Full Chisel Blog

August 30, 2008

Pen & Ink

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 6:13 am

I do have a reason to talk about Pen and Ink, in that I do make a fine quality Pen, but I don’t turn them and the finest Ink available.  I make wooden pen nib holders as I have a supply of Mr. Joseph Gillotts fine patented steel nibs.  I also make quill pens and there are some tricks that will let you make the finest quill pens and how to use them properly.   It is easy, just takes a feather.

Quill pens

 In the above illustration, I show how to properly prepare a goose quill {the preferred quill for pens}, how to harden and finally how to sharpen. 

 

A is a goose quill, from the right wing of a goose. 

 

B is the quill that has been clipped to length. 

 

C is the goose quill with the excess feathers removed.  (The fancy feather quills you see in movies is Hollywood, no one ever really wrote with a fully feathered quill, a bit too unwieldy). 

 

D is the quill as it looks after the feathers are removed, the end of the quill shaft is translucent. 

 

E is the goose quill after it has been ‘hardened‘ in hot sand.  I have a tin can with sand that is on the wood stove, when hot it will quickly turn the quill from translucent to opaque on the end.  This is the most important part of quill making.  How long it takes depends on how hot the sand is, so be careful as you can burn or singe the end of the quill.  Keep checking and remove it after it has turned opaque on its end.

 

F is after the quill has been cut off, and it is squeezed to crack the quill (for the ink) and the opposite crack cut off.  At this point you can determine which side of the quill you would like to use.  It mostly depends upon what feels right or how the quill with its natural curve fits into your hand.  Then choose which side to sharpen.  When you squeeze the quill it will break on two sides, one break or crack is removed when sharpening the other side.

 

G is the second cut that brings the tip to near finish.  These are carefully made with a sharp knife, a pen knife, I wonder where they got their name?

 

#1 is the first cut made to remove the opposite crack, made when the quill is squeezed and broken. 

 

#2 shows the secondary cuts made to bring the width of the quill to the proper width.  It is also important that each side of the split is uniform to make the proper width line.  Of course you are cutting the quill so you can make it as coarse (wide) or fine (narrow) as you like.  Also the longer the secondary cut the more flair you get as you write.

 

#3 shows the slight angle at which the end of the quill is trimmed depending if the user is left or right handed.  See I told you there is nothing to it. 

 

If you don’t harden the quill then it is too soft and too flexible to be a decent pen.  The sharpening is important and each side of the crack needs to be the same.  The crack is important as that is how the ink wicks down to the tip.  There are old pen knives with guillotines in them to make the slit (crack) and pen knives can be used to cut the slit, but cracking the quill makes a more natural cleavage for the ink to travel to the surface of the paper.  I have made wooden holders for goose quill nibs and have cut down goose quills for traveling pens.

 

As for penmanship, well that is another story, but when I first charge up my quill or steel nib pen, I usually use it upside down from how one would normally think of using an ink pen.  This prevents those big blobs of ink from a fully charged pen soiling your document.  Also when first charged if you hold it almost vertical when you start writing you will avoid the blob.  It is also important to clean your pen after each use, but that will require further discussion. 

 

Stephen

 

August 29, 2008

On the Move

Filed under: Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 6:46 am

Well, moving is not one of my favorite things to do, fortunately it is just my shop, but moving it isn’t on my list of fun things to do.  But it must be done and it is a good thing because I have found a bunch of stuff that I forgot I owned.  (I have a lot of stuff). 

 

This will also be good for organization as everything is categorized in the boxes for the most part.  This will make setting up the ‘new’ shop much easier, that and I have a lot more space at my new location. 

 

I spent about 5 hours yesterday finishing most of the packing.  Still a couple of boxes to fill, then the move is scheduled for next Tuesday.  It will be one big load in one big truck.  I will also have a few young backs to help with the heavy lifting. 

 

I found an ‘old’ coffee can with an incomplete Chess set that I picked up a few years ago.  It is a marvelous set with enough pieces to reproduce the missing ones.  Mr. Buss is very interested in making the missing pieces, so he took the can and a couple pieces of maple for that purpose.  I also found a couple of new chess sets I ordered from Lee Valley, nice Staunton pattern and real inexpensive. 

 

I also found a couple of chisels that I haven’t put handles on yet, a couple of saw blade blanks (they need handles as well) and a piece that was given to me as a very dull joiner knife blade.  Well it isn’t, it appears to be an 8 inch steel straight edge marked J.A, Fay & Egan Co.  OK Cincinnatti, Ohio.  Late, I know but it is a nice straight edge. 

