There’s a lot of valuable information you can learn about the traditional woodworker’s craft – and I’m speaking to those of you who steal quick peeks at your host’s antique furniture and go cross-eyed after countless hours pouring over old furniture plans. Like me, you may have also found yourself thinking, “what would my friend Roubo do” or “what’s Joe Moxon’s opinion about that?” while contemplating which tool, which joint, or which “whatever” to use on one of your own projects. Well, frankly, I found some new, younger friends that offer the same wisdom but with explanations (not to mention illustrations) that actually make sense!
Before I go further, you should know that I do believe Roubo and Moxon have given us valuable insight into some of the earlier tools and methods of traditional woodworking and I greatly respect their work. I also believe that if we are to act as traditional woodworking historians, we owe the craft its due diligence in terms of following its progression to where it historically stops – in the early 1900’s. With the exception of large furniture manufacturers, there were still plenty of small shops still making a living with hand tools in the first decade of the 20th century – as well as trade schools teaching how to use them.
I’ve compiled a short list of some of the texts I’ve found helpful in getting around the workbench. All of these titles can be downloaded for FREE in multiple formats from www.archive.org and other public digital archives.
1. Forty Lessons in Carpentry Workshop Practice, pub. 1896. Charles F Mitchell and George A. Mitchell
2. Modern Cabinetwork: Furniture and Fitments, 3rd Ed. pub. 1922. Percy A. Wells
3. Jobbing Work for the Carpenter, pub. 1914. E.H. Crussell
4. Early English Furniture and Woodwork, Vol. I&II. pub. 1922. H. Cescinsky and E.R. Gribble
That’s a pretty good start to a wide range of traditional woodworking techniques around the turn of the 20th century. Keep learning!