Saturday, March 26, 2016

A New Chapter in Blogging

This post is the beginning of a new chapter in my blogging. For years, I’ve blogged at The Workbench Diary sharing the ins and outs of my little conservation practice on the coast of Maine. I’ve regularly posted about furniture related research, preservation, and recreation with the occasional glimpse into happenings on my homestead including goats, chickens, gardens, etc.

Even as Mortise & Tenon Magazine has been growing and blossoming far beyond what I ever envisioned, I’ve been maintaining (sort of) The Workbench Diary alongside. What has been happening lately is that because so much of my time has been spent on M&T it has naturally started to become the M&T blog.

As I’ve been sharing these M&T-related blog posts on social media, I’ve begun to feel like having a blog of a different name from the Magazine’s was confusing. Additionally, since I have hand-picked a team of people to work with me now, I really want to give them a voice on the blog. You will want to hear what they have to say, readers. These are some of the most passionate hand tool woodworkers around. As we grow and experiment and test our theories as a team, we want to be sharing it with you.

So I thought it would make more sense to relocate my blogging efforts to one regular place. I’ve opened up a new blog on the Mortise & Tenon website. You’ll be able to find it in the navigation bar by simply clicking on “Blog”. So, although will remain a live static site, all new posts will be at

It really isn’t a sad ending, though. It will be the same stuff only in a different place. So from here on out, readers, follow us at the M&T website. Everything will be nice and tidy and in one place. (And commenting will be easier!)

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Late last week I finally got a two day break from this magazine craziness. Early Thursday morning my studio assistant Mike and I got on the road to head down to the Yale Furniture Study in New Haven, CT. Even though this was technically a “business” trip it was an immense “pleasure” to be away from my computer screen and M&T mailing responsibilities. This magazine has been a real stretch on my ability to keep it together while being pulled a million different directions by urgent matters. I survived a few months like that but I was beginning to reach a breaking point.

This Yale trip was a totally different experience. Road tripping 6.5 hours down the coast with my good friend chatting the whole way was a blast. I was looking forward to this trip because the mission was singular: document and measure a chair. That’s it. The Yale University Art Gallery has commissioned me to make a reproduction of an 18th century Rhode Island banister-back chair from their collection for an upcoming exhibit. (More about that exhibit here.) This project actually has two parts… Besides the building of a reproduction, they will be sending a film crew up to Maine to film the building process. This footage will be edited into a short looping video to be played at the exhibit. There is even talk about hosting a longer cut of the footage on their website. Stay tuned for those details.

When we arrived at the Furniture Study, Mary May and Bob Van Dyke were there examining some pieces for their own projects. We all caught up and chatted as Pat Kane, curator, graciously invited us all out to lunch. A good time was had by all. There was a lot of interesting conversation ranging from Eliphalet Chapin, to South American furniture, to a wrist tattoo of Hogarth’s line of beauty. I couldn’t help but think, “Man, these are my people!”

Besides our measuring tasks, Mike and I wandered the collection to examine construction techniques and stylistic details on a variety of forms and periods. I always learn so much when I go there. We were struck in particular with the inanity of describing “the” way “they” did it back then. When you examine this many pieces back to back you can’t help but notice how many different ways a form can be constructed. Being there is a wonderful experience like none other I’ve had. If you haven’t gone yet, I encourage you to read the article in Issue One all about the place. Once you make your way through that interview, you’ll be planning your trip to CT. Promise.

My new acquisition

On the way back up to Maine on Friday, we stopped at Skinner to pick up a piece I won at auction. I’ll save details for later but let’s just say this piece will definitely be featured in Issue Two of Mortise & Tenon Magazine because it is a goldmine of 18th century tool marks and construction. It is a great case study for period methodology and has a workmanlike beauty that’s stolen my heart. I also plan to bring the piece to some of my events throughout the year so if you plan on seeing me at any of those, you’ll probably see this piece.

When I arrived home Friday night I had gained fresh perspective and new energy for getting caught up on M&T orders and emails. If all goes to plan, by tomorrow evening everything will be caught up completely. Let’s hope.

