Archive

Danish Campaign Chest (The Afterword)

assembled_IMG_5593

When I build a piece for a customer I show them the drawing and build it (mostly) to the print. But when I build a spec piece, such as this modern campaign chest, the customer is my eyeballs. And so this is the part about design that doesn’t get talked about much: If something bugs you about a piece you’ve made, fix it or destroy it. I am happy to […]

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Green Wood and Roubo Workbenches, Part 2

tops_IMG_5569

Seasoned, well-dried wood is good, but not for all things. For the last two years I’ve been editing a book called “Woodworking in Estonia,” which is about the pre-industrial woodworking cultural heritage of a small Northern European nation. The book is not a review of the historical literature sprinkled with speculation about how people worked. Instead, the author spent his entire life interviewing people who still worked in traditional ways, […]

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A Roubo Workbench from Green Wood

roubo-drying-wood

Here is a question that has been going through my mind for more than a decade: When an 18th-century French woodworker started building a workbench, what was the moisture content of the wood? Had it been seasoned for many years? Freshly cut? Something between? Lots of modern people have speculated about the answer, but I have yet to find an historical source that answers the question to my satisfaction. A.J. […]

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A Roubo Workbench from Green Wood

roubo-drying-wood

Here is a question that has been going through my mind for more than a decade: When an 18th-century French woodworker started building a workbench, what was the moisture content of the wood? Had it been seasoned for many years? Freshly cut? Something between? Lots of modern people have speculated about the answer, but I have yet to find an historical source that answers the question to my satisfaction. A.J. […]

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Yes, You Need a Jointer and a Jack

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I suspect this will ruffle a few feathers, but so be it. I’ve been asked a lot lately if one really needs a jack and a jointer plane. Several well-respected woodworkers and writers now teach that you can prepare all your stock for finishing with only one bench plane, a smoothing plane, if you use machine-prepared stock. I suppose that’s true in the same way that I could write all […]

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Final Design Brief No. 6: The Danish Campaign Chest

curly_oak_chest_635_IMG_5509

I don’t think much about the joinery for a piece until I have the form and details all settled. I do this because I want the joinery and the style of the piece to match. What do I mean by this? We have an excellent cabinetmaker in our area who builds gorgeous Shaker reproductions. But when you open the drawers, they are running on Blum metal slides. Open the doors […]

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Design Brief No. 5: The Danish Campaign Chest

angled-legs

When you set out to design a piece of furniture, don’t be surprised if you end up designing four or five pieces in the same vein. With this campaign chest, I ended up with three separate designs: A Baltic birch plywood version with round stainless steel pulls and a base that uses 4” casters. A more Japanese/Chinese version with recessed round pulls (shown in the previous entry) and sled feet […]

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Design Brief No. 4: The Danish Campaign Chest

pull2

Unlike other furniture designers, I have a handicap. When I design something I am burdened by 15 years of designing furniture for a magazine audience. During those years, I sought to simplify construction and ornament on every piece so that we could fit it into a six- to eight-page article in the magazine. That meant doing away with details that no one saw, designing joints that required the fewest number […]

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