Sunday, April 15, 2018

Stone Age Woodworking Tools??

I have been following Christopher Schwarz's research into early woodworking benches for some time.  I admire his dedication to travel and study Medieval and Roman woodworking tools and benches to understand the history of our craft.

I have been focused during my career on the post Renaissance woodworker, so each time Christopher posts something I am fascinated by the "new" evidence he presents of "old" work.

His post today just stopped me cold.  Never in my imagination did I think that Stone Age people would make something sophisticated using stone tools!  It was normal to think of them throwing spears at mastodons or using rocks to crush bones or something primitive like that.  But to think of them making a mortise or cutting down a large tree with a stone tool?  Not possible.

Just watch this video for your self:  Stone Age Woodworking

Just one question:  When I need to sharpen my stone axe, do I use a water stone or an oil stone???

POSTSCRIPT:  If this interests you just go to YouTube and search for "Primitive Technology."

Friday, April 13, 2018

Pocket Screws

The Gimlet Tool

When dating furniture it is essential to closely examine the clues left behind by the worker and his tools.  The process of shaping and joining wood will always result in some evidence of how it was done.  Over time, newer tools were introduced, and that provides a clear dating feature for students and conservators to understand.

Today I thought I would just show a simple example for collectors who may not have noticed it before.  To me this feature is obvious, but I have been doing this for so long I just take it for granted.  I take satisfaction in knowing that I am educating clients as I point out tool marks and dating methods so that they can gain a new appreciation of what they own.

Years ago I posted on the history of the screw (search: "Respect The Screw").  Today I want to continue that thought by discussing the gimlet.

The gimlet tool was a staple of every woodworker's tool box.  It looked rather like an old fashioned cork screw, in that it had a wood handle attached to a long metal shaft with a screw tip.  Since all the screws made before 1846 were blunt it was necessary to start the hole first with a gimlet.  This would create the screw tap for the blunt screw to get started.

When pointed screws became available the gimlet lost its function and sat abandoned in the bottom of the tool box.

However, something else happened at the same time.  The gimlet tip (a pointed screw) was added to the twist bit on the drill.  Instead of the blunt spoon bit or spur bit shape the gimlet pointed twist bit became quickly popular, since the gimlet actually helped to pull the twist bit into the wood.



Post 1850 Gimlet Tip Twist Bit

One application of this new twist bit was how it changed the method for installing "pocket screws."

I am using the term "pocket screw" here knowing it is a modern term.  Today a pocket screw device is rather common among modern cabinetmakers who use it to fasten face plates to kitchen cabinets, among other uses.  It is actually a continuation of the method developed centuries ago for installing a screw on a 90 degree joint.

Before 1850 the only way to install a screw on a corner was to use a gouge chisel and carve a "U" shaped entry.  First the proper distance from the edge of the wood was marked with a scribe, depending on the size of the screw.  That would allow a flat chisel to cut into the wood, leaving a surface for the screw head.  At the same time the gouge would be used to clean out the wood allowing for the "turn screw" (the traditional name for the "screw driver") to properly reach the screw.

This is what it looks like:


Before 1850
Many workers were quite careful to make this look clean and proper, even though it was never used on outside, finished show surfaces:



This Worker was Skilled and Proud of His Work
After the gimlet bit drill became popular the method of attaching screws changed.  The drill was used to create a hole in the wood and the screw was then introduced on the edge.  It was perhaps quicker, but it made it more difficult for the screw driver to properly approach the screw.  On this photo you can see the slight marks left on the edge of the hole by my screw driver as I removed and then re attached the screw:

Note the Center Mark left by the Gimlet Point
Normally, I find this feature common on furniture made around the time of the Civil War.  Old traditional workers did not abandon their methods over night and it is possible to find the chisel method used even after the Civil War.

This is an interesting example I found on an 18th century Philadelphia walnut drop leaf table.  Although the original screws were chiseled in as usual, some later repairs were made and the new screws were let in with a gimlet bit.  Perhaps not the best method for repairing pre industrial furniture, but still this photo provides a learning experience:

Don't Do This to Period Furniture, Please.

Monday, April 9, 2018

I Have A Foot Fetish...

Walnut Philadelphia Chippendale Foot Standing on Wet Floor for Years

I just returned from several days hiking in the mountains.  I hiked a lot when I was young (50 years ago) and have decided to return to the activity again, now that I am still able.  Outdoor gear is a big business, and, as I carefully explained to my wife, since I didn't have a boat or golf clubs, it was fine to spend some money on hiking equipment.

