Full Chisel Blog

February 29, 2008

Rediscovering the Past

Filed under: Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:11 am

In the Shop

Much of the past is still in existence in the form of historic objects including furniture, original source materials such as journals, newspapers and if you are lucky enough photographic evidence.

We can look at these objects and examine how they were made and in most cases determine the types of tools used to make them.  We can read original materials and get an idea of what was available during the historic past and glean information that can help us put together a more complete picture of what was going on.

Then there are times when we are confronted with something that can not be easily explained given what we know at the time.  It is important to remain as objective as possible when doing the analysis and this is best done by not trying to think up a modern solution.  Instead a traditional mind set is necessary in order to solve a traditional problem.

This might be in search of the recipe used by luthiers in Cremona, Mr. Martin’s mysterious varnish or proper Japanning.  It might be figuring out how stopped rebates are made without using a plane.  Or how the mystery dovetail mallet was constructed, oh wait I already figured that one out.  But there are many other mysteries and tricks of the trade that still need to be rediscovered.



  1. The older I get, the more there seems to be matter to glean from the past…

    Comment by Alan — February 29, 2008 @ 2:40 pm

  2. Hi Stephen,

    Cool stuff — like the photos too.

    As Alan commented, I like to glean things from the past — but if I could glean them from the future, I would do that too.

    Hope you found the Strad plane info useful.


    Comment by Ken — March 1, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

  3. Thanks Ken,

    That Banjo Resonator looks like it was influenced by a wagon wheel with too many spokes, perhaps a Medicine wheel, water wheel, wind mill, compass rose, spinning wheel? Thanks for the information and have you built the Cruzzat Fiddle yet?

    When you come down for a visit, I will give you my compleat and full course on French Polishing, if you have an extra 15 minutes. If you want to learn English Polishing that takes a minute longer.


    Comment by admin — March 1, 2008 @ 6:52 pm

  4. Hi Stephen,

    Yes — that 6-string banjo/zither had an amazing amount of labor to it. So that anyone else reading this might know what we’re talking about – I have a few instrument photos posted at my Flickr.com page, user name “Cornbread, beans, & coffee”


    I’ll take you up on the compleat & full course on FP in 15 minutes. I have been known to be quite dense, so having a beer or two on hand (for you) might be a good idea.

    No Cruzatte fiddle yet, though I am closer. Lack of focus, trying to keep the repairs at bay, the sun was in my eyes — choose your excuse.


    Comment by Ken — March 2, 2008 @ 10:27 am

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