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To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry

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Roubo on Marquetry
by André -Jacob Roubo

Another landmark classic by Lost Art Press!

Marquetry, the art of covering a carcass with a pattern made by assembling wood pieces into a design, reached its technical, and possibly its artistic peak in France just before the Revolution in 1789. Fortunately for later generations, Andre Roubo, a young cabinetmaker with an observant eye, got a commission to write a book on the technical details of the art. The original, written in French and published from 1769 - 1774 is the most comprehensive volume about all facets of high end woodworking ever written. Donald C. Williams, , Michele Pietryka-Pagán & Philippe Lafargue have taken the volume on marquetry and related arts and translated the original French into English, reproduced all the myriad of illustrations in the text, and added a fair amount of explanatory commentary of their own. Finally after over two centuries of waiting, this landmark book is accessible to the English speaking world. This is a seminal book with no peer in the subject. The book is like learning songwriting from the Beatles, showmanship from P. T. Barnum, and sheriffing from Wyatt Earp himself.

In addition to the ins and outs of marquetry, parquetry, and the related fields this volume contains lots of general information and techniques on many areas of hand tool woodworking. Lost Art Press is planning to translate the rest of the original series in the future. For now let's concentrate on the depth of information available in this book.

If you already do marquetry this book is chock full of the ins and outs on techniques that will take your work to a whole new level. If you have never even contemplated doing marquetry this book will inspire you and explain how those museum furniture pieces that make us so jealous were made. In all cases the additional content on materials, tools, and basic technique will be eye-opening. For example, in addition to veneering and marquetry there are sections on grinding, sharpening, wood selection, finishing, staining, a German workbench, clock-case construction, engraving and casting brass hardware.

Also included is an introduction by W. Patrick Edwards of the American School of French Marquetry, a biography of Roubo and a complete index.

Hardcover, 264 pages. Printed in the USA on #60-pound acid-free paper. Smythe sewn for durability. Profusely illustrated with beautiful reproductions of all the original illustrations. Also included are photographs to illustrate some of the commentary. 8-1/2” x 12”.

The table of contents begins underneath the book photographs
note: * sections are modern additions.
  • Forward*
  • Translator's Note*
  • Preface*
  • A Key to the Art*
  • Section I.
    • The Different Woods Appropriate for Cabinetry
    • Description of the Woods of the Indies, and Their Qualities, Relative to Cabinetmaking
    • Alphabetic Table of the Foreign Woods
    • Why Not Dalbergisterie?*
    • Descriptions of French Wood Appropriate for Cabinetry
    • Colors in general, and the Woods from the Indies and from France with Regards to their different colors and their nuances
    • The different Compositions of Dyes appropriate for dyeing Woods, and how to use them
  • Section II.
    • On the sawing of Wood appropriate for Cabinetmaking
    • On Sawing Veneer*
    • Description of Cabinetmakers’ Tools
  • Section III.
    • The Frames [Cases] appropriate to receive Veneerwork, and how to prepare them and construct them
    • Of Simple Parquetry, or the Composing of it in General
    • The Parqueteur’s Tool Kit*
    • Section I.
      • The diverse sorts of Compositions in general: some detail and the Arrangement of wood veneer
      • Various sorts of Compositions, straight as well as circular
      • Make Banding With Roubo’s Template Blocks*
      • The manner of cutting and adjusting the pieces so they are straight, and the proper Tools
      • Cutting and Assembling Cubic Hexagons
      • The manner of cutting curved pieces, and the tools that are appropriate
      • The 18th-century Shoulder Knife*
    • Section II.
      • The manner of gluing and veneering Marquetry
      • Why Does Hammer Veneering Work? And How Can it be Made Better?*
    • Section III.
      • The way to finish Veneer Work, and some different types of polish
      • Finishing Marquetry*
      • Ornate Cabinetry, Called Mosaic Or Painted Wood, An Overview
      • Section I.
        • Elementary principles of Perspective, which knowledge is absolutely necessary for Cabinetmakers
      • Section II.
        • On the manner of cutting out, shading and inlaying Ornaments of wood
        • The way to engrave and finish wooden Ornaments
      • Section III.
        • How to represent Flowers, Fruits, Pastures and Figures in wood
        • Floral Marquetry*
      • On the Third Type of (Veneered) Cabinetry in General
        • Section I.
        • Description of the different materials that one uses in the construction of the third type of veneered Cabinetry
        • On the Nature of Tortoiseshell
        • Mastic and ‘Mastic’*
        • Section II.
        • Works for which one uses the third type of Cabinetmaking
        • Section III.
        • How to work the different materials that are used in the construction of Marquetry, like Shell, Ivory, Horn, etc.
        • Section IV.
          • The manner of constructing Inlay and finishing it
          • I. General Idea of the different types of Mosaic
          • Metal Casting*
          • II. Ornaments in Bronze in general
          • III. The way to solder the Metals which one uses for different works of Cabinetry
          • IV. Description and practice of a Varnish appropriate to varnish and gild copper and other metals
      • Conclusion to the Art of Woodworking
      • Appendix: André-Jacob Roubo*
      • Index*

      Pages: 247
      Binding: HC
      Publisher: Lost Art Press

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