• by hand and eye

    By Hand & Eye

    “No divining past this point”

    This is the sign on the door that greets students as they arrive for our “By Hand & Eye” design workshop based on the book of the same name which I wrote with George Walker. (Visit the Port Townsend School of Woodworking website for more information.) For these students (and for George and I), one of the most appealing and exciting things about the book’s pre-industrial artisan’s approach to furniture design (as opposed to the typical and ubiquitous Industrial Arts approach) is the absence of mathematics. For many would-be woodworkers measuring to – and deriving divisions or multiples of – fractional dimensions and numbered angles is a huge stumbling block. It takes the fun right out of it in fact! That, and the effort of coming up with proportions – from the overall shape of the piece to the size of its internal elements such as rails and stiles, legs and drawer faces.

    But in the artisan’s language of design and layout, if you can count to 12 and divide it up into whole-number ratios (and “12” is very amenable to these operations compared to “10,” by the way), you pretty much have a handle on all the math you’ll need to design anything from a cradle to a coffin to any furnishing in between. All the proportions needed to create durable and appealing wooden structures spring quickly and intuitively from a single dimension that responds to a functional constraint (you can only lift a pot of soup so high to put on a serving credenza) or to fit a certain space – as was the situation with my last project.

    The design language present in “By Hand and Eye” is not about magical rectangles; it’s not about arithmetic derivations; and no, it’s not about working to prescriptive formulas, either. It’s just an immersion in a simple, generative geometry that is just as much fun to do now as it was when you first met up with it in first grade! Welcome to the real (and reasonable) world of rational (i.e. able-to-ratio) numbers.

    Signed copies are available through Jim for $34 with media shipping. Add $5 for 2nd Day USPS. Payment can be made through a PayPal invoice or you can send a check.

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    The New Traditional Woodworker

    Free of the clouds of dust and the ear-piercing noise of machines, you can experience woodworking as it was experienced prior to the machine age. This book includes excellent instruction from a best-selling woodworking author on all aspects of woodworking with hand tools. He approaches setting up the all-hand tool shop, explains how the tools work in wood, addresses the joinery, and finishes with instructions on building a workshop accessory to use with hand tools. Also included are other sample projects and information on finishing the hand-worked projects. The author also has video vignettes to further amplify the learning process that can be used as web site content.

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    Jim Tolpin's Woodworking: Wit & Wisdom

    With more than 30 years of professional woodworking experience, Jim Tolpin has a wealth of hard-earned knowledge to make life in the workshop easier. Here he shares all his best tips, tricks and secrets for helping beginners and advanced woodworkers reach a whole new level of craftsmanship. Readers will appreciate: Insider knowledge and entertaining anecdotes from a popular author - all perfectly paired with humorous illustrations; Answers to age-old questions: Is a large or small workshop better? Are top-of-the-range tools worth the price? Countless woodworking shortcuts and techniques along with guidelines for when and when not to use them; Reading this book is like having an expert woodworker stop by the shop for the day - fun, exciting and rewarding! It's the kind of advice that makes every project easier.

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    Building Traditional Kitchen Cabinets

    First published in 1994, this book quickly established itself as the standard shop reference on building kitchen cabinets. It covers all aspects of building a complete set of cabinets, from choosing a style for doors, to laying out the cabinets, to finishing and installing convenience hardware in the interiors.

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    The New Cottage Home

    It takes only a drive through any typical American subdivision to confirm that in recent decades the average house has grown in size, narrowed in style, and shrunk in vision. Jim Tolpin's The New Cottage Home represents a return to a previous school of thought about living space: that it should be no larger than is needed, conservative of resources, rich in detail-- in short, that it should pay homage to honest architecture and fine craftsmanship, not to conspicuous consumption. These are the houses that seem to call as much to the heart as to the head, enriching us more with the highs of nature than with the highs of technology. These are the new American cottages that embody the ancient storybook dream, and the kind of homes that many of us have always dreamed of living in.

