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JOEL Joel's Blog

Photo Blog: Moxon's Kiss


Photo Blog: Moxon's Kiss 1
Download a hi-res version of the above image here
The picture above from Joseph Moxon's "Mechanick Exercises" is one of the most iconic images in all of woodworking. It is the most complete extant image of 17th century woodworking tools, and it's been copied and promoted relentlessly. However, most of the images you have seen have been cleaned up, or are from later editions of the book. These images, however, are from 1678 when the joinery installment of what would become the book was printed for the first time. As this is a photo blog; you can read more about the book itself here. What I am trying to do in the images presented here is convey the tactile feel of a nearly three hundred and fifty year old book.

The way the pages for this book were made was by printing on hand made sheets of paper, which are composed of linen or hemp fibers floating in a tub of water. A wire mesh screen - the papermaker's mold - is dipped into the fibers, then the water drains out. Later more water is squeezed out in a press and finally the paper is air dried in a loft. You can easily see the traces of the wire screen in the paper, since the fibers are more thinly deposited. This type of paper is called laid paper. Unlike modern paper, or even better paper from the period, the paper here is thicker, rougher, and more uneven. In order for the engraving plate to print the tool image on the paper, great pressure needs to be exerted on the paper by the plate. All around the plate we get a slight indentation from that process, something that printers call "The Kiss." For me, the tactile feel of the paper, the kiss, and the way the ink soaks into the paper are collectively the link to history and the past. I hope these images convey at least so of that emotion.

The pictures in this blog are in medium resolution. If you like the pictures, feel free to click on the links to download pretty high res versions (for up to about a 14" printed picture) for your own personal use. The pictures also might make a nice screen saver or the like.

Response to these images has been great! If you have the urge for a larger print of any of the pictures in the photo blog series, the source material I have can be used to print even larger images - up to 36" - than the free download file size. Click here for available prints. Large prints of tools might go really well in an office or business settings. I certainly would find tools are more interesting to look at than yet another picture of a the New York skyline (not that it isn't lovely).

Photo Blog: Moxon's Kiss 2
Download a hi-res version of the above image here
Join the conversation
09/18/2022 Willy from Freville
Thank you!
09/18/2022 Dan Moerman
Fascinating. Particularly the planes. Persuades me to make one!
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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.