My first purchase was some very expensive old school leather hiking boots made in Italy.  I love leather boots and this is my third pair in 50 years.  They last about 15 years on average.

As I hiked this past weekend, I would pass other hikers on the trail and each time I would look at their feet.  Their choice of boots and the condition of the boots told me all I needed to know about them.  Some were new, some were worn out.  Some were too big and some were just ridiculous and not appropriate for the trail.

My foot fetish is not limited to people.  Most of the time I look at feet on antiques.  In fact, it is always the first thing I examine when I see a new piece of furniture.

Think about it.  Something which has "stood the test of time" has been in contact with the floor for centuries.  Moving around the house.  Often drug across rough floors.  Standing in water or on wet bricks.  Attacked by insects who like to bore into the piece from the bottom.  Being kicked by human feet, or attacked by dogs.  Broken and repaired or replaced by workmen with different degrees of skill.  Being lost completely and replaced by something completely different than the original.

All of these things tell the story of the antique and help to confirm the age and origin of the object.

That is why I always turn a piece of furniture upside down and start my analysis from the bottom.

Currently I am restoring an English butler's bureau, made around 1780.  I thought the feet were interesting and would like to share their history with you so you can have a chance to see how to read the clues like I do.

Back of Bureau Showing Feet Brackets
Note the left back bracket is a different color and wood than the right.

Original Bracket after Old Repair

Replaced Bracket (19th Century) with Cut Nails
Let's look at one of the back legs more closely.  What do you see?

What Are The Clues?
The original pine back bracket was repaired with newer nails and raised up on a spacer.  It retains the original glue block with dark patina, and the original pine glue block on the right remains.  The outside leg bracket is new and held with cut nails, from the 19th century.  A more recent addition is the foot support block, with its dark oil stain, showing fresh wood at the end.

Lets look at the front foot.

Front Foot
Here it is obvious that the outside bracket is a 19th century replacement, and has a shim to fit it to the old glue block.  The front leg bracket is original and made of pine with a thick mahogany facing.  All the replacement brackets are solid mahogany, and not made with pine, as were the original feet.

Look more closely at the tool marks on the original foot.

Completely Untouched After 250 Years
Important Evidence of Original Work




Note that the patina is consistent from the front bracket to the glue block.  Note the chisel marks on the original pine block.  Note in particular how the rasp and saw marks left by the maker when he shaped the bracket foot are consistent across the glue block.

Compare with the other front foot.

Second Front Foot
Here we find evidence that some worker during the 19th century replaced the foot and glue blocks.  He used screws to attach the brackets.  He made an effort to use pine blocks for glue blocks, but the shape and construction is not like the original.

Band Saw Marks, Machine Made Screw, Cut Nails
Tool Marks Do Not Match
Since the cabinet is upside down, it is a good opportunity to look at the evidence of age on the bottom boards.  What a beautiful story they tell.

Original Bottom Boards Dovetailed Into Carcase
This Is What Human Labor Looks Like
Human Effort

You can read every pass of the scrub plane as the worker cleaned up the saw marks.  This is not a surface that would normally be seen so it is not essential to make it nice.  18th Century furniture was made in a hurry and at a low cost due to competition.  Workers did not spend extra time on surfaces which were not visible to the client.  This bottom shows the effort of a skilled cabinet maker to make a surface fairly flat and clean, and the patina of hundreds of years of household dirt and grime.

It would be nearly impossible to fake this surface.  (I said "nearly")

This bureau, which has served an unknown number of owners over the years, is still standing proudly on its four feet.  However, only two of the 8 original brackets remain from its birth.  The fact that one of these brackets has never been repaired or removed is enough to prove its origins and date it to the last quarter of the 18th century.

That shoe has survived the long and winding road.


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Eastlake Settee Upholstery

Not Enough Springs and Badly Tied


Dead Foam on Old Cotton on Plant Fibre with Original Edge

Three Days on the Bench for Structural Repairs

More Springs Added and Tied 8 Knot Italian Cord

Original Plant Fibre Edge Back in Place with Burlap

Original Hair Stuffed Arms and Back Panels Conserved



New Horsehair Added for Seat Foundation


Burlap Covers Hair

Front Edge Stitched to Hold Hair


Muslin Covers New Seat Foundation

50/50 Cotton Batting Covers Muslin



Eastlake Sette Ready for New Century of Use

Monday, March 19, 2018

What is the Future of the Past?


