Jane Rees Practical techniques

How to use sash templates, or ‘templets’

A matching sash plane and templet by Moir & Co., Glasgow (1836-75), from the collection of Jane Rees.
A matching sash plane and templet by Moir & Co., Glasgow (1836-75), from the collection of Jane Rees.

For some time now, I been drawn to the idea of making traditional box sash windows using mainly hand tools. By ‘traditional’, I mean sticking the mouldings of the glazing bars with sash planes, rebating the stiles and meeting rails and chopping out all the mortise and tenons by hand.
One thing that has always confused me. Even though I have now found some excellent sash planes, I still wondered how craftsmen used to mitre the cross joints so accurately.
During bits of research on the internet, I’ve come across some excellent resources, such as this pdf from Tim Nott.
However, some tools that kept cropping up in 18thc-19thc information, was the use of sash templates, or ‘templets’. I sent a query to Brian Read at the excellent Tools and Trades History Society, asking of he knew of anyone who could show me how to use these and perhaps I could photograph a slideshow. (This enquiry applies to anyone else who also happens to read this post. I live in London and would still very much like to watch a joiner who can show me these in use.)
Brian was very helpful and forwarded my request to Jane Rees, who many readers will be familiar with, from her and her late husband’s excellent books about vintage tools.
Jane came back with some great info. To start with, if you were making sash using a template, you would have been expected to have a matching plane, to make a perfect profile to drop into the template. This I didn’t know.
One style of sash templets, (showing brass bound ends).
One style of sash templets, (showing brass bound ends).

Another style of sash templet. I have seen many more of this style, but the use of this pair would be somewhat compromised by that lack of matching plane.
Another style of sash templet. I have seen many more of this style, but the use of this pair would be somewhat compromised by that lack of matching plane.

A photograph of the sash plane page from the Alex. Mathieson ca, 1919 catalogue. (Image kindly supplied by Jane Rees).
A photograph of the sash plane page from the Alex. Mathieson ca, 1919 catalogue. (Image kindly supplied by Jane Rees).

Jane supplied me with some of her pictures showing a matched plane with template, some templates of different styles on their own and also a superb pdf of an article Jane wrote for the Construction History Society (which was later reprinted by the Early American Industries Association). You can download a pdf of the article here (3.22mb).

Once you have a profile that has been cut to for the inside of your template, you can work on mitring, or coping the end of it. Mick Dowling of the HTPAA shed some light on this for me:

The components of a sash are the top and bottom rails, the left and right stiles, and the glazing bars.
If you look at a sash from within the building the intersections of the
moulded part of these components (the fancy shaped bit, lambs tongue for example) appear to be mitred, but are in fact coped. Similar to the way the intersection of skirting boards (the board in a room at the base of wall) in an internal corner looks to be mitred, but is one piece of timber cut to fit (coped) over the adjacent piece.
Coping is particularly the case where glazing bars meet the stiles or rails.
I’ve worked on windows as old as the 1860s and have seen stile/rail
intersections that are simply mitred.
Scribing templates are either double sided to fit over the glazing bar, or
single sided for use on the stiles or rails.
With either of those types there are 2 variations. The ones with brass tips
are square on the end and are used with a coping chisel, and the type that is cut on a 45 is used for marking with a pencil or scribe and cutting out the waste with a coping saw.
Sometimes the single sided ones are screwed together to make a template that fits over the glazing bar. Might have been made that way.

If you’re slightly confused about glazing bars and which way round they face, take a look at an excellent write-up on Zach Dillinger’s blog. He shows you how a sash fillister is used when working on the outer rebates where the glazing would sit. A great page which will explain things much easier than I could do!

(Added 05/10/2014)
David Nelson, a reader of the blog from the US, has kindly sent me a digital copy of his excellent guide ‘English Sash Planes’ and kindly allowed me to add a link to the blog for people to download it. Well worth a read.
You can download a pdf of the article here (11.37mb).


My dad’s toolbox

Months ago, I was asked by a photographer friend of mine, Joakim Blockstrom, to contribute to his ‘Heirloom Project’. Joakim photographs heirlooms, special things that have been passed down through families and that have a special meaning to the person now in possession of them.
I asked that he photographed my father’s toolbox, which strikes a very personal note with me. Yesterday in the Guardian newspaper, the project rightly got more recognition, when the newspaper published some of the entries in it’s Family section. Here’s a link if you’d like to see some of the entries and read about the project.
For me, making something that is good enough for your family to use every day, goes right to the heart of what heirlooms are. That home-made piece of furniture, with all it’s quirks, maybe a few mistakes. Years on, hopefully it’s still surviving, but with the added patina of use, the wear from everyone’s bum, the lost paint from the inevitable knocks. Then one day someone asks, ‘do you want this? We don’t use it enough any more’. And the reply, ‘yes, of course, I remember when dad made that’

People Practical techniques Restoration Tool Makers

A good reference

I’m back in London after sweating it out in Austria for two weeks in 40 degree heat. I welcomed London rain like a long-lost friend. During an hour on the laptop, hiding from the worst of the heat, I found the blog of one ‘Jack Plane’ called Pegs & Tails. Well worth a visit, especially if you are interested in 17th-18th century furniture, the blog is a mine of excellent information.

