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Prior to the William & Mary period (in this country, at least) most furniture was boxy, massive and simply decorated.
When William of Orange and Mary II were welcomed into England in 1688 from Holland, they brought with them lots of Dutch craftsmen. Here you can see the beginnings of the Queen Anne period with the reversing curve of the back.
William & Mary furniture is identifiable by its bun feet, symmetry in design, the use of bold mouldings with architectural proportioning and chairs with canted backs.
The United States began life as a British colony, so naturally we took our decorating cues from the mother country. By 1695, the official “starting” date for the William & Mary period, we were no longer a group of ragtag settlers. The presence of a growing number of professional craftsmen changed both the design and construction of furniture in a great number of ways during this period. Christopher Schwarz has helped many of us solve some pretty frustrating problems over the years. Mario Rodriguez pays homage to one of the great Art Deco designers, Emile-Jaques Ruhlmann, with a jewel of a tabouret (side table) for our cover story for the April 2015 issue. Frank Strazza, a woodworking teacher and furniture maker working out of Texas, shows you how to use hand tools to make sliding dovetails. On Page 42, school is in session — flex your joint-making muscles with a stool by Neil Cronk that includes eight different types of joints, along with bent lamination and several hand-shaped parts. Not many people can say they changed the world — but a curious attorney revolutionized the woodworking world with an iconic chair and years of research. Create sultry sophistication with Art Deco details by Mario Rodriguez page 23 Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933) is considered by craftspeople, collectors and designers to be the premier Art Deco furniture maker; he was called “Art Deco’s greatest artist” by The New York Times in 2009. The new dovetail saw from craftsman Rob Cosman pushes the limits on saws that are designed to cut woodworking’s signature joint.
Swanstone is a solid-surface material like Corian, but it is reinforced with glass to be more durable.
The day after tomorrow is Independence Day, and there’s nothing more independent than building out your own workshop.
I started digging into our magazine archives and found a number of articles on building your own router table.
All four of these designs are available in our store as part of the magazine issues in which they originally appeared.
And speaking of no-nonsense designs for your workshop, there is one more router table and 23 other projects in our new book from Danny Proulx, “Practical Woodshop Projects.” Danny was famous for his stripped-down approach. Celebrate your independence by spending a lot of time in your shop this weekend and making it that much easier to use!
Below, you’ll find capsule descriptions of every article, with links to the free Online Extras.
There are all manner of drill press tables and fences, from a simple 2x4 clamped to the machine’s cast iron table to ones with gadgets and gizmos galore. In my last article, I discussed the history of boarded (nailed) furniture and tried to get you as excited about it as I am.
Tom-You’ll have to wait for a really thorough and detailed explanation of making an electronic drawing or model from a photo. I’ve been contemplating just such a project, and the bow arm is more appealing to me. A Morris Chair is the next major project I want to tackle, but mine will be of the bow arm variety. I have vivid memories of my FIL regularly dozing off in a similar chair after Sunday lunch! Here you can see how the two different bevels on the gauge work together to properly lay out tenon cheeks.
If you remember the Veritas Dodeca-Gauge – the company’s hilarious April Fool’s prank that featured a marking gauge with 12 independent sliding rods – then the company’s newest tool might look a little familiar to you. The Veritas Dual Marking Gauge offers only one-sixth of the rods of the fictional Dodeca-Gauge, but the good news is that the Dual Marking Gauge actually exists.
Traditionally, marking or cutting gauges that offer two beams are called “mortise gauges,” though I’ve always found that term a bit lacking. However, I do want a gauge with two beams when I mark out tenons – especially when I am working by hand. If you do hand joinery – especially mortise-and-tenon joints – this is a no-apologies winner. Chris is a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking Magazine and the publisher at Lost Art Press. Well I like the fact that you can scribe one line at a time instead of having to always do them simultaneously. After years of having only poorly made tools to choose from, woodworkers now have some excellent new spokeshaves at their disposal. Most woodworkers I know consider spokeshaves to be little more than wretched pieces of painted iron and steel. Armed with a pair of spokeshaves, you can shape or smooth almost any inside or outside curve (think cabriole legs).
But for the majority of modern woodworkers, the spokeshave is an extraordinary substitute for an oscillating spindle sander. In the last decade, the rise of chairmaking classes has created a healthy demand for high-quality spokeshaves that work perfectly after only honing the cutter. To understand how these shaves differ from one another, you first need to know a bit about the mechanics of this type of tool. Historically, wooden-bodied spokeshaves have always had the bevel facing up, much like a block plane. The other type of shave has the bevel facing down against the work, much like a bench plane. With the metal-bodied shaves, there are two major types: those that have blade adjusters and those that don’t. But I suspect that the adjustment mechanism works this way to keep the tool simple to manufacture – the two-knob system is mechanically simpler than anything you’ll find on a bench plane. It’s worth noting that some vintage spokeshaves (especially those from the now-vanished Preston company) had a single adjustment knob for the iron. The best adjustment knobs have a tight fit between the shave’s iron and knobs, which gives you precise and immediate control of the iron. The bottom line is that the adjustment knobs do not improve the tool’s performance, but they are an immense convenience for beginners.