 

I also found my package of horse hair and a half a pound of goose feathers, still can’t find my bottle of Cobalt Chloride.  I did have to carefully pack the chemicals, some are hazardous and that glycerin doesn’t mix well with the nitric acid, so separate boxes.  The little 8 ounce container of mercury weighs 8 and a half pounds and gets special attention.  I think if the Everclear is packed in boxes then it won’t violate the ‘open container’ law. (I use it for shellac thinner and for my alcohol torch (lamp)). 

 

I think it might just help to move every 4 years or so, as there is a lot of junk and crap that I accumulate and it is a good opportunity to cull the load.  I do still save little pieces of hardwood that I will keep, but a lot of stuff that I thought I would use, I threw it away and even felt good about it.  A few of the pieces gave me pause when I thought ‘What the hell was I thinking, saving this!’ and into the trash or firewood box (which should be full to the brim when I leave). 

 

One thing I did separate out and consolidate was my hardware.  It was scattered about so I got a small box to put it all in, the box was almost too small.  I didn’t realize how much of this stuff that I have, drawer locks, hinges, hasps, stays, catches and other hardware awaiting an appropriate project.  Some of these I got for specific items I want to make, some I got, just to have them with nothing specific in mind. 

 

Well enough of this, I am going to enjoy the Holiday weekend coming up and it is off to Ft. Bridger Wyoming on Sunday to visit the annual Rendezvous.  Great gathering, good stuff to buy and old friends to visit. 

 

Stephen

 

August 26, 2008

Contemplating the Future

Filed under: Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 7:01 pm

Although this is something I seldom do, as of late I have had cause to think about what is to come.  So to start here is a better (larger) image by Travis Lovell from a scan of a print that he gave me.  The other one I posted was from his web site.  I do look rather contemplative.

Travis Lovell Image

I spent the day with Mr. Buss, wrapping and packing the tools, spent about 5 hours.  I will have to do the same on the morrow then it is ready to move.  He brought up boxes, newspaper, strapping tape, Mr. Buss was prepared and very helpful as he has been over the past four years.  When he dropped me off, I had to end the goodbyes quickly as I told him I was about to cry.  (I do have a soft side and Mr. Buss and his delightful bride Georgia are dear friends, it is the people).

I have been invited back to work Haunted Halloween and Candlelight Christmas which I will probably do, just for fun, and I have been invited back for the 2009 Season.  The Park is also interested in buying some of my tools and want a list from me of things they might need.  (One person (in the administration), whom I will not name, said that they ‘don’t want to buy anything from me that they can buy from Home Depot’, no really he said that!  Mr. Buss thought that was one of the funniest things he had ever heard).  That is pretty funny.  Well there is that block plane blade I bought there and converted into a toothing blade, I will keep that.

Now I am sure my local friends will offer to ‘store’ the furniture from my shop for me as I have no room for it where I live.  I did bring home a few things that I can use, a painted work table to replace the puncheon table my one laptop sits upon, and a chestnut candle-stand, which  holds my Oxford Universal Dictionary quite nicely.

I will be setting up a slightly different kind of shop as it will be more friendly for photography.  I am even contemplating a web cam and will be shooting more pictures and more short videos to help with the visuals on my blog and web site.  It will be a traditional shop and about a 5 to 6 minute commute (by foot).

I am excited to see exactly what I am going to do.

Stephen

August 24, 2008

All good things come to an end…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 2:46 pm

as has my tenure at This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City.  I had been there 4 years with a year and a half back in the 1970′s, I have worked there under 4 administrations, so this is the fourth time I have been fired (well I didn’t renew a contract for one of those occasions) from there, not sure it looks good for either of us.  Oh well, I saw it coming and am well prepared to enjoy my (f)unemployment and I am close to retiring age, so no worries.

This will however free me up to spend more time on my blog (and new web site, coming soon) and I will be free to travel and maybe do some workshops, hint, hint.  I also plan on spending time writing, I have some drawings I would like to do, finish my novel and some personal projects I need to finish.  I have a couple of books to finish and a few to have reprinted. 

Now that I will have the time, I will get these things completed.  I have made arrangements for new shop space, but will be without my shop for a couple of weeks, lots of stuff to box up and move out, then set up.  Now maybe I can find a few things I know I have but don’t know where they are.

I had fun there and I harbor no hard feelings, I still love the Park.  But I am on to other things.

