schwarz, has published his first book: Workbenches: from Design and Theory to Construction and Use. Over the years I've become a fan of Mr. Schwarz's; he's helping bring the hand tool element back to the over "powered" woodworking magazines of the last two decades. For the last many years, magazines have disappointed me again and again with their over-"powered" approach to absolutely everything.

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