My copy of the Center Table in the White House


I remember very clearly watching on television (in black and white) as Jackie Kennedy gave a tour of the White House.  She walked slowly and elegantly from room to room, saying "This is the Blue Room" and "This is the Red Room".  However, on my television it was up to my imagination which was which.

As she stood in the center of the Blue Room and discussed the mahogany center table with white marble top I fell in love with antiques.  Love at first sight.  They spoke to me.  Not as something "dated" or "out of fashion" but instead I had the insight that they were "new" and "modern" when Dolly Madison stood in the same room.

The period of American history between Madison (and the burning of the White House by the British) and Monroe is rich with great design, and artists and craftsmen produced objects as fine as anything in Europe.  America was guided by the strong impression that it was the New World and appropriated design elements from Egypt, Greece and Rome, as they were transmitted to our shores from Italy, France and England by way of Napoleon.  In fact, I contend that the Napoleonic era produced the first purely politically engineered international design: Empire.  In the centuries before Napoleon the designs are always associated with the King (Louis XIV, XV, Queen Anne, etc.) or the designer (Chippendale, Hepplewhite, etc.)

It was Napoleon who dreamed of World Conquest and his love of the ancient world powers and their influence drove him to export the first truly International Style.  It was under his direction that expeditions were sent to Egypt to return with new designs,  as well as incorporating the symbols of Rome (stars, eagles, lions, etc) and Greece (acanthus, classic proportions, etc.)

All of this influence was found in the New World, culminating with President Monroe issuing the famous Monroe Doctrine during his term.  He was saying that America was powerful and would protect the entire hemisphere from any "foreign" influence.  Imagine a young country, in its first generation of existence, declaring that it would stand up to nations which had existed for many centuries.

All of this bravado and new money was reflected in the furnishings of that time.  Ship loads of ancient Cuban mahogany were delivered in all the Eastern seaports, from Charleston to Portsmouth and worked by skilled furniture makers into elegant designs where no expense was spared.  Carving was everywhere, rich veneers were carefully selected and highly polished, imported French gilt bronze mounts were added, all in the fashionable Empire taste, but with an American flavor.

I have been collecting and researching objects from this period for 50 years.  I have watched the market rise and fall, depending on the whims of fancy.  I collect because I want to understand the culture and society which created these forms and lived with them every day.  I have whale oil Argand lamps, candelabra with gilt bronze frames, girandole convex mirrors, coin silver service, klismos chairs, Recamier sofas, console tables with marble statuary,  and polished mahogany everywhere.  That's just in the living room.  In the bedroom my wife and I sleep in a mahogany bedstead with Doric columns and a silk canopy that nearly touches the ceiling at 10 feet tall.  The mattress is so far off the floor we use bed steps to climb in at night.

During the 1960's, when I started collecting antiques, they were often found in thrift stores.  The market for antiques was not well developed, and the true antique stores were run by educated dealers who focused on Old Masters, and furniture made before the Empire period.  Wallace Nutting, who wrote Furniture Treasury in the 1920's was a great influence on these dealers, and often said he believed that the furniture made after 1800 was "degraded" and "inferior" to what had been made earlier.

Mr. Dupont, who furnished over 100 rooms in his house at Winterthur, had the same belief.  He wanted nothing to do with Empire furniture, and it is only after his death that objects from this period were acquired by the museum.  I can take pride in the fact that I had a Quervelle sideboard in my dining room years before Winterthur acquired theirs.  (And mine is better!)

As nearly everyone in the business knows, the market for antiques has suffered since 2008.  It is now at rock bottom.  I have had several collectors in recent years just give me antiques, rather than toss them out.  Just this past week I was given an 18th century marquetry French commode with original marble top.  The marble top alone is worth thousands of dollars (in a good market).

What has caused this and where do we go from here?

The New York Times (March 8) had a full page article, "How Low Will the Market Go?" discussing recent trends in collecting.  It mentions that "prices for average pieces are now '80 percent off'" from 15 years ago.  This is in fact true.  It is certainly a buyer's market, just like it was in the 1960's when I started collecting.

In general, the antiques market is funded by real estate equity.  As home values rise and people move up in the market, they spend money on interior furnishings, like carpets, kitchens, and furniture.  For the same reasons that buying real estate was a good idea, buying high quality antiques was understood as a good investment.

Several factors convened after the crash to change this attitude.  Many home owners were upside down in equity and forced to abandon their homes or sell at a significant loss.  Selling antiques is not always easy in a good market, but in a bad market it is nearly impossible, as high quality furnishings are usually purchased with discretionary money.

