What If ...


There are many commonalities between furniture making and writing. Start with an idea, sketch it out / outline it, decide on a structure / style for it, revise / refine the sketch /outline and begin building / writing it, modifying/adapting as you go.
Thinking about the process, I began to think about one component of what makes a good furniture maker / writer - having a good “vocabulary”. In writing it’s words - using just the write word(s) in key sentences. In furniture making part of the “vocabulary” is joinery - using just the right joint in a particular situation. A wrong choice of words or a wrong choice of joinery can make the difference between mere communication/ functionality and something that touches the reader / maker/ owner, something that sings.
I’ve gone through DiCristofora’s book on joinery, amazed at the number of ways two (or more) pieces of wood can be put together. His book, while loaded with great illustrations of some of the possibilities, really just scratches the surface. The joinery of Japanese, and especially Chinese, furniture is difficult to convey with two dimensional representations. Even with an actual three dimensional example to take apart, put back together and study, I’d be hard pressed to figure out how some of these joints were made.
For most hobbyists / amateurs, “complicated” joinery is pretty intimidating and thus often avoided, even though what appears complicated and difficult in fact really isn’t that hard. Take for example, handcut dovetails. Making them isn’t really all that difficult, though making them really well comes with practice. And wouldn’t it be easier, if, in addition to instructions, with good illustrations, you had an actual sample joint to play with and study? And some examples of applications for this joint would be nice too.
What if there was a “dictionary”/”thesaurus” of joinery? Imagine having 3-D models of a joint - perhaps in clear colored plastic - say one part blue and one yellow, so the common areas/interfaces would obvious - green? And what if, in addition to the two parts, there were models of each step in the joints creation - with accompanying text and 2-D illustrations of the steps and tools used in making each step along the way to the final joint - with cautionary notes as well?
Think of it - The Joint of The Month Club. Or, if you don’t like surprises - a Joint Catalogue . Pick the ones you’re interested, in, place your order, then wait anxiously for the UPS truck.
How would this affect your woodworking experience, your design possibilities, how your choice of projects would change?
Just something I thought up while trying to make a triple mitered corner, with integral mortise and tenons, from non-square rectangular components - just to make it more difficult.
A pipe dream or an idea for some entrepreneur out there?
charlie b
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To some degree it's a cool idea, but I think "joint of the month club" would sell better to upscale rastafarians
I think the analogy would work better to consider joints to the conjunctions of woodworking. Perhaps finishes would be adjectives and application methods (wipe-on, brush, spray french polish) the adverbs.
Wood species, of course, would be the nouns.
My point is that while I agree that good design is helped tremendously by a prolific "vocabulary", joinery is just one aspect of a design. A wide range if designs could be created with a limitted repitoire of joints when coupled with variable woods, profiles, proportions etc.
My 2 cents,
Steve

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charlie b wrote:

Didn't the Supreme Court just knock this down??? :)
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I like the analogy of "words to joinery". Yes, the write word(s) do make a difference in interactions between us all. Imagine having an interpreter, or a "maple-to-mesquite dictionary" to relate to people or wood. And joinery is just that, relating wood (or whatever) to whatever. But Steve's right about design being more than just joinery. The woodworker's design skills will include good joinery, but something about "form follows function", or the reverse might get in the way sometimes. Maybe even when you're trimming an integrally-tenonned triple mitre. I wonder what the start-up costs would be for a 3-D joint model-making business? Tom
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Hi,
I saaw an ad for an interesting type of turning. It is based on the optical illusion in which one sees either two people facing each other or a vase, depending on where one preceives there to be open air. You send this company your profile and they turn the life size vase that mirrors your profile.
Thanks Roger Haar
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