Tools for Working Wood

 The Work Magazine Reprint Project

Issue No. 41 - Published December 28, 1889  


Greetings Workateers! Do look upon the mortising diagram below and tell me if it doesn't seem a bit like a hieroglyph. Something from a dream, perhaps? "I know what this means!" you might say to a band of fellow explorers upon discovering it etched into some ancient monolith. Pure fantasy, I know, but isn't the steps-to-cut-a-mortise instructional drawing something of a crop circle? Few among us know the true meaning of these lines...

Ah, the subtle art of cat-skinning. Anyone will tell you there is really only one way to go about it. Trouble is, no one agrees. I'm exaggerating, of course. But the (controversial?) middle-out approach proposed in this week's issue got me thinking: between opening a boiled egg at the big end or the small end, I'm just as likely to mortise with a row of neatly placed drill bits. What can I say? I'm a man without a country.

Still, even such a heretical recipe calls for some skill in holding the tool normal to the work surface. Indeed, contributor B.A. Baxter goes to some lengths to describe the concept, ultimately resolving the issue in an absurd theoretical exercise:

I love this guy. Don't mistake my exuberant tone for ridicule. We don't always take the time or care to put the facts of manual work down in ink, never mind with so much earnest flourish. "Hints To Young Joiners On Setting Out And Mortising" deserves our sincere attention and discussion.

Is anyone making a piano? -TIM

Disclaimer: Articles in Work: The Illustrated Weekly Journal for Mechanics describe materials and methods that would not be considered safe or advisable today. We are not responsible for the content of these magazines, and cannot take any responsibility for anyone attempting projects or procedures described therein.

The first issue of Work was published on March 23rd, 1889. The goal of this project is to release digital copies of the individual issues starting on the same date in 2012, effectively republishing the materials 123 years to the day from their original release.

The original printing was on thin, inexpensive paper. There are many cases of uneven inking and bleed-through from the page behind. Our copies of Work come from bound library volumes of these issues and are subject to unfavorable trimming, missing covers, etc. To minimize harm to these fragile volumes, we've undertaken the task of scanning the books ourselves. We do considerable post processing of the scans to make them clear but please bear with us if a margin is clipped too close, or a few words are unreadable. We would like to thank James Vasile and Karl Fogel for their help in supplying us with a book scanner and generally enabling this project to get off the ground.

You are welcome to download, print, and pretty much do what you want with the scan for your own personal purposes. Feel free to post a link or a copy on your blog or website. All we ask is a link back to the original project and this blog. We are not answering requests for commercial downloads or reprinting at this time.

• Click to Download Vol.1 - No. 41 •

Tags:Woodworking Tools and Techniques,Historical Subjects,Misc.
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