Now Shipping: Joseph Moxon’s ‘Mechanick Exercises’

After a long dry spell of new books, I am pleased to announce that we are now shipping our reprint of Joseph Moxon’s “Mechanick Exercises: Or the Doctrine of Handy-Works” – the first English language book on woodworking.

If you are a hand-tool enthusiast, Moxon is basically where it all begins. His clear descriptions of tools and processes point out a fundamental truth of our craft: Not too much has changed in the last 300 years in woodworking.

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Yet, even though I’ve been working with hand tools my entire career, there is always something new to learn from reading Moxon. His nuanced description of using the fore plane is a ray of bright light in a modern world that is obsessed with smoothing planes. And even his description of sharpening will give you something to think about.

Our reprint is based on the 1703 edition of Moxon’s book. And it includes all the original chapters and plates, including the sections on carpentry, blacksmith work, turning and making sundials. We made our reprint using a copy from the Early American Industries Association. And proceeds from every copy sold will go to benefit this important organization.

Creating this reprint has long been a goal of mine because I wanted to help preserve this knowledge in a high-quality, durable book. We have designed this book to last many lifetimes. The acid-free pages are gathered into signatures, which are then sewn and glued together, with the book block reinforced with a fiber-based tape and then wrapped in cloth-covered boards. The book was produced and printed entirely in the U.S. 

This book will endure many, many readings without the pages falling out. And like all of our books, it will resist floods, dogs and even babies. 

We also worked hard to keep the price reasonable: $24. We did this by carefully selecting the paper and the press, which is one reason this book took six months to print. We hope you’ll consider adding “Mechanick Exercises: Or the Doctrine of Handy-Works” to your collection (it is one of the backbones of our mechanical library). Or perhaps order it for a budding hand-tool woodworker to give them a firm grounding in traditional practice.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Several people have asked what is the difference between this book and “Art of Joinery.” Our new book, “Mechanick Exercises: Or the Doctrine of Handy-Works” is the complete and original text, with chapters on blacksmithing, carpentry and turning. “Art of Joinery” is merely the chapters on joinery and includes commentary from me, exploring the practices described by Moxon.


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