2016 Events

Every year I have a number of lectures, presentations, and demonstrations booked. Here are the events for 2016. You will see this post linked on the side bar (non-mobile version) of the blog throughout the year.

April 2nd – 3rd Northeastern Woodworkers Association Annual Showcase in Saratoga Springs, New York

I will be presenting two workshops on both Saturday and Sunday. Between sessions, I will be at my booth with M&T merchandise talking about building furniture with hand tools and conserving our furniture heritage. Below are the workshops I will be presenting:

1. “Conservation in Practice: Restoring Antique Furniture" – This workshop is a discussion of conservation theory, the relationship to “restoration”, determining “what to do” for a given project, and is a demonstration of executing some of the most common repairs without jeopardizing historic integrity. This is an introductory workshop designed for those with no prior experience. If you’ve had an heirloom piece passed down to you that needs help but you’ve been nervous about doing the “wrong” repair on such a special piece, this class is for you.

2. “Restoration of Historic Finishes” – Aged and worn finishes on antique furniture have been prized for their beauty for a long time so when a surface has seen many generations of wear and use, that patina deserves to be preserved. This workshop covers ways to treat damaged finishes without stripping them or using damaging methods. White rings, paint flecks, and scratches are all common occurrences in antique furniture that can be sources of further damage if not treated properly. Attend this session to learn how to address these issues with minimally invasive (and simple) methods. No experience necessary.

June – “Wrought by Hand: Furniture Making Before the Industrial Revolution” at the Wilson Museum in Castine, Maine

Before the adoption of machinery into furniture production in the 19th century, all furniture was made completely “by hand”. Starting from a log all the way through to a finished piece of furniture, axes, saws, planes, and chisels were the tools employed by furniture artisans. But don’t believe the myth that building by hand is slow or arduous. Based on my experience building furniture without any “power” tools I can vouch for the fact that period makers were efficient workers. Come and watch a live demonstration and discussion of the efficiency and viability of pre-industrial furniture making methods. Far from merely anachronistic curiosity, this presentation is a lively and interactive opportunity to see hand-tool-only furniture making.

July 8th-9th - Lie-Nielsen Open House in Warren, Maine

This event is a staple for woodworkers. There are always loads of awesome demonstrators and so many tools to try out. I will be there in a Mortise & Tenon booth demonstrating and discussing period furniture making methods. Make sure you stop by. This one shouldn’t be missed.

August - Jonathan Fisher Antique Show in Blue Hill, Maine

This show I’ve been doing for a while now. Each year, in the sea of antique dealers, I’m the one guy planing boards and chopping mortises at a workbench. It is always draws attention and helps contextualize the pieces sold at dealer’s booths.

Sept 16th-18th – Woodworking in America

Plan to drop by my booth at WIA this year. Workbench and tool chest in tow, things are guaranteed to be fun. I will have examples of actual period joinery available for close inspection and will be demonstrating efficient pre-industrial methods of working wood.

Oct 1st-2nd – Living History Days at Leonard’s Mills in Bradley, Maine

The Living History Days are two days of historic interpretation of a 1790s Maine frontier logging camp. If you’re into watching folks demonstrate historic trades in period dress, this one’s for you. I always bring my workbench and tool chest to demonstrate historic woodworking. My wife and kids come along for this one and it is always a special weekend that we look forward to every year. There are hay rides, bean hole beans, and tons of other historic crafts demonstrated.

Oct 29th-Nov 1st - SAPFM Peach State Chapter Presentation in Alpharetta, Georgia

The Society of American Period Furniture Makers chapter in Georgia has invited me to do two presentations on furniture restoration this fall. Stay tuned for details…

Sunday, March 13, 2016

It Was Never Supposed to Be Like This

The plan has been since last fall that I was going to dedicate the month of January to working on the magazine exclusively. I knew there was going to be a lot of editing and design work that I couldn’t get done in my “spare” time alone. Also, the public excitement about M&T really forced me to step up my game and make this thing as polished as I reasonably could achieve with the time and resources I had at hand. Giving M&T this concentrated January time worked out well with the exception of one thing: it’s still not over.

