Carving Grinling Gibbons

Grinling Gibbons (St James church, Piccadilly)

A day of contrasts. A visit to Soho, central London today. A long, boozy lunch, the sort of lunch that would have been commonplace in the 80’s, with an enjoyable talk with a friend about the state of publishing, ideas for new ventures and a catch up about shared colleagues. Them taking advantage of the location, and with the need to slightly sober up, I walked down to St.James church in Piccadilly, to see the Grinling Gibbons carvings I’d read about in David Esterly’s book.
Words can’t really express how amazing this work is, so I won’t even try. Some better pics than my poor phone pictures, can be seen on Flickr here.

Charles Hayward

Charles Hayward, editor.

My ‘other life’ is in publishing. Magazine publishing to be exact. Over the years, I’ve earned a crust as a designer/art director on several blue-chip titles, and I continue to design both print magazines, books and increasingly, digital titles. I’d like to think I know a thing or two about how content needs to be designed to be readable, informative and interesting.

Recently, my woodworking and publishing worlds collided, when I stumbled on the ‘Woodworker Handbooks’ series of books by Charles Hayward. The series was first published by Evans Brothers Limited in 1950. I’ve started collecting the reprints from 1960, the hardbacks with black bands on the covers. Several publishers re-printed the titles later on, but I have heard they were considerably ‘dumbed down’, after the 70’s. I am so impressed with these books from the 60’s though, the quality of their information and the way they have been designed. Charles Hayward’s text explains each process so fantastically well, I decided to research this man a bit more.

Charles Hayward probably served some sort of carpentry apprenticeship before the 1914-1918 war, as at that time he joined the Royal Artillery. After the war, he joined ‘The Woodworker’ magazine (published by Evans Brothers), as an assistant to the editor.

When war erupted again in 1939, he was not a participant in it, but when war was declared the editor of ‘The Woodworker’ fled to a remote part of Scotland, never to be heard of again. Thus Hayward became editor of ‘The Woodworker’ and took the magazine from strength to strength.

Post-war, Hayward had assistant editors, but the magazine was created primarily around his own vision. All the ideas for projects in the magazine were his own. The pieces in the magazine were almost certainly made in his own workshop. In the Evans Brothers building he had a photographic studio with a workbench which he used when photographing constructional details. The finished projects were photographed using s small 2″ x 2″ plate camera. In a small darkroom he developed the plates and made enlargements.

I'm very fortunate in that the college holds good reference for 'The Woodworker'.
I’m very fortunate in that the college holds good reference for ‘The Woodworker’.

One of the compilation annuals, holding re-prints of that years copies of 'The Woodworker'.
One of the compilation annuals, holding re-prints of that years copies of ‘The Woodworker’.

Really excellent articles explaining how to do things properly, before people had routers!. These articles really are quite enlightening.
Really excellent articles explaining how to do things properly, before people had routers!. These articles really are quite enlightening.

With a bit of patience and a home-made scratch stock, the world really is your oyster.
With a bit of patience and a home-made scratch stock, the world really is your oyster.

The drawings, both technical and illustrative, were also his own work. He then wrote the text. It is an extraordinary feat to produce a magazine in this way. He was virtually a one-man publisher.

As well as running the magazine almost single-handedly, he found time to write the textbooks I recently stumbled on. The books, I think, used visuals and text already shot for the magazine, and would have needed again to be edited for the book format, meaning a whole lot more work.

So far, I have found ‘Carpentry for Beginners’, Cabinet Making for Beginners’ and ‘Woodwork Joints’, all of which I think are superb.









In the series I’m collecting, I think I still have another nine or ten to find. I would recommend them highly, if you’re an amateur woodworker, like me.

Frost & Barrett Griffiths H.Griffiths & Son

From the tool chest of Mr.S Harrington, cabinet maker.

You never quite know what you’ll find, when you open up an old tool box.

I purchased a tool chest recently, from a family member of a ‘Mr.S Harrington’. A lot of Mr.Harrington’s tools were stamped with his name, but one of the most interesting finds was buried right at the bottom of the chest, covered in dust. I love that Mr. Harrington kept receipts for such a number of the tools he purchased during his career. Here are some of the receipts, they make for interesting reading, in that beautiful copperplate writing of the age. What must it have been like to be served in such an establishment as ‘Frost & Barrett’, or ‘H.Griffiths & Son’, quite different to the service one receives these days, I expect.

Oo-er, looks like a visit from Mr.Frost is on the cards!

‘Iron for 2″ Stanley Shave with Hole’. Interesting that this receipt is from another location, ‘H.Griffiths & Co’. I also have a lot of moulding planes from Griffiths of Norwich, which were in Mr Harrington’s tool chest.

I would love to know which one of these chaps might be Mr S.Harrington, if indeed he is one of them.

If anyone can tell me which church this work was done for, I’d be really interested to know. Thank you.


We’ll miss you, General Woodwork Supplies!

General Woodwork Supplies
One of my favourite local shops closed on Saturday, General Woodwork Supplies of Stoke Newington. The finest shop in the area for timber, ironmongery and every screw, fixing and widget on the planet. I’ll leave it to the more-than-capable Spitalfields Life to give you the history, (very pleased the “Gentle Author’ covered this one).

The last thing I personally got from the store was hardwood, for replacement treads on the stairs in my old Victorian house. Realising I’d left things late (with three old stairs already knocked out), I asked Michael if he could cut up nine treads within the hour for pick up. ‘No problem’, he said.

They were waiting for me when I got back, (10 minutes early). Proper service, proper gents!

Matthew Bickford

‘Mouldings in Practice’ by Matthew Bickford

In summary from the Lost Art Blog, Chris Schwarz talks about the upcoming book :

During the past 14 months, Matt and I have been working to make “Mouldings in Practice” into a book that is accessible for even the beginning hand-tool woodworker. It uses more than 200 color illustrations and dozens of photos to explain how to lay out, prepare for and cut any moulding you can draw.

The first half of the book is focused on how to make the tools function, including the tools that help the hollow and round planes – such as the plow and the rabbet. Matt also covers snipes bills and side rounds so you know their role in making mouldings. Once you understand how rabbets and chamfers guide the rounds and chamfers, Matt shows you how to execute the mouldings for eight very sweet Connecticut River Valley period projects using photos and step-by-step illustrations and instruction.

This book is, by far, the most complex thing we have published here at Lost Art Press, thanks to the hundreds of illustrations, photographs and geometry involved. Like all our books, “Mouldings in Practice” has been produced entirely in the United States. It has color illustrations with black-and-white photos, and it is printed on #60 white uncoated and acid-free paper. The pages are Smythe sewn to last a long time. And the book is hardbound and covered with cotton. Old school.