I also found this this excellent bibliography on the site. Mostly reference for furniture makers, but other good subjects too.

ANDREWS, John, British Antique Furniture, Antique Collectors Club, 1970-2005.
BARDER, Richard, The Georgian Bracket Clock, 1714-1830, Antique Collectors’ Club, 1999.
BEARD, Geoffrey, Upholsterers and Interior Furnishing in England, 1530-1840, Yale University Press, 1997.
BEBB, Richard J., Welsh Furniture 1250-1950 – A Cultural History of Craftsmanship and Design, Saer Books, 2007.
BERG, Maxine, Luxury and Pleasure in Eighteenth-Century Britain, Oxford University Press, 2005.
BOWETT, Adam, Early Georgian Furniture 1715-1740, Antique Collectors’ Club, 2009.
BOWETT, Adam, English Furniture from Charles II to Queen Anne, Antique Collectors’ Club, 1999.
BRAWER, Nicholas A., British Campaign Furniture: Elegance Under Canvas, 1740-1914, Harry N. Abrams, 2001.
BROOKE, Iris and LAVER, James, English Costume from the Seventeenth Through the Nineteenth Centuries, Dover Publications.
BROWN, John, Welsh Stick Chairs, Stobart Davies, 1999.
BUTTER, Francis J., Locks and Lockmaking, Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd, 1926.
CESCINSKY, Herbert, English Domestic Clocks, Antique Collectors Club, 1976.
CLABBURN, Pamela, The National Trust Book of Furnishing Textiles, Penguin, 1988.
COOKE, Edward S. ed., Upholstery in America and Europe from the Seventeenth Century to World War I, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1987.
COTTON, Bernard D., The English Regional Chair, Antique Collectors’ Club, 1999. CRISPIN, Thomas, The English Windsor Chair, Alan Sutton Publishing, Stroud, 1992.
CRUNDEN, John, The Joyner and Cabinet-Maker’s Darling, or Pocket Director. Containing, Sixty Different Designs, […], Gale Ecco, 2010.
EDWARDS, Clive, Encyclopedia of Furniture Materials, Trades and Techniques, Ashgate Publishing, 2001.
EDWARDS, Clive D., Eighteenth Century Furniture, Manchester University Press, 1997. EDWARDS, Dr. Clive, et al, British Furniture: 1600-2000, The Intelligent Layman Publishers Ltd., 2006.
EDWARDS, Ralph, The Early Georgian Period 1714-1760, The Connoisseur, 1963.
EDWARDS, Ralph and RAMSEY, L.G.G., The Late Georgian Period, 1760-1810, The Connoisseur, 1961.
EDWARDS, Ralph, The Shorter Dictionary of English Furniture from the Middle Ages to the Late Georgian Period, Country Life, 1983.
ESTERLY, David, Grinling Gibbons & the Art of Carving, V & A Publishing, London, 2013.
EVELYN, John, A discourse of forest-trees, and the propagation of timber in His Majesty’s dominions, as it was delivered in The Royal society, on the 15th of October 1662, third edition, volume 1, 1801.
FASTNEDGE, Ralph, Sheraton Furniture, Faber and Faber, 1962.
FILBEE, Marjorie, Dictionary of Country Furniture, Hearst Books, 1977.
FISKE, John and FREEMAN, Lisa, Living With Early Oak, The Belmont Press, 1999.
GARNIER-PELLE, Nicole, FORRAY-CARLIER, Anne, and ANSELM, Marie-Christine, The Monkeys of Christophe Huet: Singeries in French Decorative Arts, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2011.
GENTLE, Rupert and FEILD, Rachael; GENTLE, Belinda ed., Domestic Metalwork, 1640-1820, Antique Collectors’ Club Ltd., 2nd Revised edition, 1999.
GILBERT, Christopher, English Vernacular Furniture, 1750-1900, Yale University Press, 1991.
GILBERT, Christopher, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture, W.S. Maney & Son Ltd., 1996.
GILBERT, Christopher, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, Tabard Press, 1978.
GILBERT, Christopher and MURDOCK, Tessa (eds.), John Channon and Brass-Inlaid Furniture, 1730-1760, Yale University Press, 1994.
GIROUARD, Mark, Life in the English Country House: A Social and Architectural History, Yale University Press, 1993.
GLIN, The Knight of, and PEILL, James, Irish Furniture, Yale University Press, 2007.
GOODISON, Nicholas, Ormolu: the work of Matthew Boulton, Phaidon Press, London, 1974.
GRIMWADE, Arthur G., London Goldsmiths 1697-1837 Their Marks & Lives, Faber & Faber, London, 1990.
HALL, Linda J. and ALCOCK, N.W., Fixtures and Fittings in Dated Houses, 1567-1763, Council for British Archaeology, 1994.
