Build project from 1891

Here is an extract I painstakingly copied word for word from a magazine published in 1891 called work.  They contain projects for home amateur enthusiasts who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. It covers projects for woodworking, talks about metal working lathes, the latest foot powered scroll saws, brick laying just about every trade. It’s like the readers digest when they once printed useful things. Anyway I thought it would be nice to get a real glimpse into the past.



A GREAT inconvenience arises in drawing upon wood blocks which are 15/16 of an inch in thickness, owing to the absence of a rest for the hand and the difficulty in using squares (T or set) in drawing accurately perpendicular and horizontal lines, a difficulty still increased when drawing architectural or other subjects to perspective points where great care and accuracy are requisite.

To obviate these drawbacks and ensure ease, convenience, and extreme truth of drawing the writer designed made, and used a board, which has stood the test of twenty years’ use most satisfactorily, not only for wood but drawings on paper, if to a very small scale, the paper of course mounted.

First make a 3/4in. drawing boards A clamped at ends 24in. by 15in. over all, and plant upon it a 1 in. strip B. 4 in. wide, 24 in. long, glued and screwed from the back, with a groove ploughed in its face 1/2 in. from edges, of a dovetail form ( see a in section) and rebated 1/2 in. by 1/2 in. on its upper edge, next to A, so as to leave a soffit of 7/16 overhanging 1/2 in. beyond where the rebate is jointed on A Fig. 1. To the right hand side of drawing board A fit and plant with glue and screws a strip c of 1 in. stuff, 6 in. wide, 11 1/2 in. at back, rebated at one end to 11 in. Long at face so as to fill the rebate in strip B. Note that this strip must be made absolutely square with B, or more explicitly with the edge b of B, c, with the edge of C, forming a perfectly true right angle with it. Next fill a similar piece of 1 in. stuff of same dimensions called the “follower” so that it correctly fit the rebate of B, and its edge d made perfectly square with b. Half an inch back from its edge d plough a groove parallel to d 1/4 in. deep, 1/4 in. wide at top by 3/8 in. at bottom exactly as groove before mentioned at ( a in sections). This strip must not be glued or screwed, but is utilised as it’s name, follower, implies to slide square with B all along from the edge of c, also square to the full extent of the uncovered portion of A. At e e cut a groove through the drawing board as a slot 1/4 in. at face and 1/2 in. at back of a T shape parallel to B, but 5 in. From it, to receive a stud and thumbscrew f, or what is called a camera – backscrew, and on underside of the follower D let in and screw the plate g (see f in section also).

Now the board is so far complete that a block can be placed upon the uncovered part of A against B and C, and the follower D pressed against its side until it is firmly held; whilst the thumbscrew secures the follower in its place, the surface of the block will be flush with the surface of B, C, and D, thus fulfilling the first condition: convenience for the rest for the hand of same level as the block itself. Now fits exactly to the dovetails grooves strips of wood (boxwood for preference) of the section shown at h, Fig. 2, respectively 9 in. 6 in. long, made so accurately as to slide readily but not loosely in the grooves (see a in section). Having fitted these slides h, h, which stand up 1/8 in. above the level of the block they can be slid along and used as straightedges for set squares to slide against, the longer giving perpendiculars, in the groove in B and the other, horizontals in groove in D, with a right-angled set square, but when not so required they may be pushed along their grooves out of the way of the hand when drawing.

At any point on the horizon of the required perspective where the vanishing points fall, a needle may be driven into the strip C and the follower D, and all vanishing lines can then be drawn with a straight edge to these points with microscopic accuracy, the slides being pushed out of the way and pushed back again when vertical or horizontal lines are required; the width of strip and follower, 6 in. each, being ordinarily sufficiently distant for the vanishing points. In certain instances this is no the case, however; the writer therefore, provided and fixed (see plan Fig.5 “looking up”) two sliding grooves in back of A ( which can be taken out and hung up when not in use), having a thicknessing piece at their outward ends glued and screwed on with a fixed point or needle in each, so placed as to be in the same horizontal line.

