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Craftsman's Lounge The Craftsman's Lounge

Welcome. Come in and spend some time in the Craftsman's Lounge - a "Reading Room," if you will.

Here you'll find a growing number of links to books, articles, and blogs of interest to woodworkers of all stripes.  I've placed and emphasis on those with information concerning traditional methods, but all persuasions are represented.  

I add articles as I run across them, so please check back, you never know what you'll find.


The Craftsman Magazine Articles

Home Training in Cabinet Work:
      New Series of Practical Talks on Structural Wood Working
So, as a budding woodworker around the turn of the last century, how great would it have been to apprentice at home under 'The Craftsman' himself - Gustav Stickley?  As editor of The Craftsman Magazine, as well as founder of the Stickley Furniture Company, Mr. Stickley published a series of articles, beginning in the February 1905 issue, aimed at improving the skills of the aspiring  cabinetmaker.

In addition to dispensing advice on what makes up a solid kit of tools, tips on wood selection, and finishing, he also provides plans and material lists to take you from a rank beginner to a solid home-craftsman.  Be advised that the plans are are a bit short on instructions for our modern tastes, but the intermediate woodworker should have no trouble figuring out the joints and how they should be fitted.

Books & Articles at The OldToolsShop

The Storage Bin
Here is an extensive collection of Manuals, Catalogues, and Information submitted by Wiktor Kuc and Galoots from the OldTools List.  This is a great place to find out about cleaning your latest rust haul with citric acid, sharpening with a hard felt wheel, or just kicking back and writing up a "fantasy order" from the 1926 Henry Disston Catalogue.  There is literally (or literary-ly) hundreds of hours of reading there.

From an historical How-To perspective I would like to suggest two books by William. Noyes, Design and Construction in Wood -1913 (10.5MB), directed toward the beginning woodworker with lots practical projects, and Handwork in Wood -1910 (21 MB), a book aimed at woodworking instructors - both books are complete with photos of  'guys in ties' in the shop, ala Bernard Jones.  Also, as an answer to that question that crops up on the OldTools List regularly see Handbook On Japanning (559K), a 1913 book by William N. Brown.  The USDA has put together a comprehensive booklet on the care and feeding of the Axe in An Ax to Grind - 1999 (17.5 MB).  This booklet features tips an techniques on the field axe from their historical expert who instructs rangers on hand tool use in Wilderness Areas.  And for sheer machine-engraving and old-time-advertising overload, you can't beat the fairly large download of The Woodworker (30MB), a 1921 vintage trade publication.  Bon Appétit.

In The Shop
This is a less formal area with a collection of stories, experience, and tips, along with some interesting and entertaining posts from the OldTools List.  Here you can read about other's experience with shooting/chuting boards, how to make your own 'pore-o-pac,' fabricating scrapers from old saws, etc.

HAND SAWS - Their Use, Care and Abuse       
Gary at The Toolemera Press hosts this PDF of an 1888 book by Fred T. Hodgson.  In the book's 96 pages Mr. Hodgson covers the evolution of saw from the Egyptian times through late the 19th Century.   As the title says... he covers it all. The link will take you to a page with several saw care and use titles. 

Farm Blacksmithing      
Wik, has unearthed a great blacksmithing primer geared toward everyday use, well everyday on the farm back about 1900.  This is a great reference for us want-a-be smiths.

Project Gutenberg Ebooks

•  A Course in Wood Turning
This is a link to the ever-expanding Project Gutenberg, the online source of copyright books has re-published this 1919 vintage book by Archie S. Miton & Otto K Wohler as a free ebook.  The book is a primer on the basics of wood turning and is an outgrowth of the authors' experience with high schools students of the day.  A Course in Wood Turning is divided into two parts, spindle turning and faceplate turning.  There are lots of exercises and many illustrations.  If at all possible, view the book in HTML format so that you can see the illustrations. 

Things To Make
Things to Make by Archibald WilliamsHere is an undated book from the early 20th century by Archibald Williams.  At 441 pages, this book contains a wide ranging collection of projects for the home craftsman, from joiners bench, to sheds, and doors.  Mr. Williams as has toys for both the adult and the child, such as  telegraph keys, harmonographs, steam tops, water motors, and a miniature gasworks. 

