Saturday, March 17, 2012
17th Century Techniques in Today's World
Recently I mentioned a new book about 17th Century New England woodworking techniques and received some interesting email about it. I suppose no good book is without some banter, but one comment was posted suggesting that due to the difficulty of obtaining the type of oak required by the book, as well as the number of hours required to work it before it gets too dry, that these projects are not suitable for a typical modern woodworker with limited time. I have not attempted the projects listed, but I did try to point out that something I thought was worthwhile in this book was that it also included a number of tips and techniques which could easily be adapted to any number of modern projects. For example, it is shown how rather simply one can create paint from whole ingredients including whatever pigments are on hand (my mind is immediately drawn to mushroom and plant dyes). There is no reason this paint would have to go onto an oak joined stool - it could go on your birdhouse or bathroom cupboard or garden whirligig. This is just one example of the type of information the book carries which I think could be useful for nearly any modern woodworker. I also recieved a note from one of the book's authors, Peter Follansbee. He had some trouble posting comments and so asked me to post this:
Here's what I wanted to say:
First off, I want to thank folks for their interest in our book. I do want
to clarify one thing however. I'm sorry if my writing has not made this
clear - but the joined works can be done in a short time frame from log to
finished product, but they don't NEED to be done quickly...the reality is
that I often have several joinery projects underway at any one time - and
months can go by between fabrication of parts and assembly. Right now I have
2 joined chests underway, started in November, partially test-assembled but
they won't be done for months.
Additionally almost all of the joiners work on my blog (maybe 80%)is my
personal work, not the work I do for the museum Plimoth Plantation in my
full-time job. It all looks the same because I am a one-trick pony - all I
really know is 17th-century joinery. So it is both my day job and my
hobby/side job. And both parts of this split personality happen in my shop
at the museum because that's where my tools are, I have no shop at home.
So I'm sorry I wasn't clear enough before, but do jump into joinery. You can
take your time and proceed just as Alexander & I outline in the book. As for
timber, some late 17th-century New England stuff was maple. That might
distort more than oak will in drying, so a little more attention & care will
get you there...