Tuesday, April 22, 2008

And I thought he only made Bibles....

I am joining the old book club. It seems that Chris Schwarz is always panning for gold nuggets in the dusty, old tomes of woodworking. I recently found that Chris Gochnour has been known to do the same thing. So even though my name isn’t Chris, I have decided to be an old book test pilot. Here is my inaugural flight into the realm of woodworking books of old. The good news is that I have found a book we can all take a look at.


It appears the Project Gutenberg folks have made it possible for the entire world to own a virtual copy of:


Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial Arts.

Teachers College, Columbia University


The entire book has been scanned, and is available at the link above. If this book had been written two weeks ago, I believe all of the woodworking book clubs would be clambering to secure exclusive rights to make it the Selection of the Month. It has about 4 boatloads of information, and it has pictures.

It tells how to sharpen a card scraper. It tells how to choose a hammer. It tells how to layout the rafters under the roof of your next house. It describes the proper circles to make when applying French Polish.

To me the most fascinating part of the book is the first section which provides tremendous detail on logging in the era before the internal combustion engine. The photos are amazing. Here are a couple just to whet your appetite.

Did it whet your appetite?

Wait!!!!!!! Did I just say “WHET”?????

Yes. And that leads us to the WHAT THE &$#*@&^%$ moment of the day…..

There is one area of this book that I read. Re-read. Paused to consider. Then re-read. It still confuses the heck out of me. I am pasting it here unedited….

To test the sharpness of a whetted edge, draw the tip of the finger or thumb lightly along it, Fig. 79. If the edge be dull, it will feel smooth: if it be sharp, and if care be taken, it will score the skin a little, not enough to cut thru, but just enough to be felt.

Fig. 79. Testing the Sharpness of a Chisel.

Maybe it’s because I am something of a bleeder, but I cannot bring myself to agree with that information. One of my primary objectives in woodworking is to avoid things that "score the skin a little."

99.9% of this free e-Book is gold, but whatever you do…don’t follow the advice “To test the sharpness of a whetted edge, draw the tip of the finger or thumb lightly along it…”

Enjoy your free book, and resist the urge to buy from the guy on Ebay who is offering a CD with this free eBook for the unheard of price of just under ten bucks. And to that Ebay guy...if you are one of my regular readers, I apologize for possibly hurting your plans for early retirement. It's nothing personal... I just wanted to be able to say that I gave all of my readers a free book.


JasonB said...

I would guess that Mr. Noyes had a layer of calluses on his hands and fingers that could be used as 60 grit sandpaper. That "little" score could probably go 1/16" deep without him feeling it.

Allan said...

Is there any way to download the file such that the photos are integrated into the text?

Also, yours is the top on my list of blogs to review (just slightly above Chris'). It's sort of the Everyman's Woodworking -- And Other Experiences That Make Us Human.

Spencer said...

Actually Harrelson Stanley said the same thing about edges. A perfectly sharp edge will have almost no resistance. I tried it with a Lie-Nielsen blade he sharpened and didn't slice myself (really!) It was almost surreal.

Jeff Skiver said...


Thanks for the kind words. I don't believe you, but thanks. I sort of assume you feel guilty about getting the link to the free eBook, and you feel like you have to pay me back by complimenting the blog. It's not necessary, but I'll take it.

As for the formats available...I don't know a lot about Project Gutenberg, but I just visited their FAQ page and found that I wasn't really supposed to link directly to a file. Instead, they prefer folks link to a general page for a given title where they can choose the format they want and possibly the global site they desire to download from. In this case, I should have linked to here:


All I see is plain text, HTML, and Plucker. Maybe, one of those formats will offer what you are looking for.

Jeff Skiver said...


I don't believe you. Instead, I think you are a 14 year old girl who has gotten into "cutting" and you are on a quest to get the rest of the world to join you.

Well, I don't need encouragement to cut myself on purpose. For me it happens as naturally as breathing, beating up mimes, or stalking pretty girls who have repeatedly asked me to stay the hell away. You've seen this blog, I can bust out bleeding as soon as my foot hits the floor of the basement where my shop is.

For you and other teenage girls, I want to say that cutting is wrong. All of us feel a little dirty on the inside sometimes, but cutting is not the way to cleanse yourself. At least use leeches or something, cause then you don't leave a bloody mess all over the house.

Learn to love yourself so you can turn your back on your addiction to self-mutilation.