Want to build a wheeled, revolving bookcase designed in 1890? Yeah you do
Tools for Working Wood is the name of a Brooklyn-based company that sells, well, guess. And in addition to their retail arm, they’ve got a website featuring articles on craft along with some very interesting information for makers—from 1889. The company somehow got their hands on several volumes of Work: An Illustrated Magazine of Practice and Theory for All Workmen, Professional and Amateur, a 19th-Century British magazine aimed at craftspeople. And the team at TWW has decided to scan every issue they’ve got, releasing new updates each Friday and making them freely downloadable.
While the information listed in Work is over 120 years old—TWW goes so far as to include the disclaimer “[some of the articles] describe materials and methods that would not be considered safe or advisable today”—I’ve totally fallen down the rabbit hole. Advertisements for tools of the day, like this crazy-ass hand-powered table saw…
…share space with articles on how to build a workbench that folds into the wall, or breaking news like the then-new production method of metal spinning, or why you should make your own “callipers” rather than buy a set, and an “Our Guide to Good Things” section where they review tools and materials of the day.
One surprise is their letters section, called “Shop: A Corner for Those who Want to Talk It,” whereby craftspeople of every stripe—metalworkers, furniture builders, watchmakers, toolmakers, and even people toying around with these newfangled things called cameras and electricity—sound off with tips, techniques and criticisms. Which brings me to a second surprise: Trolls existed even in the Victorian era. One reader writes in to criticize an article from a previous issue, opening with “I would point out that the description you give of the process is evidently far from correct, nor have I any idea as to what is intended….”
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