Stephen

 

August 23, 2008

What I would like to see…

Filed under: Furniture,Historical Material,Of Interest,The Trade,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:13 am

is a standard set for ‘reproduction’ furniture, but I don’t think that is going to happen.  I posted on WoodCentral and got several good responses (and one silly one) and have decided that it was indeed the nightmare I thought it would be. 

 

There is a difficulty in categorizing the stuff, disagreement on what the standards should be, on what variations are acceptable and many other issues.  Without a way to enforce any standards, if they could be agreed upon, such as a guild or society or association, the standards would be irrelevant. 

 

And as some pointed out many customers just don’t care as long as it looks good.  This is too bad as it doesn’t give proper credit to people who actually make ‘reproductions’, they are forced into the same category as modern furniture factories that make ‘reproductions*’, and that isn’t fair. But then again when is life ‘fair’? 

 

Lacking a standard the word ‘reproduction’ has little meaning as it has been corrupted to mean anything that looks like something old.  It is interesting that this is only relevant today as in the past people were not confronted with this issue.  They did however make ‘reproductions’, take Second Empire furniture, from classical works published in the early nineteenth century.  Colonial Revival popular during the centennial of America, varies greatly from the original colonial furniture that they were reproducing.  While outward appearances are similar, the construction techniques mirrored the technology of that time period,  Dowels instead of Mortise and Tenon joints, machine woven cane for chair seats, pointy screws and wire nails. 

 

One of the things about making reproduction furniture that I find very handy is that the work has already been done for me.  I don’t need to come up with a design, the old piece I am copying is in existence and all I need to do is reproduce the piece.  I don’t need to guess what tools they used as I can see by looking at the piece what tools it took to build the original (in most cases).  I know enough original techniques that I can employ to achieve the desired result, a ‘reproduction’.  Using similar materials as the original, it would be a legitimate reproduction and could be called such with impunity. 

 

I can’t compete with someone that uses modern tools, materials and techniques to build ‘reproductions’.  The big box furniture stores sells ‘reproductions’ and that is what we have to compete against and that just isn’t right.  Without standards this is the state of the trade and that is just too bad.  But calling both what I make and what is available at stores ‘reproductions’ is like comparing apples and dominoes.

 

 

When I am making reproductions, I have removed myself from the equation.  I don’t add anything to the mix as the design is already established, the tools and materials are known and the traditional techniques ensconced.  My particular work surroundings and conditions allow me to get into the ‘character’ or ‘persona’ of a nineteenth century Cabinet Maker.  After all I am ‘role-playing’ one all day long.  I wear the clothing, eat the food, talk the part, so it is a total immersion experience.  While I admit this is not necessary to accomplish the same task of making a proper reproduction, it does help me do what I do.

  

 

And there are those rare moments when I am engrossed in working, concentrating on the task at hand, when it all comes together and I can’t tell when I am.

 

Stephen

August 22, 2008

I had something on my mind…

Filed under: Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:53 pm

but it wasn’t much.  I had to post this photograph.  It was taken a few months ago when a group was filming at the Park where I work.  After the filming the cameraman asked if he could take a portrait.  I said yes, well he brought a copy by for me today.  Here it is.

Mr. Shepherd in the Cabinet Shop

His name is Travis Lovell.  This image is from his blog site, I will scan and post another, I didn’t know this was a small print.

 

Stephen

August 19, 2008

I Re-sharped a Saw

Filed under: Sharpening,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:57 pm

I recently posted about sharpening a 16 point rip saw that I had made a new handle for and used split saw nuts provided by Mike Wenzloff and have used it to cut some slots in 1/2″ diameter hickory muzzle-loading ramrods (a great source of hickory dowels by the way) and have cut some other stuff.

But I noticed the other day that the saw wasn’t cutting right and I looked at the teeth.  Now I have a feeling an apprentice may have cut into a nail or something, none of them will admit it, and the saw teeth in the center of the saw are unusually dull.  Now I do sharpen all of the teeth on my saws and I encourage my apprentices (I had 5, count them five in my shop today) to use all the teeth.  I know I do, so I am sure I did not cause the damage.

So I looked at the saw blade with 288 teeth total and wondered how to best go about re-sharpening.  I marked and carefully removed the new split saw bolts, removed the blade and contemplated filing all of the teeth again.  When I sharped the saw I could tell what teeth I was working on because they were rusted, so I could see the new metal and keep track of the little tiny teeth as I sharpened.