As we were packing magazines and dropping off van load after van load at the Post Office last month, things began picking up rather than slowing down. It seems that once readers began getting their copies and showing them off on social media others began to get jealous to see what they were missing out on. The orders spiked and I’ve barely been able to keep up since. For weeks now, I have been full time answering emails, packaging magazines, and shipping orders out. Now, don’t get me wrong here: I’m not complaining but it was never supposed to be like this.

When I began this project I hoped to sell maybe 1,000 copies when all was said and done. That would be decent for a small start-up independent publisher and would be considered a success in my book. But as momentum was gaining the past few months, I decided to bump up the print run to 5,000. Because I want to keep Issue One in stock I thought this would be a safe number to cover me at least for a few years. Turns out I was wrong. Right now, only a few weeks after hitting mailboxes, Issue One is almost completely sold out. I am currently working on a second run of Issue One but it might be a month or so before I see that delivery. If you want a copy but still haven’t ordered, I recommend you get it now before it’s out of stock temporarily.

Waiting to hear back from me?

So if you have been waiting a few days to hear back from me with your order inquiry through email, please be patient. This thing is way bigger than I anticipated and definitely way more than one person can handle. I will get back to each and every one of you as soon as is humanely possible but as of right now Mortise & Tenon Magazine consists primarily of one person. I am in the early stages of training help but it’ll be a few weeks before that transition is smoothed out. For now, I’m trying to keep my head above water solo.

Thank you all for your humbling support and near embarrassing enthusiasm. I feel so fortunate to be able to share the research and work I am passionate about. As I gain more experience overseeing the ins and outs of running a magazine, I am confident things will become much more manageable. And with hired help, I hope to see this operation running as smooth as any independent publisher could expect, even if it is (literally) a kitchen table publication in the meantime.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Pre-Orders Either in Your Hands or in Route

If You Haven’t Gotten a Shipping Notification E-Mail

There have been some folks that have kindly emailed to inquire about their shipping status because they said they never got a shipping confirmation. Although many did receive one, some didn’t. I honestly don’t know why that is. If you’re not sure if you got it, please check your spam folder to see if it was mistakenly filtered out. If it’s not there and you just can’t sleep until you know where your magazine is, the best way to inquire is at Please refrain from inquiring through comments on the blog or Instagram because I’d rather not post your personal tracking info in public. If you shoot me an email I can give you specific details about your order.

If You Did Get a Tracking Confirmation E-Mail

In other technical glitch news, has not so helpfully goofed on the confirmation emails many of you did receive. They’ve mistakenly linked your USPS tracking number to the DHL site. Doh! I’ve called tech support and they told me they were aware of the problem and are investigating it. So that one I can’t do anything about directly but if you do want to know how to see your tracking info, copy and paste the tracking number you have into the tracking number search bar on . If you still are having trouble, feel free to email me.

The Mystery of the Exploding Packages

It seems that one of the postal workers out there has dropkicked a few of my customers’ magazines. I cannot even fathom how one would have to treat a package to incur such damage. The packaging I opted for was a result of personal experience ordering publications along with multiple consultations with my postmaster. I’ve never order a magazine that came in anything beefier than a poly mailer. But apparently they’re out to get us, folks. It seems it’s not uncommon that the brown paper the magazine was wrapped in tears because of the sharp corners. As unfortunate as that is, I can live with that for now as long as the magazine itself is okay. That said, a few people have reached out to me about damage to the magazine itself. Some have let me know about minor issues but kindly refused a new one in the spirit of acceptance of “patina”. (Ha! Sure. I can go with that.) But if you received a copy in a condition you are unsatisfied with do not hesitate to contact me at the aforementioned email address. I don’t want folks disappointed. Now that the first round of shipping has gone out, there will be some tweaking to the packaging to foil the attacks of the heavy hitters on the postal team.

Thank You All

All in all, things are going pretty smooth. It’s a lot more work than I thought to ship these out but there haven’t been any major hitches. Thank you all for your patience with me as I run the shipping department, marketing department, sales department, and customer service for this magazine solo. It’s so rewarding to see your enthusiasm on social media as you receive your copies of Issue One. Thank you for seeing this thing as gloat-worthy. It makes this all worthwhile.

