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JOEL Joel's Blog

Period Pieces


Period Pieces 4
The single greatest magazine ever written for Do-it-yourselfers was WORK An Illustrated Magazine of Practice and Theory for all Workmen, Professional and Amateur
In England, beginning in 1889, every two weeks you got a 16 page magazine crammed with advice, tips, and stuff to do. The projects ranged from the mundane - making a rabbit hutch, all the way to building things like carriages. Unlike today where modern magazines usually contain only a few projects accompanied by a blow by blow description of the construction, "Work" just gave you the basics, but had tons of projects in each issue. The style was made possible by basic drawings, and a simple build sequence only. Here is a link to an old issue on Google books and you can see all the crazy stuff you can build.

What killed the magazine was most probably the age of specialization. by the early 20th century specialty magazine such as the Model Engineer or The Woodworker split up the generalist market and this style of magazine faded away. In the US Popular Mechanics was one of the few magazines that tried to retain it's generalist nature.

One of the Editors of Work Magazine, Paul Hasluck, took lots of the articles, many of the authors (some like George Ellis, still well known today as major writers on woodworking), and put out some of the best compendiums of craft ever. We reprinted Carpentry and Joinery Illustrated and I don't think there ever has been another book as comprehensive on architectural woodworking.

We just mailed out a mini catalog. It's only sixteen pages , just a short something for fun. Its inspiration was old catalogs and old woodworking magazines. We had fun with this and it's basically the catalog we would be printing if we were around in 1910. Inside the book we decided to put in a few pages of plans from "Work" for a workbench, a sled, and a purfling cutter. Another thing in the catalog is a couple of pages of isometric drafting paper, which is awfully useful for sketching. If you didn't get a copy - and I am sorry but we will not be doing any more mailings - you can download the mini catalog and all the Work plans here and the isometric paper here. We have also added new menu items in the Knowledge section for both topics.

Incidentally our new hammers, shown below after filing and polishing are at the hardeners and we are mostly on schedule for end of year delivery (hopefully before Christmas but "there is many a slip between cup and lip"). We get asked about mortise chisel availability for the holiday - Maybe, but it looks touch and go.

Period Pieces 5
Join the conversation
11/29/2011 joe G
To quote Bart Simpson, "Au Contraire Mon Frere". Without disparaging "Work", I would submit the end-all-be-all DIY magazine is being published today.


You will hear the DIY angels sing!
11/29/2011 Dennis
Maybe you and I and the readers of this blog would appreciate WORK, but the vast majority of today's public lacks the appreciation and understanding of craftsmanship to make heads or tails of it. The reason so many magazines publish the tedious "blow-by-blow" plans is because the readership requires them. The audience in 1889 was, of necessity, much more familiar with the DIY mindset. Most simply had no other options. They knew how to swing a hammer, cut to line with whatever saw they could get their hands on, and plane a surface smooth(ish) and assemble a workable piece of furniture. Of course the professionals of that day could do all those tasks, and more, in their sleep. I've done simple projects for friends that watch the process and the results like they're some kind of magic.
11/29/2011 Bill H
I just had to say congratulations and well done on the catalog. I count myself lucky to have received it.
great post-;) the new mini catalog is wonderful and the Gramercy tools work sooo well in that style. Fantastic job. Thanks for the isometric paper download as well- very good idea.
all the best in the coming Holiday Season.
11/29/2011 Ron Jones
Thanks for the information on the Work publication. The new catalog is quite nice to look through. The inclusion of the isometric graph is appreciated. While the idea is simple, there may be some out there not adapt at drawing/drafting that might find these graph paper exercises from NELSON MATHS FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA, BOOK 1 useful.
11/29/2011 Brander "Badger" Roullett
I loved the catalog, that was so well done.
11/29/2011 Bart Hovis
I received the catalog yesterday - I love it and it will be added to my permanent collection.
11/30/2011 Bill McCaffrey
I am still admiring your catalog and it has already brought me good luck! Several family members saw me admiring it and I saw them copying the website down and heard the words "gift certificate". It will be a good Christmas.
11/30/2011 Barry Burke
More kudos on the catalog!

I really enjoyed the style and feel, it's way beyond what we normally see.
12/02/2011 Marge
Catalog was great and most appreciated
12/04/2011 Mary
This catalog has a place on the coffee table, at least until after the holidays.
12/04/2011 McKay Sleight
Well, I am truly jealous! I did not get one (mailer). But that is ok because I still whack the Gramercy holdfasts with a great amount of affection. I am saving my pennies for the saw vice so I guess that it is a good thing NOT to get the mailer as I would have spent some of my cash that I am saving.
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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.
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