I jointed off the teeth to get them all to the same height, there was even more shiny stuff and it was difficult to see those little teeth, let alone isolating every other one.

But this saw, all of the teeth were still shiny and it looked like a nightmare.  Then I had a light come on in my head (not an incandescent light, they don’t exist in my world, but a grease light).  I light up a grease lamp, passed the blade in the flame and covered the teeth of the saw with soot.  I took care to get the soot on all the teeth (an alcohol lamp is soot-less so it doesn’t work, but a candle or oil lamp will).

I then put the saw into the chops, found the proper tooth to start on, then to my pleasant surprise, it was easy.  The teeth were black until I started filing, it was very easy to see the teeth that had been sharpened, so if I got distracted, which I do with 5 apprentices and one helper in the shop, I could go back and ‘see’ just where I left off.

This is an excellent technique which I will employ again on fine toothed saws, and when I was done the soot just wiped right off.  I also think the soot may have provided a bit of lubrication for the filing but I am not sure.  I will probably do it on the next saw I get that needs to be sharped, even with bigger teeth, but for fine teeth it worked great.

Stephen

August 18, 2008

Understanding Traditional Craftsmen

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,The Trade,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:54 am

 

It may not be possible to fully understand the Craftsmen of the past but I think we can get some insight into their lives and works by looking at them in the context of their relationship to the social and economic conditions at the time.  From our prospective of today’s work ethic, lifestyles and modern thinking, we have certain connotations we put upon the past.  We may think that it was a hard and primitive time, with few resources and constant depredations.  We wonder how they could saw a board without a power saw (well I don’t think that, but it is a common view) or get along without refrigeration, but somehow they managed and here we are today. 

 

We have known an 8 hour work day for a long time now, but in the past, the work day was daylight hours and 12 hour work days were not uncommon.  Nor was a 6 day work week, almost everyone took Sunday off.  When today we look at the historic record and see the production that these people produced, we are amazed at how fast or how much they accomplished.  But remember this is all they did!  This was their job and their livelihood, if they didn’t produce they didn’t eat.  And when you do this stuff day in and day out for years, you get good at it, and if you are good at it, they you are fast at it as well. 

 

They didn’t have the diversions we have today, although they did have lives, families, religious, social and community responsibilities.  They worked at their occupations, many supplemented their income with farming and other activities, and provided for families.  Up early, chores around the farmstead, then off to the shop just as day breaks.  Then a full day at the shop, utilizing the daylight to avoid burning expensive candles, lamp oil or the more inexpensive and common grease lamps.  Coffin orders were attended to immediately and the craftsman would burn oil to get that job done, especially in the summer months. 

 

Lets take a Chair Maker for instance.  Now a ladder back chair can have 12 rungs, 4 legs and two or three slats.  Now that is 24 socket holes for the rungs (if my math is correct) and several mortises for the slats, that is a lot of drilling.  A chair maker could make a lot of chairs in a year and that is a lot of drilling, so I imagine they got real good and real fast at it, doing it all the time. 

 

Take a Cabinet-maker building a bureau (chest of drawers) with say 4 drawers.  Now if the carcase is dovetailed completely across the bottom with cleats dovetailed on the top and 4 drawers half blind dovetails on the fronts and through on the back can have over 100 dovetails.  After a couple dozen bureaus, I would imagine the work went quickly, especially if you gang saw, which is what they did.  I have examined old pieces and drawer dovetails almost always match, indicating gang sawing the sides. 

 

I am sure this applies to other woodworking trades as well as any other trade during the nineteenth century and earlier.  By making these pieces over and over again, they got good and they got fast.  I am not on the same level as these early craftsman, but I have been doing this for 36 years, so I am much faster than I was when I started.  With age there is some slowing down but with experience, work is accomplished more efficiently and effectively than when I was younger with less experience.  Increase in experience also reduces fears that generally accompany processes like dovetails or chair making. 

 

The dovetail was the penultimate joint, I thought as an apprentice and was intimidated by the process.  I layed everything out, carefully marked the waste sides and with great in trepidation started.  Now I mark the thickness, put the boards in a vise and start sawing.  Making a chair is also an intimidating challenge to woodworkers and my first chair took a week to make, the last ladder-back took a day and a half. 

 

Craftsmen of the past didn’t have the distractions that we have today, they could concentrate on what they were doing, making and selling their wares.  They did tend to their social and community duties and generally went to church on Sundays.  Craftsmen in many trades such as a Cabinet Maker or Blacksmith were often leaders in their communities, as they were more affluent, probably a little better educated and were well respected, what happened?  