If you haven't ordered yet, you can do so here.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Update on Shipping

I have continued full steam since my last post about shipping out pre-orders. I’ve hauled many boxes, labeled many packages, and spent hours on the phone with tech support when things got stuck. It has been a real learning experience doing this shipping in such huge quantities.

I know there are still a small handful of you waiting on shipment notification. I apologize that it took a few days longer than anticipated. Forgive me for the delay. I assure you I’m not resting on my laurels. I’m doing my absolute honest best to get you your copies asap. Mike and Ryan were helping me today and I’ll be getting more help tomorrow. I appreciate your patience, readers!

The enthusiastic feedback is very encouraging! Keep sharing it with me!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Pre-Orders Shipping Out!

The past two days will be forever blurred as one in my mind. At 10:30 Monday morning, I got the long-awaited phone call from the freight driver telling me he was arriving at my storage unit with the magazines. My good friend and studio assistant, Mike, and I met the driver and began unloading. Shortly thereafter, two more cars showed up: my wife Julia and my friend Ryan (you probably know him as the red-bearded Liberty Tool Company guy). We carted the boxes of pre-ordered copies in a three-car caravan to my house/ad hoc packing facility.

Then the chaos began. As we were setting up the tables and working out the workflow details, the rest of the crew arrived. There were nine of us working our tails off to get these things out asap for you readers. It was the perfect crew for this project: Richard (from the Living History Days event), Ryan and Tanya (from Liberty Tool), Mike (my studio assistant), my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law, our good friend Brittnay (who did the interview transcriptions), and Julia and I.

We all got along so well even though not everyone had met before. The truth is most of us are drawn to this mid coast Maine area because of very similar interests. Throughout the two days I overheard conversations about hand tools, the role of traditional craft in the today’s society, local food, homeschooling, breastfeeding, spinning wool, raising farm animals, homesteading, hauling water, the role local economy plays in the development of strong community, and the evils of television. Our community here is still living out the back-to-the-land movement inspired by the Nearings in the 1950s so we were in good company.

My wife and I tried to make these two days as fun (and delicious) as possible for everyone. I think I can say with confidence we all had a blast. I am so grateful for their help. They all worked so hard and stayed optimistic to the last minute. There were new friendships made and the existing ones were deepened. What an amazing crew. (Thank you for your help, gang!)

We ran out of shavings for packing halfway through so Richard began making more!

We loaded up Richard's pine box to overflowing several times

The first day we were able to get just under 1/3 of them packed and dropped off at the Post Office. The second day ended up being a 14 hour day in total. Around 8:00 pm last night, we had them all packed into the poly mailers. Today I’m attaching the shipping labels and delivering the last 2/3 of them. As you can tell from the picture below, it is still a lot of handling and hauling so I can’t guarantee they will all get out in today’s mail but I will do my best. Although totally exhausted, I am feeling very blessed to have your support, readers. Thank you so much!

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Tomorrow the freight truck with thousands of magazines arrives. I have a handful of friends lined up waiting for that truck to arrive; when it does, we will commence with the packing. I think we have enough manpower to get these things to the Post Office by Tuesday afternoon but no promises. As I am about to ship Issue One out I thought it would be good to make a few comments about the connected community around M&T.

One of the most powerful things about our technologically connected world is the ability to form community around very specific interests. In what other time period could you have a community of 12,000 people enthusiastic about centuries-old furniture making methods? This opportunity to pool information and experience is something about the internet that I value highly. I’ve learned more from my interactions on blogs, Instagram, and Facebook than most other sources. But how does the high tech ultra-connected internet “community” relate to a print magazine like Mortise & Tenon? Intimately, I hope.

Until now, the first printing, M&T has existed only in the intangible land of ones and zeroes. There has been a lot of interaction on social media (Instagram and Facebook, especially) about the message and vision of M&T. There have been folks with more experience than myself chiming in to contribute their thoughts right along with those new to the craft asking beginner questions. This is wonderful and I want it to stay this way.