Of course, if your iron isn’t sharp you’re not going to make anything that resembles wispy. In general, spokeshave blades are shorter than plane blades and chisels, so they don’t fit in most honing guides you can buy.
Ultimately, the differences between the inexpensive tools and the premium ones came down to the raw materials used and the amount of precision machining on the tool. The more expensive tools had thicker irons that were made using A2 steel, an alloy that stays sharper longer. The biggest difference between the expensive and inexpensive tools was the machining – well-milled surfaces allow the tool’s parts to fit together snugly. And while it’s possible to soup up the inexpensive tools by altering the bed and replacing the iron and the cap iron, I consider that time and expense to be excessive. If money is the most important factor in your decision, I recommend you hunt the flea markets for a vintage Stanley 151 spokeshave or similar model. The Veritas Low-Angle Spoke­shave is ideal for chairmaking and work that requires shaping end grain.
When it comes to all-around performance, the Veritas and the Lie-Nielsen Boggs Spokeshaves are the best. The Veritas’s adjustment knobs make it easier for beginners to learn, but as I said earlier, the adjusters don’t ultimately improve performance.
Sure, those names represent different styles of furniture but, until you really begin to study them, you may not realize that the periods flow from one into another. Chests were simply boxes that sat on the ground or were on stump legs that were an integral part of the construction of the box. And though we may hate to admit it, we looked to England even after the American Revolution to find out how our homes should look. Perhaps because the furniture of those two periods was the furniture of our Founding Fathers.
We had established “civilized” colonies populated with craftsmen who were eager for new settlers to come and buy wares. From its torpedo-shaped holly and mahogany legs to the 80 holly dots that orbit the veneered top, Mario has designed a piece that pulls from Ruhlmann’s design dictionary of crisp rectangles, sinuous curves and lush materials – and shows you a few tricks of his own.
Frank demonstrates how this versatile traditional joint can be made by hand quicker than you think. Raney Nelson builds a Japanese-inspired lamp that showcases intricate kumiko, or latticework, along with a finish created by fire. Read about Jennie Alexander’s near-perfect chair and amazing journey that popularized green woodworking, in this profile by Christopher Schwarz.
Thanks to the tools’ long-lasting carbide inserts, I can focus on the shapes I want to produce instead of heading to the grinder or tweaking the lathe’s tool rest. Cosman developed the saw after teaching thousands of woodworkers to cut dovetails and having one bright idea while talking with his wife in bed. Workshop projects are a double bonus because you save money by building fixtures yourself, and then you save money and gain independence while using them. This one is quite compact, stores easily and mounts to the top of your workbench when needed. Finished on all sides, they could be placed anywhere in a room in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
I’m planning on a significant improvement to my after-dinner naps in the coming year. If she gets the right new sewing machine for Christmas we will probably do some online stuff about the cushions.
I know you do something similiar in your SketchUp video and it is probably the same operation just a different file extension. When I lay out mortises, I scribe one line only and let the width of the chisel (a hand chisel or a hollow-mortise one) make the other line. That’s because you have only one true face on your board when you are working by hand – so you need to mark out both cheeks of the tenon from one surface.
The result: You will have a definite and crisp step that you can see as you plane down to your line. You can retract one of the cutters out of the way so you can use it like a single-beam cutter. This book was one of the most influential books on woodworking at the beginning of my career.
You can refine virtually every part of a traditional chair: the outside of the seat, the curved arms, the spindles and the stretchers. You can shape any part on your band saw and then remove the marks left by the saw blade with your spokeshave. Until recently, there were only three types of shaves on the market: vintage wooden-bodied shaves that were used up or needed restoration, old metal-bodied shaves that needed restoration, or brand new metal-bodied shaves that needed major surgery before you could even learn to use them. Like all quality tools, these spokeshaves are considerably more expensive than the garden-variety tools.
There essentially are two major types of spokeshaves: those where the cutting bevel faces up toward the user and those where the cutting bevel faces down against the work. This created a low cutting angle (usually about 25°, depending on a variety of factors) that allowed the tool to move easily through the work and shave end grain with ease. But then Veritas, the manufacturing arm of Lee Valley Tools, created a hybrid shave with a cast aluminum body and a cutter with the bevel facing up.
With a hand plane, you generally have one knob that you turn to control the depth of your cut.
You can correct an edge that is out of square by increasing the depth of cut on only one side.
