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.
furniture making part of the “vocabulary” is joinery - using just the
right joint in a particular situation. A wrong choice of words or a
choice of joinery can make the difference between mere communication/
functionality and something that touches the reader / maker/
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
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
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
A pipe dream or an idea for some entrepreneur out there?