HARDING-HILL, Michael, Windsor Chairs: An Illustrated Celebration, Antique Collectors’ Club, 1999.
HARRIS, Nathaniel, Chippendale, Booksales, 1989.
HEAL, Sir Ambrose, London Furniture Makers: From the Restoration to the Victorian Era, 1660-1840, David & Charles, 1989.
HEFFORD, Wendy, The Victoria and Albert Museum’s Textile Collection, Design for Printed Textiles in England from 1750 to 1850, Abbeville Press, 1992.
HINCKLEY, F. Lewis, Queen Anne and Georgian Looking Glasses, Tauris Antiques Press, 1990.
HUTH, Hans, Lacquer of the West – The History of a Craft and an Industry 1550-1950, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1971.
INCE, William and MAYHEW, John, Authentic Georgian Furniture Designs: Universal System of Household Furniture, Dover Publications, 1999.
JAFFER, Amin, Furniture from British India and Ceylon, V & A Publications, 2001.
JELLINEK, Tobias, Early British Chairs and Seats From 1500 to 1700, Antique Collectors’ Club, 2009.
JONES, Yvonne, Japanned Papier Mâché and Tinware c.1740-1940, Antique Collectors’ Club, 2012.
KINMONTH, Claudia, Irish Country Furniture, 1700-1950, Yale University Press, 1995.
KIRKHAM, Pat, The London Furniture Trade 1700-1870, The Furniture History Society, 1988.
KNELL, David, English Country Furniture: 1500-1900, Antique Collectors Club, 2000.
LEVI, Jonathan and YOUNG, Robert, Treen for the Table, Antique Collectors’ Club, 1998.
MANWARING, Robert, The cabinet and chair-maker’s real friend & companion; Or, The whole system of chair-making made plain and easy, Alec Tiranti, 1947.
McQUOID, Percy, A History of English Furniture Including The Age of Oak, The Age of Walnut, The Age of Mahogany, The Age of Satinwood, Bracken Books, 1988.
MOXON, Joseph, The Art of Joinery, Midwinter & Leigh, 1703.
MURDOCH, Dr. Tessa, Noble Households – Eighteenth Century Inventories of Great English Houses, John Adamson, 2006.
MUSSON, Jeremy, English Manor Houses: From the Archives of Country Life, Aurum Press, 2007.
OLSEN, Kirstin, Daily Life in 18th-Century England, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999.
O’REILLY, Sean, Irish Houses and Gardens: From the Archives of Country Life, Aurum Press, 2008.
PARKER, Michael St. John, Life in Georgian Britain, Pitkin Guides, 2000.
PICKFORD, Ian, ed., Jackson’s Silver & Gold Marks of England, Scotland & Ireland, Antique Collectors’ Club, third edition, 1991.
PINN, Keith, Paktong The Chinese Alloy in Europe 1680 – 1820, Antique Collectors Club, 1999.
PORTER, Roy, English Society in the Eighteenth Century, Penguin, 2001.
PRICE, Bernard, The Story Of English Furniture, Ariel Books, 1983.
RAMOND, Pierre, Marquetry, revised, Getty Publications, 2003.
RICCARDI-CUBITT, Monique, The Art of the Cabinet, Thames and Hudson, 1992.
ROBINSON, John Martin, The Regency Country House: From the Archives of Country Life, Aurum Press, 2008.
SHEARER, Thomas, Cabinetmaker’s London Book of Prices, Brown & O’Neil, 1793.
SHERATON, Thomas, The Cabinet Dictionary, W. Smith, 1803.
SIMON, Constance, English Furniture Designers of the Eighteenth Century (1905), Kessinger Publishing, 2009.
SNODIN, Michael and STYLES, John, Georgian Britain 1714-1837 (V&A’s Design & the Decorative Arts, Britain 1500-1900), V & A Publications, 2004.
STALKER, John and PARKER, George, A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing, Alec Tiranti, 1998.
STUART, Susan E., Gillows of Lancaster and London, Antique Collectors’ Club, 2008.
SYMONDS, R.W., Masterpieces of English Furniture and Clocks, Studio Editions, 1986.
SYMONDS, R.W., Old English Walnut & Lacquer Furniture, Herbert Jenkins Ltd., London, 1923.
SYMONDS, R.W., The Ornamental Designs of Chippendale, Alec Tiranti, 1949.
THE LONDON SOCIETY OF CABINET-MAKERS, The Cabinet-makers London Book of Prices, 1788.
WAINWRIGHT, Clive, George Bullock Cabinet Maker, J. Murray, H. Blairman & Sons, London, 1988.
WHITE, Elizabeth, Dictionary of British Eighteenth Century Furniture Design, Antique Collectors’ Club, 1991.
WHITTINGTON, S. and CLAXTON STEVENS, C., Eighteenth Century English Furniture: Norman Adams Collection, Antique Collectors’ Club, 1999.
WILLS, Geoffrey, English Looking Glasses, A.S. Barnes and Co., 1965.
YPMA, Herbert J. M., Irish Georgian, Thames & Hudson, 1998.