Saturday, December 17, 2011

Making wooden hinges...

Open, the wooden hinge is attractive.
Yesterday I made a prototype wooden hinge as a sample for the editors of Fine Woodworking. In order to keep articles coming through magazines I have to keep busy pitching proposals, and in this case, the editors wanted to actually see a box made with the technique I was describing to them. My idea is to write an article showing at least two ways in which wooden hinges can be made, and I know from teaching that wooden hinges always interest my students just as they will subscribers to Fine Woodworking Magazine.

The box shown in the photos is a "recipe box" made of black locust. The size is intended to offer the space required to hold recipe cards. The box is not finished. I will do additional sanding and apply a Danish oil finish.

Yesterday's post mentioned Calvin Woodward's "alphabet of tools." If there is an alphabet of tools, there would also be a library of techniques, and a whole language of form in the making of useful things.

The idea of an alphabet of tools was probably not original to Woodward.

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827) had created an "alphabet of form" breaking down the patterns required to observe, draw, illustrate and design that I had described in an earlier blog post. He also suggested that an "alphabet of practical abilities" should be designed so that manual work and physical exercises could be broken down into elements, and teaching schemes devised to develop skill.

You can see Pestalozzi's ideas more fully developed in the work of Victor Della Vos and Otto Salomon who formulated the early programs of manual arts instruction. Pestalozzi's alphabet of form has proved more difficult to use. But children with words alone and no tools with which to commence real learning are deprived of their creative capacity. Is that the world we would consciously choose for them?

Make, fix and create...

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