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    Built-in Furniture

    Readers will be inspired by this series of visual ideas for some of the most-used rooms in the house. Each book is rich with beautiful color photographs, practical sidebars -- and designs of all kinds that will appeal to a wide range of tastes and budgets.

    Best-selling author Jim Tolpin explores new ways to design and construct built-in furniture throughout the home. Includes design ideas for window seats, benches, bookcases, storage cabinets -- even entertainment centers.

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    The Toolbox Book

    In this guided tour of some of the world's best tool-storage solutions, you'll learn how the toolbox evolved as an essential tool and how the site boxes of today have their roots in long-ago journeyman's tool chests. But this book also provides practical advice on how to develop a tool-storage strategy of your own. Jim Tolpin guides you through creating an individual tool storage system best suited to your needs - from planning, through selection of materials, construction and finishing (including special situations like waterproofing the lid of a box intended for a job site).

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    Finish Carpenter's Manual

    In this book you'll find everything you need to know to be a finish carpenter: assessing a job before you begin, and tricks of the trade from a master finish carpenter. Easy-to-follow instructions for installing doors and windows, ceiling treatments (including fancy beams, corbels, cornices and moldings), wall treatments (including wainscoting and sheet paneling), and the finishing touches of chair, picture, and plate rails. Specialized interior work includes cabinetry and built-ins, stair finish work, and closets. Also covers exterior trims and porches.

    Includes manhour tables for finish work, and hundreds of illustrations and photos.

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    Working Wood

    This is the complete bench-top resource of tools, techniques and tips for working with wood. Whether woodworking is your hobby or profession, Working Wood is an indispensable shop guide. Straightforward text, clear drawings and encyclopedic coverage give you all the know-how you need, from the basic properties of wood to specialised design and construction. Extensive charts, tables and shop tips save you time and trouble. Safety is highlighted throughout this all-in-one practical resource, designed to work in the classroom, workshop, artist's studio or wherever your woodworking takes place.

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    The New Family Home

    A house that's designed to be beautiful and house an active, energetic family may seem like a tall order for an architect, but the 24 homes featured in The New Family Home meet both needs extraordinarily well. Author Jim Tolpin takes readers through all the nooks and crannies of these well-planned homes, where every inch of space is maximized to create a family living space that's attractive as well as functional.

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    Jim Tolpin's Table Saw Magic

    Jim Tolpin shares his techniques for using the table saw to achieve a variety of safe and accurate cuts, including ripping, crosscutting, mitre cuts, grooves, dadoes, rabbets, curves, moulding, joinery and more. One of the most useful things you'll learn in this book is how to construct a "Universal Fixture" for you table saw's fence that allows you to quickly attach a wide array of static and sliding fixtures that add safety and predictability to this machine's joinery-cutting capabilities. There is also a quick-reference troubleshooting chart.

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    Measure Twice, Cut Once

    With new color drawings and design, the 3rd edition of this guide to working with measuring tools teaches how to make calculations and cuts that come out right, saving woodworkers hours of frustration. From beginners and experienced woodworkers to club members, this information is always beneficial, whether learned at the beginning of the hobby, or learned as a way to improve the hobby. More than simply a workshop math book, "Measure Twice, Cut Once" teaches what measuring tools are, what they do, which to use for what, how to use them properly and how to make them yourself; basic measuring in relation to human proportions for furniture; proportioning systems for attractive, usable and comfortable furniture; drawing sketches and plans; developing cutting lists; laying out cuts and cutting to the lines; choosing which saw for the best cut; and more.

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    Jim Tolpin's Guide to Becoming a Professional Cabinetmaker

    Who hasn't dreamed of doing what they love as their job? This author did just that by turning his cabinetmaking hobby into a lucrative, full-time profession. And this book shows other woodworkers how to do the same in Jim Tolpin's Guide to Becoming a Professional Cabinetmaker. He provides readers with: Proven strategies for working with clients, saving on costs and improving profit margins; All the business forms needed, including a job estimating template and a sample client contract; Illustrated tips on laying out an organized workshop, guaranteed to improve work flow; Streamlined directions for doing what cabinetmakers really love: building amazing cabinets.

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