now we can see the book stand

Gary Roberts of kindly captured the bookstand photo for me & emailed it this morning…
book stand 1695


So now you can compare this joined one with the turned one I did. When I get the slide scanner running again, I’ll load photos of the original turned one.

Thanks again to Trent for sending the link to this new one & to Gary for rescuing the picture.

turned book stand


book stand rear view

Bretagne joinery (& an English book stand)

Some of you will remember the great sketches that arrived in my inbox one day.

They were from Maurice Pommier, who now has sent some photos from his trip to Bretagne (Brittany to some of us…)

Bretagne interior


Maurice’s note:   “I forget to say you where exactly I take tese pictures: In the “écomusée des monts d’Arrée” Kerouat mills. The first mill was built in 1641 the last mill was in activity until 1965. It was a hamlet of millers farmers and bakers.”  Note the joined enclosed beds on the left. 

I dug out a website, here:

 Some of this joined work is quite late by what we expect. here is a carved date of 1783. Notice the beveled edges to the framing parts; though one edge looks to be molded. The panels are “tabled” – there is a raised rectangular (well, maybe square here) area set off by an integral molding. All of this is proud of the section that fits in the panel groove in the frame. The center strut that supports the top is chopped right through the front rail; maybe that’s later, although the use of these bracing members is not unusual. Typically they don’t usually show.



Some of the carving. Seems familiar. The door that is just seen on the right has a mitered mortise & tenon joint, it looks like. I showed this joint ages ago, then I called it a mitered bridle joint, which made it hard to search for just now.

carved joined work, Brittany


door frame, cupboard; Brittany


One more, a joined press. Thanks for sending these along Maurice, great stuff.

joined press, Brittany



Trent sent another auction link the other day, I have tried to copy the photo to here, but it didn’t want to happen. BUT it’s a great book stand, dated 1695. Different from the one I copied, but clearly the same general idea… follow the link. For only $3000 you missed it…

chests of drawers


chest of drawers with doors


Trent sent me a link to this object; coming up in a sale at Sotheby’s in April. It’s mid-17th century, English. Really high-style, on a par with the carved Dutch work I showed a few weeks ago. This one is listed as oak, fruitwood, mother-of-pearl, bone & ivory. Doesn’t mention snakewood or other tropical woods; but I imagine that’s what the veneers are, perhaps the applied turnings as well. 

At first glance, it’s not even apparent what this thing is – for those new to joinery, it’s a chest of drawers, with doors. It comes in two cases, the lower contains (usually) three drawers, behind a pair of doors.  The upper case has two drawers, one very shallow, the other quite deep. There is a fabulous Boston example at Yale University’s Art Gallery. 

Five years ago, I strolled thru the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and shot some pretty poor photos of one they display. Here’s some of those photos:

V&A COD w doors, open


V&A COD detail


Not too long ago, Trent & I looked at the pared-down cousin of the Yale one at the MFA. No doors. Still a great object.

chest of drawers


I got this shot from their website,  but you’ll see more of it when Trent & I finish our article for American Furniture 2010. Woods used include ebony for the long applied turnings on the upper case.

I was both surprised and pleased to see that the deep drawer was made of stock that is glued-up – surprised because I assumed it was wide oak stock riven from a giant log. Pleased because, if the day comes when I get to make one for my wife, I can work it up from a reasonable oak log. (my photos below show different color because of lighting conditions, these shots were for study purposes…)

interior view, deep drawer on MFA chest of drawers


The drawers are oak on the sides & rear, I think pine fronts if I remember right. The carcass is made up mostly of oak & cedrela odorata; a cousin of mahogany. But in this case, riven stock. Some cedrelas are ring-porous, which means they split well; unlike mahogany, with its interlocked grain. (like I know anything about mahogany)

detail, drawer front MFA


The drawer’s back board is wide oak; but riven down to clapboard-like thickness. barely dressed at all…just on the inside.

rear view deep drawer


Here’s the drawer’s details; half-blind dovetails at front; rabbet at rear (nailed from the back); a groove for the bottom boards to fit to the inside of the drawer front. Bottom is nailed up to the edges of the sides and rear. The side-hung deep drawer runs on a pair of slats inside the case, all the other drawers have single runners. I doubt I measured the drawer; but my guess is it’s about 10″ deep, maybe a bit more.

