Part IV Advanced areas of furniture construction

21 Carcass construction 187

22 Leg and frame construction 208

23 Door construction 227

24 Drawer and tray construction 244

25 Fall flaps, secretaires, cylinder falls and tambours 256

Part V Metal fittings/fasteners and their application

26 Screws, nails and pins 265

27 Hinges and hinging 267

28 Locks and locking actions 275

29 Stays, bookcase fittings and castors 282

30 Catches, bolts and handles 286

fittings 291

Part VI Advanced techniques

32 Veneering, marquetry and inlay 294

33 Table lining 323

34 Mouldings and lippings/edgings 325

35 Curved work 332

Part VII Running a professional workshop

36 Setting out and cutting lists 348

Part VIII Draughtsmanship and workshop geometry

37 The drawing office 352

38 Projections commonly used 355

39 Perspective drawing 359

40 Workshop geometry 363

Part IX Furniture designs and constructional details

41 Tables and desks (domestic and office)

42 Chests, cabinets and sideboards

43 Bedroom furniture

44 Seating and upholstery

45 Church furniture

46 Miscellaneous furniture

Part X Restoration, repairs and wood finishing

47 Structural repairs 500

380 48 Surface damage 503

422 49 Wood finishing 505

440 458

481 Appendix: Costing and estimating 512

492 Index 515

Preface to the revised edition

It was with some trepidation that I accepted the task of revising Ernest Joyce's work, for in the eyes of so many it had become the woodworker's bible, helping countless people in their search for woodworking knowledge and their own personal search for excellence. This reluctance to tamper with the bible, which was strong, and shared by many other people, was tempered by the knowledge that much had changed in the world of craft furniture since 1970 when this work was first published— changes that Ernest Joyce himself would well have approved. Writing as he did in the late sixties, he could never have envisaged the tremendous boom that was to take place in the crafts, nor how this was to spread so rapidly around the world. In particular, the craft of furniture making as practised in small workshops is now more healthy, relevant and exciting than at any time since the turn of the century.

We no longer have to apologize for working in wood, for using hand skills and traditional joints, nor for stressing quality and individuality or any of the other qualities of the individual craftsman. These are now so widely recognized that I have purposely shifted the emphasis in this book even further towards the self-employed craftsman and away from industry, not from any feeling of antipathy to the latter, but simply because, just as the craftsman has moved on these past fifteen years, so too has the furniture industry. Streamlined and increasingly international, so much of its technology and marketing techniques is far removed from the message this book has to give and Joyce himself was so anxious to impart.

If much has changed in regard to the status of the craftsman and the role of industry, many other things have not. Many of the skills and techniques practised in workshops today vary little from those of centuries ago. The hand tools we use daily differ little from those of 15 or even 150 years ago. What has changed.

however, is the choice available. From the humblest hand tool to the most powerful woodworking machine, we are now no longer restricted to what is made in our own country but have a wide choice from all over the world. Also, because power tools were relatively new fifteen years ago, it is natural that the biggest advance in choice and technical development should have been in this area, and consequently this section of the book has been expanded.

It would be impossible to revise this book without getting involved in the question of furniture design, for here, too. thinking has changed. It was inevitable that fashions would change since 1970, and no craftsman can afford to ignore fashion, whether he wishes to follow its dictates or not. But more important than the changes in fashion has been the emergence of such strong influences as the American school of craft furniture making, led by such international figures as Wendell Castle and James Krenov, and magazines, such as Fine Woodworking in the United States; the rise, too. of the Crafts Council in Britain, and the influence of such household names as John Makepeace. Habitat and MFI; and lately in Europe, as a climax to a decade of Italian domination of the industrial and contract furniture scene, the impact of Memphis design.

All these influences have combined to throw wider open than ever before that thorny question—what is good design? In 1970 it was somewhat easier to answer that in Britain. People tended to look to the Council of Industrial Design and its London Design Centre to give us the answer. But the public was becoming bored with acres of clinical, flush veneered doors and surfaces, and craftsmen too began to question the relevance of industrial design to their own work, where they were using low scale technology and designing not for a mass market with all the restrictions imposed by the production line, but for individuals and for themselves.

Thus there has been a reaction against the anonymity of much of the industrial furniture of the early 1970s, and a greater emphasis on individual creative work amongst craftsmen, and, more generally, a wider use of colour and decoration in the furniture in our shops.

The result in 1987 is that furniture design is very much in the melting pot. Some worthless gimmickry is thrown up side by side with much that excites and stimulates, and there is a sense of expectancy in the craft field that makes furniture making no longer one of our weaker surviving crafts, but one of the strongest and most vibrant.