Nearly all antique dealers keep surplus inventory in a storage unit, waiting to be put on the floor as merchandise moves.  Rather than put a "50% off Sale" banner in the window, these dealers kept the retail prices as long as possible and dumped large quantities of good inventory into auction houses directly from their storage units.  This flooded the market at a time when there were no buyers, plunging the values across the board.

Investors who held large collections began to sell off their antiques into this market, and began to get new appraisals of their market value to determine a price.  Since appraisers are required to include the most recent "comps" the values indicated by the current auction sales were dramatically low, compared to what the same pieces were appraised at 20 years earlier.

Due to the falling value of antiques there was little incentive for any collector to keep collecting.

There are also other factors, less obvious, which contributed to the lack of interest in antiques.  Most importantly the dealers themselves ruined the market.  There are no real qualifications to be an antique dealer, and many dealers were either ignorant of what they were selling or (even worse) happy to fraudulently represent their inventory as something else to close the sale.  Fakes were easy to make and made up a large portion of the market.

The gradual transformation of the business from a dealer owned store (with his valued reputation on the line) to that of the "Antique Mall" store also made it easier to sell fakes and junk, since there was no individual "dealer" to account for selling merchandise that is damaged, modified or fake. In fact, the "Antique Mall" format, with one person managing the booths, became a real alternative to sellers keeping their inventory in storage lockers.  Rather than pay for a storage locker, it was cheaper to store their "vintage" inventory in a booth at the Mall.

Nothing is more depressing to a knowledgeable antique collector than walking through one of these Malls, looking for the jewel in the junk.

Another factor in the demise of the market is the failure of the workers in the furniture restoration business to do the right thing.  Again, there are no real requirements for a person to call himself a "restorer" and too many workers use sheet rock screws, nails, epoxy, modern glues and finishes and Bondo to get the job done.

I have two prices for work brought into my shop.  One is for the damage which has not been previously repaired.  The other is for the damage which was done by an amateur and requires me to undo his damage before I can address the original problem.

Don't get me started on Gorilla Glue!

Patrice Lejeune Conserving Boulle Table Top


A good example of how poor conservation can affect value is with Boulle.  Boulle work is made of metals and tortoise shell and other non wood surface decoration which is glued to a solid wood substrate.  The only glue which is properly used in Boulle work is fish glue.  Fish glue allows for the expected expansion and contraction of the substrate to occur over time, but keeps the marquetry in place.  When lifting happens, as it always does, most repair men reach for epoxy or even small nails to make the repair.  In fact, by fixing spots of the surface to the substrate with nails or epoxy, the situation is made worse, as new areas will therefore life during subsequent wood movement.

There are very few qualified conservators in America who can properly restore Boulle work and thus the market suffers.

To compound this problem, C.I.T.I.E.S. regulations have made buying and selling antiques which contain tortoise shell, rosewood, Cuban mahogany, ivory, and hundreds of other endangered materials complicated.  The rules are not complete and not clear as to what is legal and what is not. To protect themselves, many sellers who list online are presenting ivory as "bone" and tortoise shell as "horn".  It is very easy to list rosewood as "walnut."  This situation makes it difficult for buyers to actually know what they are getting.

Another question which is universal in this business is "What is the legal definition of an Antique?"
When the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act was passed in 1930 it did two things: it was partially responsible for the Great Depression, and it defined Antiques (for duty free importation) as "made before 1830.  This was the original concept which I followed when I started collecting.  1830 represented a general date for the "end" of hand work and the "start" of the Industrial Revolution.

By 1966 the antiques industry was lobbying Congress to revise the act, and Lyndon Johnson signed legislation which changed the definition from "before 1830" to "100 years old."  Instantly all the Victorian furniture made between 1830 and 1866 became "antique."  This created a rush to collect mid 19th century stuff and the excitement of antiques lasted well past the BiCentennial.

Now the date is changing again.  According to the NYT article: "Even New York's prestigious Antiques Show has changed its rules.  Founded in 1955, the show once required that exhibited pieces be at least 100 years old.  In 2009, the organizers and dealer committee changed the cutoff date to 1969 to include mid century objects.  In 2016, they removed the date restriction entirely, paving the way for contemporary design."

 This evolution of the concept of "antique" has completely changed the market.  According to the article, "Custom made pieces by living designer-artisans have 'become 70 to 80 percent of our business'...Indeed, a recent survey 1stdibs commissioned found that professional interior designers used about 65 percent contemporary products in their projects last year, and only 35 percent vintage."

