Full Chisel Blog

December 28, 2008

The Art of Joinery by Joseph Moxon {1703}

Filed under: Historical Material,Moxon,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 2:50 pm

I received a copy of The Art of Joinery by Joseph Moxon with commentary by Christopher Schwarz from Lost Art Press 2008, for Christmas and spent the day reading.  And I then made some comments over on WoodCentral and received some responses.

I had just started reading Moby Dick by Herman Melville and was awash in the language of the time and when I started the slim volume on Woodworking, I guess I was not in the right frame of mind.  Mr. Schwarz did mention in the introduction that the work had been altered, no long s (f) in the text, changing the run on sentences, etc., so I should have been ready.

I was also distracted to the modern references and photographs, I think that while it added a great deal of information it also took away from the early feel of the book that I was expecting.  His analysis will undoubtedly be of great help to those starting out in woodworking or expanding their interests into working wood with hand tools.

I am just happy to finally have an almost complete copy of the text and the plates were great.  I think there is still a lot of analysis that can happen to this work.  The section on plow planes is confusing at best and this is Mr. Moxon’s doing.

Sounds like my original response to Lee Valley’s Spoon Bits, which I first berated then bought a set and made a public apology.  I have read the book a second time and this time without reading the analysis and ignoring the [] but read the ().  I had to imagine the long s’s but if was a great read and a wonderful insight into early English woodworking.  So, thank you Mr. Schwarz and I wholeheartedly recommend this book as a great reference and a good addition to any library.



  1. Stephen,

    I trust you had a Happy Christmas. This is one book I really want to get. On the one hand, I fear I might miss a bit of the historical feel with this edition, but, for sure, I won’t miss the long s. I am fairly used to reading the King James Bible (1769)

    I didn’t realize that there any references or pictures were updated.

    Comment by Luke Townsley — December 28, 2008 @ 3:31 pm

  2. Oops, Accidentally hit send without finishing…

    I am quite used to reading the KJV as well as some older commentaries from the 19th and early 20th century, but that isn’t nearly the same as a work that is as old as the original Moxon.

    Anyway, I am really glad to see so much interest in this book.

    Comment by Luke Townsley — December 28, 2008 @ 3:36 pm

  3. Luke,

    Yes indeed the Holidays are Happy and Merry. I hope you are enjoying them as well.

    It is a decent book in that it does still give insights into the shop practices in earlier times. I think it can offer up much to allow extrapolation and speculation on techniques of the past.

    One particular tool, to which I have given much thought is the workbench and Moxon’s description. I keep re-reading his words and looking at the engraving which are both curious. The bench screw (singular) and double screw is further obfuscated by the engraving. His description of the plow plane is also a bit confusing.

    The fact that engravings sometimes are reversed when printed also contributes to the problems of early texts with illustrations.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — December 30, 2008 @ 3:11 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress