Today unfolded in a sphere I can’t say I am altogether used to. We travelled southeast to just the other side of London from Oxford, to see the cover of the book and the opening pages pass through the presses now that the prepress work is all completed. Watching dozens of people pass to and fro with pallet jacks tugging and shunting reams upon reams of paper back and forth and then seeing print go from grey to blue, magenta and yellow and then a full colour cover as a dream coming true dot by tiny dot.
Of course I have worked and waited a long time for this day. Never did it really cross my mind that I would actually watch the presses begin to roll and the print run begin, but today I did. We chose to stitch the pages and make it a hard cover with cloth to give it the long life we hope for the book. No, the pages can’t fall out and the spline will match the strength of the sewn pages too. We chose silver embossing on a mid blue cloth . The dust jacket is, as you can see, full colour.
As the presses clamoured to full speed we went through the bindery, watched the split-second multi folds align the pages then where they would finally pass for assembly, page trimming before the hardcover is installed. It was both fascinating and exciting, but it was all the more than that too. Whereas the actual printing began today, the book began 50 or so years ago in my apprenticeship, when I held my first planes and saws and chisels and mallets. Seeing my drawings in print seemed icing on the cake but what really mattered the most to me was just what brought this book together. There are times as a designer and maker when the work is just too much for one person to make. That’s how it happens producing a book like this. Mostly it’s about composition; the arrangement and the orchestration that creates the final music. The component parts of different pieces I have made in the past all come together in the final assembling of a myriad of components and though in many ways you want the work to continue forever there is always a time when the final work must come to its final conclusion. When I was a boy I learned about building things and the final phase we call “bringing the building to rest.” This term comes from the building of stone cathedrals and churches where timbered scaffolding is built piece by piece beneath arched stonework until the keystones are placed in the vaulted regions. Once in place and locked, the timber work is gradually lowered to allow the transfer of weight to take place and the building is brought to ‘rest‘ on its true foundation of bedrock. The people underpinning this book are too many to list, with many behind the scenes people to mention.
To date the book is 480 pages with over a thousand images and drawings from my life as a practising artisan. It’s about the essential hand tools I’ve relied on using throughout my 50 years as a furniture maker and joiner and those in the multiple thousands I have trained now all around the world. I’m grateful to have completed this work and hope that it will bless new and practicing woodworkers wherever you are. In writing the book we also brought together a triple DVD set as an added option to show the techniques of using and sharpening the different tools in the pages.
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