I have been aware of this trend during my career.  In addition to antique furniture conservation, I make and sell museum quality copies of historic pieces.  I have had no difficulty finding a market, at very good prices, for my creations.  I am a living artisan and my work will stand the test of time.


Louis Philippe Tilt Tables Made by Living Artisan


Not so much for those who experiment with modern materials to make their furniture.  Just like Jackson Pollack's paintings are decomposing after 50 years, much of the contemporary furniture is failing to stand up over the years.  In the same section the NYT has another article, "When Furniture Fails the Test of Time."  The opening paragraph states: "One famous designer chair is oozing goop.  Another has exploded into puffs of foam.  A bookcase's shelves bubbled as gases formed within.  The culprits?  Plastic.  And time."

Modern furniture is often toxic, and unstable.  And not easily repairable.  Long after the foam rots and the plastic melts and the catalyzed finish cracks, the Cuban mahogany table with its protein glue and shellac finish will still stand proud and handsome.

Finally, I would like to explain, from my perspective, the current fashion for mid century furniture.  In fact, I am "mid century" being born in 1948 and grew up with this stuff.  Most of my education in the field of antiques was gained from books and travel.  Today, much of the information is gathered from videos, movies and the internet.  What is the material you see most often?  Stuff from the last 50 years.  Young people associate with recent events and have a nostalgia for the culture of the last half century.

Therefore, I have changed my "pitch" about antiques when approached by a new collector.  Antiques are "green" and have no carbon footprint.  The raw material was harvested from ancient forests by human and animal power, transported across oceans by wind power,  sawn into rough lumber by water power and worked into the final form by human hands.  All the materials used were organic and non toxic.  To conserve them and restore them is the ultimate form of recycling.

On the other hand, much of modern furnishings use toxic materials and industrial power and have a huge carbon footprint as a result of transportation by truck or cargo ship.  In addition, modern furniture has, by its very nature, a very limited shelf life and will need to be replaced frequently.

I "retired" from my early career in Nuclear Physics when I realized that nuclear waste will endanger our existence on this planet.  I choose to restore antiques as a personal mission to save something important from the past.

I want to thank Jackie Kennedy for pointing me in the right direction.

Jackie Kennedy White House Tour




Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Funny Folk Art Fake Discovered

This article from M.A.D. came across my screen yesterday.  I found it very interesting.

Civil War Secretary

If you search this blog you will find other posts on fakes.  In particular, you should review the post "When is a Fake Antique?"

Unless the museum actually destroys this piece it will become an antique one day.

It is certainly curious and should have been more carefully examined by the "experts."  Unfortunately, the "experts" who are working in the field these days gained most of their experience through books, papers and professional presentations by others.

After standing at the bench and restoring antiques for 50 years you gain considerable insight.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Risk of Living as a Process of Life


On the Bench I Saw a Holdfast 
Next year I will be entering my 8th decade of walking on this earth.  I am happy and healthy and I have no immediate needs.  I cannot complain, but I do it anyway, just for sport.

A few years ago I was on a cruise ship and I made it a daily ritual to approach the front desk and complain about something trivial, like a pen that didn't work or something.  The patient young lady at the desk was named "Lovely" and she was, always smiling at this funky old man who stood in line to complain about nothing.  At the end of a magnificent cruise, just before I left the boat, I approached her one last time.

"Good morning, Mr. Edwards," she smiled pleasantly.  "How was  your cruise?"

I said, "I want to register a complaint!"

I paused just long enough for her to think to herself, "What is it now?"

Then I said, "There's nothing to complain about!"

In my mind that was funny, but I can understand how she must have been relieved that this was the last time she would have to talk to me.  She smiled nicely and said, "I look forward to seeing you again."  She was one of the most optimistic and happy people I have ever met.

Life is a process, getting through every day with as little pain as possible and as much pleasure as you can create.  If you are happy then the people you meet will be infected with happiness.  Life is also a great risk.  The only certainty of living is that we will eventually die at some point.  Knowing that I will be 70 puts a rather uncomfortable limit on the time left to do the things I need to do.

On the other hand, celebrating the past 50 years of living as a woodworker has been very satisfying and I hope that the rest of my time in this business will continue as much as possible with the same satisfaction.

People I meet often say that I don't look my age.  My hair is not grey, my face is not wrinkled, and I am still very physically active.  I usually tell them my secret rules for a good life:

Go to bed at 9 and get up at 5.  Eat healthy organic food.  No alcohol, drugs or tobacco.  As little social life as possible.  Most importantly, work every day at a job you love.  Live with passion.