Illustrated History of Furniture - From the Earliest to the Present Time
This  link will take you to a generously illustrated 1893 book by Fredrick Litchfield.  When Mr. Litchfield said earliest, he meant it, since it begins with Egyptian and Roman homes and works his way through mediaeval and into the Victorian era.  A good book to separate the Chippendale from the Jacobean in your mind.

Handbook on Japanning
This 1913 era book link will answer most of those questions regarding that odd thick black finish on your Stanley planes.

 Woodwork Joints
Through over 400-line drawings this 1930 era book by William Fairham illustrates the proper methods of laying out and executing woodworking joints.  In addition to the standard joints and variations that you'd expect, Mr. Fairham also covers curved and circular work, as well as a few puzzle joints.

French Polishing and Enameling
This 1910 era book on French polishing goes quite a bit beyond the basics and contains a chapter on various finishing formulas, as well as a list of natural ingredients, just in case you want to brew your own.

Boy Mechanic - Volume 1 - by Popular Mechanics
Subtitled, 700 things for Boys to Do with 800 illustrations Showing How. This 587 page book, published in 1913 is loaded with the types of projects that I would have loved as a boy - there are also some that would turn a mother's hair prematurely gray.  All in all, it is a great browse and I can't wait for Volume 2!

NEW Carpentry for Boys
The full title of this 220 page book is Carpentry for Boys in simple language, including chapters on drawing, laying out work, designing, and architecture.  Along with its companion books, Electricity for Boys and Practical Mechanics for Boys this 1914 vintage series by J. S. Zerbe is a great look at the simple version of the manual arts around the turn of the last century. 

English Housewifery
When it's time to whip up a golootish lunch you will find this 1764 book the last word on stewing a pike and pickling a smelt, or after closing up shop for the day, how to make a jug of 'ratife brandy.'

Note about project Gutenberg ebooks. They are usually available in at least a couple of formats (e.g. plain text, PDF, MS Word, Rich Text, etc.- both standard and zipped).  As are all things on the net, as the visual quality gets better as the file gets larger.  You may have to chose a zip version of the PDF or Rich Text format and  "open" the zip file on your computer.

Articles / eBooks Elsewhere on the Net

A Manual of Sorrento and Inlaid Work for Amateurs with Original Designs Manual of Sorento & Inlaid Work by Arthur Hope
This book, hosted on a multilingual site, was originally published in 1876 by Arthur Hope. This 63-page book provides a nice overview of the "how to" of manual inlay, sometimes referred to as Sorrento for the Italian city of its origin in the 15th century.  This site also has quite a few patterns and some beautiful examples of scroll saw work. 

Early American Industries Association (EAIA) Articles 
This link takes you to Look-Smart's "Find Articles" archive of EAIA articles.  At the time of this writing there were 490 articles about everything from American & British plane makers, to wagon wheelwrights, edge toolmakers, and wampum manufacturers..  They have quite a nice collection to peruse. 

The Sloyd System of Woodworking
If you have a young woodworker in your midst, this 1892 book by B.B. Hoffman, hosted at Google Books, is worth consulting. The book describes the Swedish "Naas" or Sloyd System of teaching manual arts.  Aside from the preliminary comments on theory the book contains over 80 examples of woodworking projects for children from kindergarten level pointing stick to complex high school level coopering and furniture building.

NEW Cooperage
This book on barrel and cask making by J.B. Wagner, published in 1910 is centered on the mechanized version of cooperage as practiced in the early 1900s.  it is loaded with engravings of specialize cooperage machines, which is interesting in itself.  For the hand tool woodworker there Mr. Wagner goes into great detail on wood species and their optimal uses  There is also a section of  Useful Information at the end.

Workshop Recipes
This work published in 1883 and written by Ernest Spon, Robert Haldane, and Charles George Warnford Lock, this book is a collection of formulas for around-the-shop basics such as, extracts, essences, cleaning supplies, dying, staining, paint, etc.  There is even a recipe for grain alcohol -  for your shellac of course.