 

I think people in the past had different values and prized their possessions more than we do today.  This is generated, I believe, by our disposable mentality, which is a modern thing.  We buy crap, use it up, throw it away and buy more crap.  Today people are astounded by how much I ask for a fancy side chair as they could buy 4 chairs and a table for less, they don’t appear to see the difference between something that is handmade and something that isn’t.  They don’t expect to buy anything that will last as everything else they buy doesn’t.  I am not sure how craftsmen of the past felt about their work, but judging from the quality of what has survived they did take pride and produced some fine stuff that if properly cared for will last hundreds of years.

 

Stephen

 

 

 

August 17, 2008

Reproducing Antique Furniture

Filed under: Furniture,Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:57 pm

Reproducing Antique Furniture are words that seem to get everyone worked up.  Is it a ‘reproduction’?  Is it a ‘copy’?  Is it a ‘replica’?   Is it a ‘duplicate’?  Is it a ‘facsimile’?  Yes I got out my Thesaurus to get more words into the fray. 

 

I am not sure there is any convention here so I think I will take a crack at this one.  A reproduction is a version of the original that has been made using the same tools, traditional techniques and similar materials to the original.  This would be based on the time period of the piece that is being reproduced.  Arts and Crafts probably didn’t use a pole lathe.  And while it may be difficult to get old growth wood, a species match is critical.  And while all old techniques may not be known (yet) using traditional methods is also important in order to call it a ‘reproduction’.   I think anything else isn’t. 

 

A copy or facsimile would be a faithful version in all outward appearances but with concessions to modern techniques. 

 

 

 

I think replica is related to the above characterizations as these pieces would be versions that replicate the look of the original with no indication as to how it was made.

 

 I think the same applies for ‘duplicate‘, although this word can be taken literally and technically and would therefore in an esoteric sense not possible. 

 

Now ‘our version’ can mean anything, and there is nothing wrong with that. 

 

But we need a convention to describe making furniture or other objects as they were made originally; tools, materials and techniques.  This is a reproduction and everything else isn’t. 

 

I have said this before and I will probably say it again and there is always room to discuss the use of the words and their meanings.  I just don’t know how far to push this issue nor where to set the bar.  But if an early 19th century Butler’s Desk is made with power tools unavailable in the early nineteenth century then it is a copy or duplicate or facsimile or replica, but it is not a reproduction.

 

Can you only made a reproduction 18th century piece if your body is nourished by traditional 18th century foods?  (I would like to go there, but I won’t).  Can you only make a 19th century piece if the shop is period correct?  If you are wearing the clothing of the period?  Once again I have gone too far or have I?  Should there be a further distinction of reproductions done where everything is correct?  Is that possible?  Is it worthwhile?  Or is this an academic pursuit I should not bother others with? 

 

That aside, I think that in order to give the proper credit to actual reproductions as opposed to things called ‘reproductions’ there needs to be a distinction.  If someone uses the same tools, materials and techniques of the particular period and makes a ‘reproduction’, then that needs to be accredited and acknowledged.  And they shouldn’t be expected to compete against those that use modern tools, etc to make what they call ‘reproductions’.  Let the modern folks call it something else but leave ‘reproduction’ to mean what it should mean. 

 

Stephen

 

August 11, 2008

The Problem with Reproduction Furniture of the 19th Century and Earlier

Filed under: Furniture,Historical Material,Of Interest,The Trade,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 10:16 pm

The Problem as I see it, with Reproduction Furniture of the 19th Century or even earlier stuff is that everything being reproduced is from museum and they tend to collect high end pieces owned by terribly wealthy people.  It is the best, finest and fanciest furniture ever made and reflects so little of the vast majority of furniture that was used by almost everybody else.

 

 

Museum specimens are wonderful study examples but I have a feeling those pieces reflect less than 1% of the furniture made and actually used.  Shaker furniture seems to be the exception, although I am not a big fan of their furniture.  While there are some fine examples there are also some really ugly Shaker furniture.  I always think of this one chest with a drawer underneath, it looked like a cabinet giving birth to another cabinet, not very sightly.

 

 

And that high end furniture reflects the high end life that the few could enjoy.  For the rest of us there is usable, serviceable and practical furniture that was used and used up.  Not that there isn’t some fine examples of common furniture, I have seen hundreds and hundreds including many well done, finely constructed and thought out pieces built in the latest style and fashion, made for the average customer of the period.