In my limited experience with these tools, I found them difficult to set for an even cut on both sides of the tool. A knob that spins freely before engaging the iron can result in serious backlash, which is when the iron gets pushed up into the body of the tool as you work. However, after learning an important trick (it helps to adjust the tool while it’s resting on a completely flat surface) and an hour of working with the shave, adjusting it becomes easier. You can sharpen these irons without a honing guide, but freehand sharpening is a skill that some woodworkers have yet to acquire. This ingenious little jig clamps into your honing guide and holds any spokeshave blade in place with a couple of strong magnets. The better tools are generally made from bronze or ductile iron, which is tough enough to withstand a fall from the bench without breaking. Less expensive tools have thinner irons made from high-carbon steel or other alloys that aren’t as durable as A2.

A precise fit between the tool, the iron and the cap iron results in a tool that will not chatter and is capable of taking a heavy cut with ease. This tool is a bit different in that the cap iron contacts the iron at more points than other tools. These two toolmakers have done everything right, so they both earn our Editor’s Choice awards. As you study the different styles you begin to see how each period builds on the one before it. And, while we took cues from England, the furniture from both periods had a distinctly American flair. And, although we added our own flair to the style, it still had a very distinct “English” look to it. Because most of the settlers were coming from England and other parts of Europe, they wanted to own things that were familiar to them, yet they wanted to distinguish themselves as Americans. We began the period with the side-hung drawers left over from earlier days and moved rapidly toward the paneled bottoms and bottom runners of the Queen Anne period.
More than 130 small pieces make up the latticework and Raney shows how a few clever jigs simplify the process. When I was young, I was the guy with the punk rock blaring and the messed-up clothes; the dog often ate my homework. If anything, the fact that Popular Woodworking Magazine has not published a router table plan for over four years makes us a little different. You might want to mix and match different design aspects to create your own unique router table.
These days Dan is a former online editor for Popular Woodworking, and is learning new skills every day. Can you send us some pictures or post them on our Facebook timeline when you have finished? And when you look closely at the cutters, you can see that the clever Canadians at Veritas were thinking hard and paying attention. This arrangement is useful for precision work when you want the bevels of the cutters to face the waste. The bearing surface of the fence is a bit oversized compared to many other metal gauges, which is nice. The surface left behind by a properly tuned shave is ready for finishing; you don’t even need to sand it. The problem is that the low cutting angle isn’t ideal for situations where the grain switches back on you – tear-out can be a real problem.
This makes the tool a little harder to push during the cut and makes it mostly useless for end-grain shaping.
Or you can set the tool to take a fine shaving on one side and a thick shaving on the other. Instead you set the depth of cut by applying slight pressure to the back of the iron while tightening the cap iron. Simply look down the sole of the tool with a light-colored surface in the background (many people use a sheet of paper). The less expensive tools are made using gray iron, which is more brittle and can crack if dropped onto a concrete floor from your bench. If any of those parts doesn’t mate with its neighbors, the tool will screech, skip over the wood and leave a rippled surface. The expensive tools have a fully machined bed, precisely milled irons and cap irons that are milled on the underside and where the shavings escape. The ornamentation began to change from the low-relief carving and applied half turnings to turned structural elements, pierced carvings and caning. But even the most devout fan of Jacobean furniture has to admit that the pieces made during the William & Mary period shifted design emphasis from a stiff, ecclesiastical design architecture to one that was much more inviting and gracious.
If we look at the design changes in chairs, tables and case pieces during this period, we can easily see how William & Mary furniture took major steps away from the Jacobean style and ran headlong toward the Queen Anne.
It deviated from its English counterparts in so many ways that it’s sometimes difficult to associate the two in the same context.
The router table in this book is a lot like the one that Norm Abram made famous, with drawers for your bits.
The beams pass through O-rings inside the head of the gauge, so when you release a beam to move it, the sucker doesn’t slide suddenly. To find out, we bought the current crop of metal-bodied shaves – both the inexpensive ones (Stanley, Kunz and Anant) and the premium brands (Veritas and Lie-Nielsen) – to compare them side-by-side. But if you pay close attention to the grain or you frequently shape end grain, these tools are great. But the higher cutting angle makes the tool less likely to tear-out in tricky grain situations (though it’s not perfect, either).
One controls the depth of cut on the right side of the tool; the other controls the cut on the left.
Increase the iron’s projection on both sides until you see it appear as a thin black line emerging from the sole.
These vintage tools were better made than the modern ones and generally require less tuning.
The choice of primary wood began to shift from oak to a wood that already had a deep, rich, dark color: walnut. There’s a lot more to it than that, much depends on the quality of the photo and finding places in the photo to measure with some degree of accuracy. Then retract the iron back into the tool’s body by turning the knobs counterclockwise the same amount. Especially if you’re a beginner who is just now building out your shop, I think you’ll find these very helpful. Lang, executive editor, as he shares his thoughts on how learning to read measured drawings and making your own cutlists will make you a better woodworker. Start making cuts on a scrap piece and advancing the iron on both sides in small, identical increments.

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