The Nuts of “Ingenious Mechanicks”

Okay dammit. Now I have to make some of these…

Lost Art Press

While researching “Ingenious Mechanicks” Chris Schwarz and I found many workbenches with face vises and some of them actually had vise nuts.

In the montage above there are selections from paintings from Spain, Italy and what is now present-day Ecuador. As you can see, they range from the basic steering wheel to the curvy hurricane. The nut on the lower left is the shape Chris chose for his Holy Roman/Löffelholz workbench (and he provides the pattern in the book).

My particular favorite is a form that may have originated in Spain and made its way to Spain’s New World colonies: the double-bunny ear. The double-bunny ear provides an easy grip for tighting or loosening the vise.

The top right image is from a 17th-century Spainish painting. The next two vice nuts on the right are late 19th-to-early 20th century from Guatemala and Mexico. The vise nut on the left is of…

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The Making of a Cabinetmaker – Part I

“I believe I was fitted by nature to become a woodworker, and had my father been a wagonmaker or millwright, a carpenter or cooper, I would have been taught by my father the trade that he knew. He saw that I would whittle something, for when I was even smaller and lived in the woods I would ask for his knife whenever he came home. He always demurred, saying, “You will cut your fingers,” for a woodworker’s knife is always sharp.

I would tease until he would hand it out with the remark, “Now you will cut yourself.” I invariably did, and it was generally the fore finger of my left hand. That finger is just covered with small scars of every possible shape. I was bound to whittle something. Father knew it, so he calculated to give me a trade where I could whittle away and bring in a little money thereby.”
Chris Weeks
Wood Craft – December 1905

Lost Art Press

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I took kindly to woodworking. In fact, I was brought up in the woods until I was seven years of age. During these first seven years of my life I saw my father only occasionally, for he was a cabinetmaker by trade and worked in a smart little town about sixty miles distant from our forest farm and came home after intervals of about six weeks to remain with us but a day or two. When I was about seven years old my mother died and the remainder of the family father took with him to the town where he worked.

I went to school, but had a chance to run in and out of the shop as I pleased, and just about as the child learns to speak his mother’s language by sights and sounds long before it is sent to school, so I learned a great deal about…

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On Being Self-taught

I’ve heard people say they have to put a piece of wood aside until the spirit hits them. That’s procrastination. Pick it up and work it – you’ll feel the spirit. No, I think it’s an advantage being self-taught.

— Sam Maloof, December 1980, Fine Woodworking

Lost Art Press

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People just like what I do and buy it. As for schooling, my clients are my teachers. They’re the ones who bring me the design problems. Schools get too easily divorced from the real world. In many places students graduate and become teachers without ever making a living from their work. They grow stale. There’s a preciousness I see in a lot of student work that comes from having too many hours to put into it. Perfection is fine, and nothing has left my shop that I’m not proud of, but you have to produce if you are going to make a living. I’ve heard people say they have to put a piece of wood aside until the spirit hits them. That’s procrastination. Pick it up and work it – you’ll feel the spirit. No, I think it’s an advantage being self-taught.

— Sam Maloof, December 1980, Fine Woodworking

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Campaign Desk

CampaignDesk

Here’s an interesting piece of “gone native” campaign furniture.  There was much bad about empire building (and still is) but the bringing together of foreign cultures often created new and interesting art and craft styles.

While on the topic, if campaign furniture is of an interest, or if you want to even know what it is, head over to Lost Arts Press and check out Chris Schwartz’s new book on the topic.

Here are just a few designs from the genre known as Campaign Furniture taken from Schwartz’s webpage.  Click the link below to go right to his book store.

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The Status of the Apprentice

Lost Art Press

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Let the boy learn a trade. Watch him at his work and at his play; study his likes and dislikes; place him in a position where he can exercise his talent— if he has any—or his creative genius. Place him where he can learn a trade for which he is best adapted, mentally and physically, and if in after years, he chooses to follow any other line of endeavor, business, law, polities, literature, the stage, the lecture platform, or whatever he considers himself best adapted for, he may do so.

Then should his efforts prove a failure he has always a trade to fall back upon which will at least give him a chance to earn more than the pay of a day laborer. This argument was much in vogue years ago, and we sometimes hear it today, but the obstacles placed in the way make it impossible of achievement…

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