 

 

The problem as I see it is that the woodworker wants to make the very best and many do and get (or at least ask) a high price for their products, again putting them in the context of the past where only the wealthy can afford the best.  A Chippendale High Boy, a Ball and Claw Chair with cabriole legs are wonderful pieces of furniture but I am fairly sure most people can’t afford them.  That doesn’t mean you can make them for yourself, but I think this type of furniture reproduction sets the bar a little too high for most woodworkers.

 

 

And while I could make either of the above, I never will, I have no desire to own one and less desire to make them.  I prefer to make furniture that is indicative of what was made and actually used in everyday life of the common person.  I think I can gain more insight into the past by studying this type of furniture rather than the high end stuff that causes everyone to drool.

 

 

 We also have a twentieth century work ethic that is totally unlike that of a century or two ago.  We work an eight hour day, in the past they worked as long as there was daylight and burned oil on certain occasions like coffin building which had to be attended to immediately.  We now know the difference, back then it was just what was done.  You worked when you could see and didn’t when you couldn’t.

 

 

To our ancestors it was both the process and the product, the process had to be done and the product could be sold or traded for what was needed.  There were standards and fair market value for commodities in the nineteenth century and earlier.  You could buy pork for $0.14 a pound, nails were $0.59 a pound or a Windsor side chair for $4.00 or a Bureau (chest of drawers) was $26.00.  In the late 1850′s in the West the U.S. Army paid $3.00 a day for skilled laborers, above the wages available in settlements of around $2.00 a day.

 

 

I make reproduction nineteenth century furniture, using the same tools, similar materials and traditional techniques of the originating craftsmen, whose furniture I am copying.  I don’t add anything that they didn’t have into the mix, but one thing I can not quite get is the mine set of cabinetmakers of 150 years ago.  If I step on a nail, I will get a shot, I drink clean water and have antiseptics, things not available to our ancestors.

 

 

I work an eight hour day, albeit mostly in the nineteenth century, I know back in my mind I will go home to central heat and air conditioning, a big flat screen and laptop, cold clean beverages and unprecedented medical care.  I can get close to the mind set but there is still that reassurance that if a wound goes septic, I can do something about it and survive.

 

 

They also worked smartly or didn’t stay in business.  They produced quality product or didn’t have any customers.  Certainly crap was produced, it was of bad construction, got used up and thrown away, well actually burned.  Common furniture was produced in great number and on occasion the shop would produce a fancy piece for a well to do customer, but by and large most of the production was for furniture to be used.

 

 

Now our ancestors were not hayseeds that just fell off the cabbage wagon, they were usually well read and liked the latest fashion and style popular in the East or in Europe.  Trends are reflected in the styles of furniture that was available in the time.  Some high style influences can be seen in common everyday furniture as people like nice stuff, they always have and they always will.  But they also wanted good serviceable and inexpensive furniture, stuff they could afford and would actually use.

 

 

 

Can we accurately reproduce the furniture from the past, well we can get fairly close, but there will be something lacking.  It may not be noticeable, it may be difficult to discern and maybe no one can tell the difference.  But there is, we are making this stuff, even if everything else is exactly right, we just can’t know the exact context in which this stuff was made.  And maybe we don’t need to know that, but the more we can know of the framework and matrix in which this stuff was produced, the more history that we are familiar with, the more information we have will make us better at accurately reproducing furniture from the past. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier furniture from the eighteenth century and before presents a whole different problem.  If you are going to make reproduction furniture then you need to use all of the tools, materials and techniques of the period.  This means that almost all of the work has to be prepared by hand in order to call it Reproduction Furniture. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the nineteenth century it is a different story.  Much of the material was provided by a saw and or planing mill, so the boards would come sawn and in some instances planed.  The Wadsworth planer, the Blanchard lathe, table saws, band saws, sash saws, grinders, powered by human, water, animal or even steam.  Many shops in the nineteenth century had steam engines powering their equipment.  I get a lot of my lumber from an old sawmill that was originally powered by steam but later converted.  The saw is the same the power source is different. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If we make reproduction furniture it needs to be done using the same methods as the originating craftsmen in terms of materials, techniques and tools in order to call it reproduction furniture, if we don’t, it isn’t.  Is the power source the issue, I don’t know, but I am looking for a steam engine to power my turning lathe, if the freight wasn’t so high having it shipped by ox cart from St. Louis.

 

 

Stephen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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