This year I have been invited to return to Williamsburg as a speaker.  They are celebrating their 20th annual Working Wood in the 18th century conference, and the topic is "Workmanship of Risk: Exploring Period Tools and Shops."  I am honored to be included.  My good friends, Roy Underhill, Peter Follansbee and Don Williams will also be presenting, along with staff members of the Williamsburg cabinet shop and curatorial departments.


This is What Greets the Worker Every Day as He Opens His Tool Box


For the project we will be discussing an amazing marquetry tool box lid,  currently on loan to a museum in England and the property of Jane Rees, a tool historian who lives there.

Her website is: Jane Rees, Photographer and Tool Historian

Jane will be bringing the tool box lid to the conference and she will be discussing its history as well.  I look forward to meeting her and listening to her perspective on woodworking tools, many of which I use on a daily basis in my profession.  She has been kind enough to send me detailed photographs of the marquetry, and those which I post here are under her copyright protection.

When I "retired" from my career working in High Energy Particle Physics, back in 1973, I made a conscious decision to abandon technology and live, as much as possible, a pre industrial life.  Of course I own a car, but I walk to work every day.  Of course I own a clock but I never use the alarm.  Of course I have a computer but I killed my TV.  Of course I have a woodworking shop but I never use power tools.  My lumber is naturally air dried over many years.

Early on I was influenced by David Pye, who introduced me to the "Workmanship of Risk" and the "Workmanship of Certainty."  Recently I read his book again to prepare for this conference.  It still resonates with wisdom and insight.

I have struggled to reduce his philosophical perspective to simple concepts that are more easily transmitted to students who are curious about how I approach my work.  There are three elements to working wood: Worker, Material and Tool.  The difference between "risk" and "certainty" is in the relationship between these three elements.

In the "Workmanship of Risk" approach the Worker manipulates the Tool against the Work.  Using basic hand tools, like a chisel, plane or saw, the Worker learns to control the Tool and takes risks producing the final Work.  Learning from his failures the Worker gains a deep sense of pride when the Work is successful.

In the "Workmanship of Certainty" approach the Worker manipulates the Work (material) against the Tool.  If the Tool is properly adjusted then the result is certain.  Setting a fence on a table saw to 2" produces a 2" board every time.  The Worker basically is feeding the Machine.  If the Worker wants a better result he purchases a better Machine.  Thus consumerism was created by the Industrial Revolution.  Bigger, Better and Faster.  Also Cheaper!

The pride of ownership replaced the pride of workmanship.

The marquetry tool box lid, which is the centerpiece of this conference, is very interesting.  My initial analysis from photos is that it represents several different historic marquetry processes, and was probably made in England around 1800 or so.  It shows a worker at the bench, surrounded by his tools and work, drinking a beer.  This image is in the center of a sunburst ray of veneer with flowers on the corners and decorative banding around nicely figured crotch mahogany ovals.

I can identify "tarsia geometrica" and "tarsia a toppo" and "tarsia a incastro" and I am researching the images provided by Jane for evidence of "Classic Method" but so far the results are inconclusive.  There is also a great deal of tinting and additional decorative lines in both black and brown ink.

I will be producing copies of each of the decorative marquetry elements in this lid for the conference, and the Williamsburg cabinet shop is actually making a full tool box copy to complete the lid.

I can easily relate to the image of the woodworker as executed in the center of the design.


Working At the Bench


He is surrounded with the necessary hand tools of his trade: the glue pot and brush, mallet, hammer, planes, brace and bit, compass, try square, chisels, hand saws and the toothing plane (under the beer.)  On the end of the bench he quietly admires the result of his hard work and experience: a decorated tea caddy.  Tea caddies of this style were purchased by wealthy clients who could afford the elaborate marquetry decoration shown on this example.


Put Down the Hammer and Pick Up the Beer

This worker is dressed in fine clothes, representing a good income and his respected position in the professional trade. He would fit right in with the other workers at the shop in Williamsburg or in any shop in any large city at that time.

His face shows the faint glimmer of a smile.  His work is done for the day.  He is satisfied with the results.  His reward is a tall glass, with a nice head of foam.

Tomorrow he will deliver the tea caddy to the client, and get his well deserved paycheck along with sincere appreciation for a professional job well done.

Tomorrow is another day to live and work, take risks, learn from failure and take satisfaction in success.  Make someone happy and remember...there's nothing to complain about.