Category Archives: Techniques

In Favour of a Bigger Hammer

My recent production of Windsor chairs prompted a reader – himself, a Windsor chair-maker – to contact me concerning the moisture content of various chair parts. We exchanged several emails, the content of which I have précised and edited together … Continue reading

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On the Dismantling and Reassembly of Glued Joints

Having emailed a reply to a plea from a desperate reader at the weekend, I thought I might as well publish it here for the potential benefit of others. Animal glue is mildly hydrophilic which alone, enables it to maintain … Continue reading

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Cross-Grained Mouldings

Mouldings on oak-framed buildings – and thence joyner-made oak furniture – followed the timber’s grain and were comparatively simple to produce. Then circa 1685, a new breed of specialised furniture maker appeared. Cabinetmakers developed more sophisticated techniques for making and … Continue reading

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Drawer and Drawer Aperture Decoration

Since man first made tools, utensils and weapons from wood, he has burnt, carved and scraped decoration into it. Even in their simplest form, the rails and stiles of early joyner-made coffers usually exhibit chamfered edges (fig. 1), though more … Continue reading

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A Dovetailing Confession

A recent visitor was examining some dovetails I had made in the back of a small mahogany drawer and (knowing I don’t possess a great variety of saws) asked which saw I had employed to make the dovetails. I replied … Continue reading

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Where are the Pins?

Fig. 1. Do you see a vase or two faces? I see both the vase (positive) and the faces (negative space) simultaneously. Whilst talking about dovetails, there has been some natter about ‘pins’. I’ve been cutting dovetails for many, many … Continue reading

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Distressing News…

…or, advice on mimicking wear and tear on furniture. The most frequent enquiry I receive from readers is on the topic of replicating old patina on new furniture. Patina on antique furniture is a complex layer on and near the … Continue reading

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L for Leather

Leather has been employed for writing surfaces on furniture since the seventeenth-century to provide a tactile surface on which to write. It’s not only kinder on both paper and nib pens than a hard polished wood surface, but is also … Continue reading

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Polishing…

Is to give brightness to any subſtance. The method of polishing amongst cabinet-makers is various, as required in different pieces of work. Sometimes they polish with bees wax and a cork for inside work, where it would be improper to … Continue reading

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Seventeenth-Century Instruction on Varnishing

I say seventeenth-century; the following excerpt from William Salmon’s Polygraphice was published in 1701, but was plagiarised from Stalker & Parker’s earlier work, A Treatise on Japanning and Varnishing, published in 1668 (varnishing, varnish-making and finishing in general have long … Continue reading

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