 Mechanic's Companion
Another Google Books item, this American book, published in 1842 and written by  Peter Nicholson is subtitled "The Elements and Practice of Carpentry, Joinery, Bricklaying, Masonry, Slating, Plastering, Painting, Smithing, and Turning."   What else can I say?.

 The Furnishing of a Modest Home
Hosted at Cornell University, this book originally published in 1872, by Fred Hamilton Daniels addresses furnishing an affordable house of the day.  The concept is interesting in and of itself, but in doing so, several illustrations  are used showing furniture and their proportions to room size, etc.  A nice snapshot of Victorian attitudes toward decor.

 Popular Woodworking Magazine Featured Articles 
PW Magazine is offering selected articles from their magazine on their free website. The selection is growing and covers a wide range of topics, such as finishing, chisel use, hand scraper tuning, wood turning, etc.  All this with a searchable index

Mackenzie's Five Thousand Receipts in all the Useful and Domestic Arts
Originally published in 1854, this is one of those 19th century recipe (or receipt) books with concoctions for everything from varnish, fresco paints, various colors of ink, to elixirs and remedies for gout and cankers.  Just the thing to have on-hand in the workshop.  

Rustic Carpentry
Another Paul N. Hasluck book from the turn of the last century.  This one from 1907, has copious illustrations of rustic furniture and stuff you really wanted to make as a boy scout.  Good sources of inspiration for those with a Catskills cabin.

NEW  The Book of Garden Furniture
If you like your outdoor furniture a bit more refined and less itchy, Charles Thongers book published in 1903 captures the elegance that existed in fine late- and post-Victorian homes, such as the open-air breakfast house, pergola, and the espalier fence.

NEW  Introduction to Mechanical Principles of Carpentry
This is a venerable work in two parts by Benjamin Hale published in 1827 concerns itself with the "Strength and Stiffness of Timber" and "Statics Applied to Construction of Timber". Of course you can get more up-to-date information, but I doubt you can find a more exhaustive treatment of the subject, outside a structural engineering textbook.  (Oh yes, "statics" deals with the equilibrium mechanics of stationary bodies, such as beams and trusses.

Chris Pye's Slipstone Carving eBooks  
Chris Pye is a master carver who obviously loves his work and sharing his knowledge.  Chris has published a dozen ebooks on carving and sharpening, all of which are available on his website. While you are there take a look at his work, and sign up for his newsletter.  His Ebooks are now available in PDF format.

NEW  Wood Carving
A classic 1891 book by Charles G Leland, revised by John Holtzapffel, covering tools, techniques, woods, and simple patterns.  The book is broken into twenty lessons  taking you from the basics, to carving in the round.  The book is illustrated with hundreds of line drawings.  Hosted by Google Books.

Turning and Mechanical Manipulation
Originally published in 1856, by Charles Holtzapffel - yes the same Holtzapffel as the workbench made newly famous by Christopher Schwarz of Woodworking Magazine.  This early book is a snapshot of the woodworking process craft in the mid-19th Century. This book was digitized by, a project of the Microsoft Corporation.

EAIA - The Chronicle  
Use the link above to begin your search on LookSmart for articles from The Chronicle, of the Early American Industries Association. Over 500 articles and entries are listed. 

Breakfast Table at Tiffany'sTwo Pedestal Tiffany Breakfast Room Table (c.1885)
During the summer of 2006 I attended the exhibit, Louis Comfort Tiffany: Artist For the Ages, at the Dallas Museum of Art.  Since I dabble in stained glass - dare I say art glass - as well as wood,  I thought that the show might provide insight as well as inspiration.  What I didn't expect to find was a primitive, painted, Arts & Crafts  breakfast table and chair in among all the gilded finery.  The odd thing is thatTiffany Breakfast Room Chair - circa 1885 the breakfast suite was designed and built by furniture makers J. Matthew Meier and Ernest Hagen for use in the Tiffany Mansion, a seven-story Romanesque edifice at the corner of Madison Ave & 72nd Street in NYC. 