Alan Peters 1987

Introduction to the first edition

Any textbook concerned with the techniques of furniture-making must deal primarily with the basic handcrafts for it is upon this groundwork that machine production is built, and in fact all the machine can ever do is to translate the essential hand operations into rotary movements of the cutting tool. In effect, therefore, mechanised production is no more than a speeding up of hand production, simplifying wherever possible but not radically interfering with methods which have taken over 4000 years to perfect, for wood is a natural material and imposes its own strict limitations. Where other forms of material are concerned techniques can of course differ, and not doubt in the future both plastics and metal will usurp much of the importance of wood, but it is hardly likely that it will be altogether supplanted, at least in the foreseeable future, for quite apart from aesthetic values it is still the cheapest medium; it can be worked with the simplest hand tools and is always easily repairable. To those pundits, therefore, who may claim that the teaching of hand skills is no longer relevant in this day and age it can be pointed out that anyone who has only been shown how to force a piece of wood against a mechanised saw will have learnt very little, but if he has had to saw-that piece of wood by hand he will be more likely to know that much more about it, he will have greater respect for it and will understand in greater depth the problems that will have to be faced in its manipulation.

Additional to this need for all machine operators to know their material and how best it can be shaped are questions of quality, not only in the artefact, but also of the artificer himself. Actuating a lever all day long is soul destroying, and modern civilisation must eventually deal with the inherent problems the machine imposes. Handwork allows a man to express his own individuality; it is creative, it is definitely therapeutic. The ideal of more handwork, more individual fulfilment, less automation of both man and machine may be economically impracticable, but it should not be dismissed out of hand for sooner or later we shall be forced to come to terms with the leisure automation will increasingly thrust upon us. Handwork, whether it be sawing a piece of wood or shaping a lump of clay, is one answer, and no apologia is needed.

Scope of the work

Terms in daily use often stretch their meanings and the expression 'handmade" can no longer be accepted as signifying only that work which is produced exclusively by hand-methods without recourse to the machine. Instead, it must now be taken as more descriptive of the approach than the means adopted, and a fair interpretation would include pure hand methods and those other methods which enlist the help of the machine without allowing it to dictate in any way. The inherent danger of mass production is that costly and complex machinery is always greedy for output in order to justify its existence, and it will tend to impose limitations on the designer and actively influence his work. In the so-called 'handwork' no such limitation is permissible and man continues to be the master, using the machine as an extension of his hands only and not as an independent entity liable at any time to question his decisions. It is with this 'handwork' and with this 'machine-assisted work' that the book is chiefly concerned and not with the mechanics of quantity production which belong more properly to the theory of wood machining, a subject which calls for a high degree of engineering skill. Having made the point, the term "handmade' is retained failing a more comprehensive description.

The general term 'cabinet-maker' is also outdated, for so-called "cabinet-work' is no longer confined to straight carcase furniture, with chair-making and other special activities as separate trades. Moreover, the Furniture Industry increasingly uses plastics, plastic laminates, metal sections, and many other new materials, all of which the cabinet-maker should know about, and he should be prepared to undertake any work within the general context of 'Furniture', with the possible exception of deep upholstery and hand and spray polishing, both of which require other aptitudes and training. The tendency, therefore, is to replace the term 'cabinet-maker' with the more comprehensive 'furniture-maker', but custom dies hard and both terms must be regarded as synonymous.

It remains to define what precisely is meant by furniture as distinct from joiners' work. The traditional sharp division between the two types of craftsmen has to some extent disappeared and is now more a matter of approach than anything, for each follows the same principles of construction and both have the same basic skills. Joiners' work which is normally considered to be part of the fabric of a building is usually strong, sturdy and not so intimately concerned with appearance, whereas the cabinet-maker's approach is towards compactness, lightness and delicacy of treatment. In self-contained, free-standing furniture there is no doubt as to the more suitable type of craftsman, but a good deal of fixed church-work, panelled work and particularly built-in fitments could be done equally well by either and it is difficult to draw sharp demarcations. In substance, however, the book is concerned with furniture only, which includes chair-work and those types of built-in fitments which are designed to replace freestanding furniture. It excludes such things as shop fitting, museum- and ship-work, etc., as specialist trades outside its province.

Ernest Joyce 1970

Part I Basic materials 1 Woods (hardwoods and softwoods)


In all, some 43,000 different species of wood-forming plants have been identified, of which some 30,000 could be regarded as timber producers in some form or other and about 10,000 commercially exploitable. Many of these are of local interest only owing to unsuitability, high cost of logging, non-availability in commercial quantities, etc., but many hundreds remain which are of sufficient importance to merit serious consideration. Certain timber species continually recur, i.e. oak types, walnut types, mahogany types, beech types, etc. whose names are familiar, but in any tropical forest there may be only about 18 timber trees to the acre (0.40 ha) and of these only two or three will be varieties with known names, and the logger must therefore strive to find markets for the remainder in order to make logging a commercial proposition. For this reason new species are constantly being introduced into world markets, but large-scale furniture manufacturers cannot afford to experiment, relying chiefly upon oak, ash, beech, etc., which are always in uninterrupted and plentiful supply, so the newcomers tend to be much cheaper in comparison, although not necessarily inferior in any way.

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

THIS book is one of the series of Handbooks on industrial subjects being published by the Popular Mechanics Company. Like Popular Mechanics Magazine, and like the other books in this series, it is written so you can understand it. The purpose of Popular Mechanics Handbooks is to supply a growing demand for high-class, up-to-date and accurate text-books, suitable for home study as well as for class use, on all mechanical subjects. The textand illustrations, in each instance, have been prepared expressly for this series by well known experts, and revised by the editor of Popular Mechanics.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment