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Of Cabinets and Cushions!


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Established Member
12 Mar 2009
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Kent - the Garden of England
Gentlemen of this Parish....

Isn't it strange how one little plane leads to something far deeper......

I refer to a nice dado plane I have been oggling from one George Sheppey of Soho London.

Now this gentleman was a subscriber of a simple little book by one Thos Shearton....(he of whittling fame....) and this is now online in three parts.

Entitled simply The Cabinet-Maker And Upholsterer's Drawing-Book and presented in three parts...THIS fascinating book is a must read for serious wood choppers and insomniacs throughout the land!

A quick scan of the first few pages will leave you in no doubt that to be a cabinet maker in the 18th century was not a simple task...and start to understand the need for extensive apprenticeships!

Enjoy my friends!!



Established Member
24 Jul 2007
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Nice link Jim - a book I've not read before - and a quick dip certainly shows the depth of knowledge that these people expected to have, in something of the same way that 18th century manuals for carpenters are largely textbooks of applied geometry.

A general observation about Google books - I may be a bit wrong as I've not paid much attention to their various "Play" and "Plus" offerings which all seem to operate differently here than they do in the US - but it's no longer easy to download scanned books from the Google site as straightforward pdfs for reading on a PC or other device, independently of any personal Google account and 'library' feature. But there is a powerful workaround.

Once Google has helped you find the content you need, use the Open Library site and search for the title you want. You will get to a page which offers ocr'd plain texts or conversions to ebook formats, and also scans of the original pages, as pdfs.

In this case it doesn't actually list the Google scan of the 1793 edition but does give a choice of two slightly later revisions: http://openlibrary.org/works/OL1092018W/The_cabinet-maker_and_upholsterer's_drawing-book

Whichever route you take, it's great to be able to get to these rare, valuable books, instantly, from your armchair. I'm off to knock up a Harlequin Pembroke Table and I may be some time if I can't find the right bits at B&Q:



Established Member
30 Jan 2012
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I wonder if anybody ever made a harlequin Pembroke table? As much a triumph of engineering as cabinetmaking.....

A couple of other books that might be worth a perusal are George Hepplewhite's 'The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guide', and 'The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director' by a chap called Thomas Chippendale, who did a bit of interior design when he wasn't entertaining hen parties.

Have to admit that this style of furniture leaves me a bit cold. The craftsmanship to make it is of the highest order, and I have the greatest respect for that; aesthetically, it's just a bit over-ornamented for me. I much prefer the better 'vernacular' furniture - solid, functional and when well-made of good timber, very satisfying. But that's just me - thankfully, there's plenty of room for other tastes, or the world would be a much more boring place!

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