As the horizontal line varies in various drawings, it’s distance should be first ascertained, and the block to be drawn should be pushed up to the fixed horizontal line of these sliders, and the vacuum, so to speak, between base line of block and the edge b should be filled with a strip boxwood block of the exact size to maintain the block to be drawn in its right position with its perspective horizontal line coincident with the normal one of the board. The sliders being drawn out to the required mdistance on each edge, ought to remain n position through accuracy of fit, but as wood shrinks in time, and they may thus become looser, and thus be apt to slip, the sliders may be marked with inches and eighths like an English rule (or centimetres or decimetres etc., on the French decimal scale of lengths, which we like better), and when the point is found a note can be made of it, to check any subsequent shifting. By this means, before photography and process work came into vogue, the writer has produced for The Builder perspective architectural drawings which for accurate detail have not being surpassed, an accuracy due entirely to the means employed. A careful tracing put down on the wood gets obliterated in the shading up on Indian ink and it’s exact angle lost, but if the vanishing point is there it can be regained in the ruling up with mathematical precision. But the draughtsman on wood – perhaps we ought to say nowadays – have not only to draw upon wood have very frequently to trace from very indifferent photographs, which is best done by light being transmitted through the print or glass photo onto the tracing paper. Our drawing board offers convenient means of doing this in the following manner.

Make a frame of 1 in. stuff 1 1/2 in. broad (see Figs 1 and 4) 24 in. inside measurement, tenoning one piece of the sides E into the ends F, F, which are 15 in. long. Before gluing up into the mortises cut in ends, plough a 1/4 in. by 1/4 in. groove about 1/8 in. from face in the four pieces of frame, and then make the fourth a sliding piece G, to fit the groove accurately, so that it will move therein to any desired position; then glue up and wedge the end pieces and the tenoned side; when dried and finished off, slide the piece G into it. At K, K, in F, F, bore screw holes countersunk and screw into the ends of B, so that when level with face of block, the strip C and follower D shall at their top ends be in contact with their inner edge of G when it is pushed close up to the tenoned side of frame E.

These screws form pivots, or hinges, on which the frame can be raised to any angle, or allowed to remain flush with top of block and board. In the frame ends f, f, passing into the grooves in which the sliding piece G moves should be made every 1/2 in. or so from 3 1/4 upwards, so as to maintain G with a photograph covered with tracing paper, or glass plate, with a paper print and tracing paper mounted upon it, put into the grooves of E and G (see section Fig.2), which will hold it whilst being traced. A mirror being put at the proper angle behind it through reflect the rays of light through it, the frame F E F G being inclined to a convenient angle to the plane of the board supported by the following means.

The top of the frame F E F G should be, when down, flush with the surface of the block, i.e., with the surfaces of b, c and d; when up; at a convenient angle, say, for instance, at 45 or 50 degrees to these surfaces or planes. By making two strips of wood I, I, with screw holes bored and countersunk at one end, and screwing them onto their sides of A below the frame which is screwed to B (see end view Fig.3), leaving them 9 in. long, and putting screws, in position shown, into A to perform pivots support for the frame F E F G is at once provided in the position shown in the perspective view, Fig.6. But these pieces or levers, when not in use would fall on their pivots; we halve them at their ends, as shown, and save the pieces, so cut away – to plant onto A with a single screw each, in the same places they would have been occupied had they not been cut off. The levers I, I, when not in use, are thus locked into normal places by these “frogs” but they are capable of another use, namely, that of forming hind legs as it were to slope the drawing board to a suitable angle when blocks are being drawn (see dotted lines perspective Fig.4).

Having now completed the construction, we may to it’s perfection as a “tool” rounding the edges of B, so as not to fray the sleeves or irritate the wrist as shown in the drawings, and add to its appearance by polishing it with French polish or oiling it with raw linseed oil; or the parts where friction exists may be rubbed with powdered talc (Pudding Stone), the French shops of oil shops, the boot makers, or glover’s.

Whilst on the subject of drawing to fine scales, probably we may usefully suggest simple means of keeping the radius of compasses always the same with pencil as it is with pen, the pen never wears away; the graphite gets shorter with circle turned. Instead of using a lead pencil cut to a diameter suitable for the holder in a pair of compasses, procure a propelling pencil case (see Fig.7) and break away the outer case; this costs but a few pence, and will save hours of time wasted in sharpening leads and altering legs. You have only to propel he lead further out, by turning the nose piece to always keep the length of the leg of he compasses the same as the other leg. Another plan, useful principally for bow pencils and spring pencil bows, is to obtain, or make, split tubes to carry Faber’s moveable leads which are made in all degrees of hardness (Fig.8).

As the lead wears it may be pushed further through the carrier and always kept to length, without altering the angle of the legs. Another alternative is to gum a strip paper and roll it around a piece of Fabre’s lead until it is thicknessed out to fit the carrier of the compasses, and keep pushing it further and further through as the graphite wears away.


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