The table on display at the DMA had a single pedestal, while the photo above/right is a sister table with two pedestals - I could not find a photo of the single. The table is an exceeding simple and unadorned, designed much like a draftsman's table or even a sawhorse with an attached board-top.  It is openly gusseted and attached to the "sawhorse" support by what look like hand screws (see photo referenced in article or here)..  The main link in the heading of his section takes you to a page at  the Chipstone Foundation where Milo M. Naeve describes the furniture and its history history in detail - if your browser displays their page in teeny-tiny type like mine you may want to actually read it here.

Davistown Museum in Liberty, ME
This is a great site with a smattering of information on a wide range of tool topics.  The museum has preserved a random assortment of great information onsite, through links, and less useful for us west of the Mississippi, on paper. 

There are several articles about early tools, tool use, tool-making techniques, metallurgy, phenomenology, chemical issues, etc. dating from the Bronze age through the 19th century.  There are lists containing information on Sheffield manufactories, Forges located in Massachusetts Bay in 1778,  and a Survey of Ironworks of Southeastern New England 1645—1840. They also have old catalog page reproductions and a few excerpts from Moxton,   There is even a “Tool Exam” with answers (Exam / Answers).

NEW Consulting Woodworker 
This website hosted by Ralph Bagnall, a professional woodworker, has a great collections of  published articles written by Mr. Bagnall on subjects such as built-up moulding, miter-less picture frames, a traveling game table,  and a shop-built fluting jig.  you will also find a collection of useful tips and images of some of his furniture and

Furniture of the Pilgrim Century, 1620 - 1720  
This book by Wallace Nutting, originally published in 1921, is considered a seminal work regarding the breadth of American furniture produced during this 100-year period. Mr. Nutting, an accomplished author, lecturer, and furniture maker, personally took the vast majority of the over 1,000 furniture  photographs.   

Preserving Arts & Skills of Trades (PAST) Articles
A collection by Ken Greenburg of articles appearing in PAST's "Tool Talk" newsletter..  Most articles deal with a variety of subjects from how to work ivory to a two-part series on mechanical pencil sharpeners.

Newsletters, Ezines, Blogs, Audio, and Video

The following associations, magazines, and companies maintain blogs, or an online collection of back newsletters and ezines.  Enjoy!

Southwest Tool Collectors Association Newsletters
San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association Newsletters
Lee Valley Woodworking Newsletter
Victorian Woodworkers Association Newsletter
CRAFTS of New Jersey's Newsletter The Tool Shed
Guild of Oregon Woodworkers  - Newsletters back to 1998
Country Workshops
NEW  Canadian Woodworking Magazine - Newsletters back to 2004
Canadian Woodworking Magazine Newsletter
NEW  Sydney Wood Turners Guild   Newsletters back to 2006

Woodworker's Journal Ezine- Current Issue & Archives back to 2002
Woodcarvers Ezine - Current Issue & Archives back to 1997 & Index
NEW The Woodworking Times - Half a dozen or so back issues of a How-To Ezine.

Woodworking Magazine Blog - Christopher Schwarz
Lost Art Press Blog - Christopher Schwarz
Fine Woodworking Magazine Blog
Popular Woodworking Magazine Blog - Various authors
Popular Woodworking Magazine Blog -  Adam Cherubini
The Wood Whisperer -  Marc Spagnau
TreeFrogFurniture -  Brad Ferguson
Chair Notes Blog - Peter Galbert
Highland Hardware Woodworking Blog

Rockler Woodworking Blog
Sandal Woods Blog - Al Navas
NEW Furnitology Productions Blog - Neil Lamens
Folding Rule Blog - David Pruett
Woodworkers Resource Blog -
Workbench & Woodsmith's tips in a Blog format.
Design Blogs - A long list of Blogs concerning design - not just woodworking

Audio Podcasts
NEW Woodworkers Resource - Interview with Christopher Swartz on Workbenches

Videos / Podcasts
Wood Magazine Videos - Free to the public
Fine Woodworking Magazine Videos - Skills & Technique Videos - Subscription Only
• The Woodwright's Shop Video - 26th Season - 27th Season
The Wood Whisperer -  Marc Spagnuolo

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