Roy Underhill

Illustrations by Eleanor Underhill

The University of North Carolina Press Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina Press Chapel Hill

© 2008 The University of North Carolina Press

All rights reserved

Designed by Kimberly Bryant

Set in The Serif and The Sans by Rebecca Evans

Manufactured in the United States of America

The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources.

The University of North Carolina Press has been a member of the Green Press Initiative since 2003.

library of congress cataloging-in-publication data

Underhill, Roy.

The woodwright's guide : working wood with wedge and edge / Roy Underhill ; illustrations by Eleanor Underhill. p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index. isbn 978-0-8078-3245-5 (cloth : alk. paper) isbn 978-0-8078-5914-8 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Woodworking tools. 2. Wedges I. Title. TT186.U64 2008

684.082—dc22 2008024431

cloth 12 11 10 09 08 5 4 3 2 1 paper 12 11 10 09 08 5 4 3 2 1

University of North Carolina Press books may be purchased at a discount for educational, business, or sales promotional use. For information, please visit or write to UNC Press, attention: Sales Department, 116 South Boundary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808.

for the Galoots

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Introduction 1

1 Faller 3

2 Cleaver and Countryman 13

3 Hewer 39

4 Log Builder 45

5 Sawyer 51

6 Frame Carpenter 55

7 Joiner 69

8 Turner 117

9 Cabinetmaker 129 Conclusion: A Great Wheel 145


Plan A. Making Wooden Screws 147 Plan B. The Carpenter's Tap 152 Plan C. A Roubo Bench 158 Plan D. Hasluck's Bench 163 Plan E. A Spring-Pole Lathe 166 Plan F. A Treadle Lathe 168

Bibliography 173 Acknowledgments 177 Index 179

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The Woodwright's Guide

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My favorite comic book—snitched from Mark Olshaker's stash and read by flashlight under my blanket at summer camp — was Atomic Knights! In its post-Armageddon world, underground survivors dared not risk walking Earth's radioactive, rubble-strewn surface. Not, that is, until scientists discovered that old suits of armor would somehow protect the wearers from the still-lethal atomic radiation. Thus, our heroes, the Atomic Knights, ventured forth from the shelters to battle re-emergent evil, armed with swords, safely clad in suits of ancient iron.

Since then, I've learned to recognize the archetypal myth of redemption by ancestral spirits. In myth, it's always a sword, never a chisel. Still, it's the woodworking blade that got us here today. The ways in which we work make an ever greater difference to this ever smaller planet. A world that doesn't end with a communist bang can still go down with a consumerist whimper.

The working blade cuts deep into our history. An old axe or chisel likely contains iron that has been recycled since Roman times. The iron wedge and steel edge and the grain of wood are still with us. We still use a wedge to split the wood, exploiting the planes of weakness in the grain — paradoxically capturing its strength. We still use an edge to shear the wood, exposing the beauty of the grain, shaping it to our desire. Wedge and edge—obvious at times, sometimes working unseen and side by side, just as they have for thousands of years.

This book's journey begins in the forest and passes through each woodworking trade as its moves farther from the tree. We go from forest to furniture, from green to dry, from risk to certainty, nature to culture, outdoor to indoor, multiple hernias to carpal tunnel syndrome. I describe the tools and connections as they arise in each working environment. Thus, once the technique of drawboring a mortise and tenon joint is introduced in the carpenter's work, it reappears as a known quantity in joinery and cabinetmaking.

I revisit here many of the techniques that I discussed in earlier books. I hope I have explained matters with greater clarity and presented fewer idiosyncratic methods. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to watch some true masters at work. To paraphrase Isaac Newton, "I have looked over the shoulders of giants." I'll try to get out of the way as much as I can and let you see for yourself.

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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