I'll bet you don't use pocket screws either ;)
I don't have a problem using anything that makes the job easier or faster.
IMO, non-visible accessories don't detract from the beauty of fine
furniture. I admire the guys that do hand cut dovetails. Maybe that is
because I can't do them and therefore appreciate the skills of those that
can. I've made a few pieces and have been proud of the fact that I did them
with no metal fasteners. Where I'd have a dowel exposed, it could have just
as easily been done with a screw that was countersunk and plugged, but I
chose otherwise. Better? Probably not, just more fun to do.
What is important is that you're enjoying the journey, not just the
destination. Keeping traditions alive is a wonderful thing.
I wonder what some of the old masters would do if faced with a modern shop.
Sure I do. In fact, I'm about to put some into a footstool I'm making for
the little ones so they can stop fighting over the one they have. Then they
can go on to fighting about something else.
My deal is that I generally find them unnecessary for the work I've done up
to now. Now, if I was trying to churn out production, that would probably
be a different story and some sacrafice might have to be made for speed.
Exactly what they thought was best. Like putting hand-sawn precious wood
veneer over a cheap substrate.
As biscuits are not structurally important in a glue-up, they wouldn't take
the time to put them in.
wrote in message
I handcut all the dovetails for the drawers of a desk. Not half bad if
I do say so myself. I agree with those who assert that that you can't
see (and isn't a shortcut that will shorten the live/durability of the
piece) has a place in the modern construction of "fine furniture"
Edwin Pawlowski wrote:
Ten to one says most of them would break out in a big old grin, and
latch onto anything and everything that works well and makes the job
easier. Because something is "tradtional" does not always mean that
it is better. Quality is Quality, regardless of the method used to
produce it, and I just can't believe that a well-jointed, solidly
built piece of furniture with a fine finish and attention to detail
made with some manufactured materials and power tools could be
considered somehow inferior to an equivilent piece of work crafted in
a more tradtional fashion. After all, I doubt those old masters
turned up their noses at chisels because back in the mists of time,
people had to use broken bits of rock to make things.
Sure, there's plenty of fun to be had sticking to nostalgic ways of
doing things, but there's nothing wrong with using what you've got!
OTOH if your definition of 'fine furniture' includes pieces in the early
medieval style, you're going to use _lots_ of metal fasteners. (I'm less
enamored of their habit of nailing things together.)
Thinking about it a little more, I believe that for me the matter comes down to
how I feel about the piece I'm making. If a technique doesn't 'feel' right for
the piece, I'd prefer not to use it. Thus, I prefer loose tenons to biscuits and
handcut dovetails to routed ones.
Of course I can afford this attitude because I am strictly a hobbyist when it
comes to furniture. For me the most valuable product of that sort of woodworking
is the time spent working wood. We have so little room in our house that any
major pieces I make have to be given away.
You mean like this ?
I'd still regard that style as late medieval though. That chest itself
is more like typical 18th century work in England, although it's based
on a 13th century Baltic example.
Most chests, and almost everything early medieval, were devoid of
ironwork. No strapwork, and hinges were often just a nailed leather
strip, or a couple of snipe bill hinges (interlocked hairpins).
I took a look around the Red Lodge again last week.
Lots of chests, almost no metal in any of them. A few had the bases
nailed on, but in at least one of those cases that was later
repairwork after a grooved side had split out.
The idea of the heavily strapped chest doesn't really show up until
the Armada chests (there's a nice example in Abergavenny castle
museum). These were the paychests of the Spanish Armada and had hugely
complex locks that filled the entire lid, with strapping all around.
16th C though.
The other problem is finding some iron to work. For those helms it's
easy enough to cheat with steel, but strapwork doesn't really look
right unless you used iron.
I was also working on a chest for LARP-camping last week. An old
1900-ish joiner's chest that I was given, with a bunch of repair work
to it, some forged steel drop handles at each end and an upholstered
top as a bench seat. Pictures when I've done the upholstery.
We have a number of examples of this sort of chest with the elaborate ironwork
from pre-14th century England. (See also Daniel Diehl's 'Constructing Medieval
Furniture' for additional examples of ironwork on furniture, including a chest
Well, I don't know about 'most chests', but certainly not all of them by a long
shot, judging by the examples remaining in cathedrals, colleges, etc. You'll
also note that most of the strapwork, hinges, etc. was held on with nails.
Undoubtedly there were a lot of chests and other pieces made without ironwork
of any sort.
Well, no. In England at least the heavily strapped chest is a design that goes
back before 1000 AD
Nice work! However you can make a barrel helm of that pattern without access to
a blacksmith shop. The metalwork is pretty straightforward and mostly bending,
drilling and some punching. (The punching is better done hot, but it doesn't
have to be.) We made a several of them 30 or so years ago with not much more
than hammers and an old stump. (The first one we cut out with cold chisels. The
next one we used a saber saw with metal cutting blades. I really envy you with
the plasma cutter.)
Unless you're willing to settle for really simple designs for the strapwork,
you need the ability to work the metal hot, especially for the splitting and
bending. In other words, a blacksmith's shop.
That is a problem indeed. Around here there's just about none to be had because
this area wasn't settled until after 1850. (Well, there was one maniac I knew
who used to get iron by pulling the spikes out of the supporting timbers in old
mines. That takes more -- ah, 'dedication' than I've got.)
Looking forward to seeing it.
BTW: I always understood that an 'ark' was simply a chest with a peaked top,
like a roof. Is there something more to the definition than that?
There are plenty of examples of _elaborate_ ironwork, just not many of
simple ironwork. Strapping like the example you showed is like
studded iron nails in the door of your castle - it's not for use, it's
for decoration. Conspicuous consumption to show that you were rich
enough to spend money on expensive ironwork.
Not a very good reference, IMHO. It's OK as a constructional guide to
one or two pieces, but it does nothing to put them in a greater
I'd also never buy any book that encourages the making of yet another
bloody Glastonbury chair ! I know chairs weren't common in period,
but there was more than one style.
There's also a certain skewing as to which examples survived.
There are strapped chests back into the Norse period, but I've not
seen anything like an Armada chest until then. They're pretty much
solid iron - not just strapping to hold it together, but an interlaced
close-spaced strapping that would prevent you smashing it with an axe.
The entire lid is also filled with multiple locks.
Even though I worked these cold, it's a blacksmith's shop where I did
No punching for these - the breaths were plasma-cut from a stencil.
I'm too lazy to punch holes !
Not as far as I know. It's a top that's not flat, but has protruding
end plates rather than being coopered.
I'd love to have the skill and knowledge to make things like dovetail
and finger joints, but IMHO, biscuits make the use of fancy joints
more of a trim or appearance thing than a necessary skill to assemble
I love looking at other folks galleries and seeing the contrasting
color joints and inlays, but I doubt that I'll ever develop the skill
or patience required for those... I guess they're what I consider
"fine" woodworking, a level I'll probably never reach..YMMV
On 22 Sep 2004 10:47:48 -0700, email@example.com (tfk) wrote:
I made a little cedar tabletop last week, and glued 3 6" planks at
one time by using dowels to keep them aligned. No doubt this would
work for any number of planks, as long as your joints are square and
you don't clamp the piece too hard.
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