By Hand and By Eye

By Hand and By Eye.



I just registered for the class linked above, which I heard about at the Hand Plane Essentials class I took this weekend from Jim Tolpin.  It was a great class, and I am really looking forward to this design class.

Design and Construction Strategies for Hand Tool Woodworkers

This class is based on the research that Jim Tolpin is doing for his forthcoming book with George Walker on the design and layout techniques used in the 17-18th centuries.

These traditional techniques use basic (and simple) geometric techniques to create designs for well proportioned furniture. The notion of well proportioned is ingrained in the human eye and is rooted in the different elements of the piece of furniture having whole number proportions (like 1:3 or 3:5). 

These proportioned dimensions are easy to create using a sector and dividers. A sector is a simple tool made of two sticks hinged together (you’ll make one in class).

You can, in fact, create a whole design with out needing to reduce the dimensions to feet and inches (or millimetres)! This can be liberating for the hand tool woodworker – it can help you escape the tyranny of the machine or getting overwhelmed trying to use a drawing program on your computer.

Jim also looks at how your design and layout of joinery should be slaved to your tools. Making simple decisions during this stage can greatly simplify the process of dimensioning the stock and cutting the joinery.

We were discussing this on Sunday as the class was winding down, about the difference between the engineer perspective and the artisan perspective.  I made a comment that I really liked.  “Measuring is so imprecise!“   It really is, when you are talking about woodworking, you spend a lot of time get a measurement dead one, and the saw drifts a tiny bit, and you’re short.  That is if, you’re cutting all the pieces in one go.  If you cut one piece, and then fit it to the next, and then base the next off that, etc. you will be guaranteed to have it fitting right.  This is how the artisans who built all the furniture we love to emulate, and are inspired by.  At best they had a two fold rule, no digital calipers, or table saws.  I am super excited about this class and the book that follows the research they did coming out at Lost Art Press.


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