1/2 blind dovetails; double grooves for runners


So, not the kind of stuff I am making these days; but the stuff I am thinking about while we write this spring. Really the pinnacle of joinery in New England. Look up Yale’s when you get a chance; here is a link:

springtime projects

I have a few odds and ends tonight.

recent projects


The museum opened this week, so I have less leeway regarding photos. In the winter, I can set up lights and spend the time necessary to get the shots composed the way I want…not so once the place is open to the public. But, I get more woodworking done this way…less fiddling about.

I started off with some small projects; including a rabbet plane I am working on. This one the body is white oak. At this stage, I am trying to fashion the wedge so that it ejects the shavings…so some tinkering is next.

rabbet plane, white oak w beech wedge


If I were in England, this weekend I would join the Regional Furniture Society for their trip to see the carved chests from Devon. These items were exhibited in Exeter this past fall, but now these folks are getting a close look at those that remain. The RFS has the greatest trips, lectures, etc. They produce an excellent journal; and their newsletters are equally enjoyable. Here’s their link. If you have an interest in furniture history, go ahead & join the RFS. It might be an excuse for a trip to England for you at some point…

 This carved panel I just did (and part of the frame) is inspired by the joined furniture that is part of their focus this weekend…

red oak frame & panel


Down the road from the house here, someone cut out an apple tree. I got some of the wood, and have been making some spoons from it. Today though, I took a small, straight chunk and turned a bowl from it; I still have the other half of the blank this bowl came from, that’s for after the weekend.  The bowl is inspired by Robin Wood’s stuff; I won one of his bowls last year, and have wanted to make some of them since then. I did a few out of cherry; but around here nothing is better than apple for this sort of work. and

Also from the same chunks of apple are two brace-heads I turned at the end of the day…there’s a tiny bit in between the brace parts that gets cut out. That’s later though, this wood is sopping wet. 

apple turned work


A lunchtime walk on the beach got me these photos of some great kites this week…



pirate kite


Next to last, I lost a half-hour at least tonight, when my great good friend Heather sent a note about new prints she’s selling of her paintings. I had seen many of these before, but I had to look again.

Quaker Stillness, Heather Neill


And now, if any sisters, etc have made it this far,  a twin-fix for those who look for that sort of thing here. Springtime on the Jones…

down by the riverside

get Moxon

If you have read much of this blog, or listened to me or Alexander at any length, eventually you hear us come around to Moxon.  For those who are not familiar with his name, Joseph Moxon (1627-1691) was a printer in London, and in the last quarter of the seventeenth century he wrote a book called Mechanick Exercises, or the Doctrine of Handyworks. Chapters covered include joinery, turning, carpentry, as well as blacksmithing, “bricklayery” and Mechanick Dyalling (the making of a sun-dial).

Moxon's Mechanick Exercises


Moxon won’t teach you how to build a piece of joined furniture; but he illustrates and discusses the tools necessary for the work, and describes the techniques of making a mortise and tenon joint, how to plane the stock, etc. The book has been out of print again for the past few years; after going thru several reprints in the 2nd half of the 20th century.

Now Gary Roberts of Dedham, MA has brought it back again, in a facsimile edition. About a year or so ago, Gary released a CD version; I got that too, then when the book came along recently, I grabbed that as well. I already have a couple of editions (modern ones, not antiques!) and Alexander has others I don’t have. But better to have too many, than not enough. It’s not like there’s a lot of 17th c books on the subject.

If you don’t have a copy, bop over to Gary’s site & get one. cheap and clean. If you have one, maybe you need a shop copy in addition to a shelf copy.

(all that disclaimer stuff – I have never met Gary, tho we have exchanged some emails. I have no interest in this gig, and I paid for my copies…so there. If it stunk, I would have said little or nothing. It’s worth getting.)

If you have Schwarz’ version of Moxon,  you still need this one, that one is only the chapter on joinery.

wooden brace

I’m kind of in-between things these days. the museum opens this weekend, so lots of cleaning & sharpening in my shop right now. Then I will get back to some projects. One thing I hope to work on soon are some tools; I have some plane-making to resume, and I want to make a brace & bit for my shop. I dug out some of the braces I made years ago for review.  Here’s two of the same general design, based on an oldie at Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth.  I made mine out of maple; “pads” are hickory I think. Heads are ash, it looks like. These tools have seen regular use for about 10 years or more.

brace & bit/wimble/piercer


The head is made in two pieces; I think I made this up. The original when I saw it was in a case…I never handled it. So I turned a pin with a head, & that is fitted through a hole in the top end of the brace. Then the head itself is bored through as well, and the tenon end of the pin fits through that & is wedged.

head for brace


top view of brace's head


The bits are probably early 20th-century…and Mark Atchison fits them into pads I make. The pad spreads like a clothes pin, you squeeze the end of it to insert it into the brace. Mark grinds the tapered tangs into flat, tapered tangs. then bores holes for them, & burns them in…one got fitted with an iron ferrule, (first photo here) that might be after the fact; once it started to get beat up.

pad & bit


Here’s the old one I photographed; come to think of it, I had some measurements, so we must have had it out of the case years ago. then this photo was just maybe 5 years ago…that’s when I shot it through the case. So maybe I didn’t make up the way the head fits…

wimble & bit; probably 17th c; New England


more joint ID marks

marked up interior

here we are looking at the proper right rear stile of a New England 17th-century  joined chest. I marked some points I wanted to show – (click the pictures to enlarge, these are small details we’re looking at.)

  •  the height of the mortise is struck with an awl (and presumably) a square. The awl skitters a bit across the fibers of the oak. A knife would cut it more cleanly..
  • the joint ID marks that I wrote about last night are clearly shown, chopped with a very narrow chisel. I’d guess about 1/4″.
  • the pins securing the rear frame were driven in, then the pin from the side blew through it.


Here’s a photo I couldn’t find last night; of an assembled stool. Shows the joint ID marks – the stile just gets one mark, then the two rails (in this case, aprons) each have the numeral I chopped in them.

joint ID marks

mortise & tenon; marking the joints

I was working last week or so on the stool book project. That’s why I assembled a small joined stool the other day, it was to shoot trimming the feet.  While I was at it, I shot some stuff concerning the “joint ID” that we will present in the text. This is what I mean:

II goes in II


If you have read my blog, or even had the displeasure of being a victim of  mine in a workshop…then you know I won’t use a pencil to mark these joints. but marking them somehow does help to keep them straight. All these pieces look the same when stacked on the bench. But I have never seen a joined stool with its pieces marked out for assembly. But these sorts of marks are quite common on larger pieces of furniture; chests, cupboards and such. And they are found in carpenters’ work all the time as well. Carpenters need a more detailed method of marking, having so many joints to keep track of…but us joiners have it pretty easy. Alexander & I decided years ago to use chisels and gouges to mark a stool, borrowing the method from other joinery.

The picture above is a stretcher (lower rail) meeting a stile – it is marked with the 5/16″ mortise chisel that cut the stool’s mortises. I have stumbled along until I have a method that only uses numbers I & II. I mark one “frame” of the stool with the mortise chisel, the oppostie frame with a gouge.

joint ID wth gouge


The aprons (upper rails) and stretchers (lower rails) are not interchangeable, thus can each be I & II. With one set done with the chisel, the other with the gouge, they are distinct.

The angled end rails then are marked according to where they fall in the stool; one end with a chisel, the other with the gouge. simple.

Once I get the front & rear frames  assembled, I set them on the bench with their feet together…then I can set the end rails in one section…

foot to foot


and drop the other on top…

like this…


boxes & a chair for sale

wainscot chair
wainscot chair, side view
white oak boxes

today is a VERY dreary day here, weather-wise. Cold, windy & heavy rain…

I spent the morning at this desk, trying to re-learn how to work my website. I rarely work with it, so when I need to update it, it’s a project. What I wanted to add today was an announcement for a Spring-Cleaning Sale. The remaining small boxes (3 altogether) and the wainscot chair pictured here are now 20% off the regular prices. My house is over-run with both chairs and boxes, and if I want to make any more, I have to get these out of here. The income wouldn’t hurt either. So if anyone is inclined, the links are below. PayPal is now part of the gig. Shipping will be additional…I can deliver the chair for folks in the vicinity, the boxes are small enough so that shipping is cheap.

PS: Ahhh, I told you I didn’t know what I was doing with the website – I left off the price of the wainscot chair. Now fixed there, now fixed here.

Boxes were $600, now $480. Wainscot chair was $4,000. Now $3200.