In both the editor’s letter and the Manifesto article of Issue One I make an invitation to readers: let’s get this conversation going. It would be a loss in my view if folks read these pages and then put it on the shelf never to engage with it. I hope M&T in print is a conversation starter rather than a final word. By using the hashtag #mtmagintheshop let’s get this conversation about pre-industrial furniture making underway. Is there something you appreciated learning in Issue One? Tell us about it. Do you have questions about something that was written in one of the articles? Ask us. Or maybe you can share a different viewpoint than the author? Show us another way. Is there a thought or quotation from an issue you’ve just got to share? By all means, share it with the world. We want to see you take the pages of M&T into the shop because this magazine belongs on your bench next to a pile of shavings. So send us pictures of what M&T means to you. Tag us on Instagram: @mortise_and_tenon_mag and use hashtag #mtmagintheshop. We want to hear your voice in the conversation.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The First Look Inside Issue One

Last night a small box arrived on my doorstep. My printer had kindly agreed to overnight me a handful of copies of the magazine as the three day freight delivery was in route. Even though I won’t see that pile of magazines until the very end of this week, last night was the moment I had been looking forward to. As I cut the tape from the box, my wife asked me, “Are you nervous?”

I didn’t know exactly how to answer that because I have become so invested in this project and spent so many hours in front of my computer screen fine tuning this thing that I honestly felt a little detached from the “newness” of it all. As I pulled the first copy out and cracked open the pages, it felt surreal. Up to this point I was so acquainted with every little nuance of the design on my screen, that to view it in its final printed form was almost… foreign. To this point the world of M&T has been an intangible (and almost abstract) project. But last night was finally the real thing.

The texture of the paper, the mellowness of an almost vintage print technology, and the simple heft of the publication are aspects I could only try to envision. As I am acquainting myself with this final presentation format, I can’t help but compare it to the first time I’ve met teachers whose work I followed for years before meeting them face to face. If you’ve had that experience, you know it feels surreal. You think: Is this real? Is this person I’m talking to truly the person I’ve seen in photos a thousand times? You know it is but your mind has to begin to take in all of your ideas about who this person is and accommodate them to the reality in front of you. That is the way I’ve felt since opening these pages.

I’m pinching myself and only beginning to realize this morning that, yes, this is real. The magazine is done and it is here. I am so delighted with it and think you will be too, readers.

Your copies will be arriving to my place in a few days. I have a crew of people lined up to help pack them and get them out the door to you as quickly as we can. It will take us a few days as we will be doing more than shoving them in a bag and slapping a label on them. If you’ve ordered from my website, your copy will be wrapped in brown kraft paper and tied with string. Then an 18th-century style tradecard label will be adhered and will get a wax seal. I’ve been spending the past few days making and sealing the labels in preparation for packing.


I cannot guarantee which day your copies will go in the mail but I’m guessing it will be Tuesday. I appreciate your enthusiasm (and tongue-in-cheek impatience) about the big release. Hang in there, folks. We’re on schedule. It won’t be long now. In the meantime, enjoy some spreads...

If you're wondering how to order, visit here:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

That isn’t Really a ‘Magazine’ Then, is it?

Over the course of the past few months I’ve been fielding various questions from readers about the very-soon-to-be-released magazine. A few have asked how many issues there are in a year’s subscription. Although I’ve tried to make this clear from the beginning, I apologize if there is still confusion over this matter.

This upcoming release is the inaugural issue of our annual publication. Because M&T is published only once a year, there isn't a “yearly subscription" to sign up for. We've decided that rather than ration the content out into four or six issues spread throughout the year we'd release it together as one annual volume. As such, each issue is offered for sale individually as it becomes available. When/if M&T increases in frequency down the road it will not be by merely cutting this content into four and then calling it a “Quarterly”. We want every issue to be substantial and book-like. At 144 pages of ad-free body copy, I will grant that it is more like a book than a typical magazine. The cover is thick and rigid and the pages consist of perfect bound heavy uncoated paper. This massive volume weighs in at around 1 lb a piece.

So there has been some confusion over the use of the word “magazine” for this publication. “Isn’t this a book and not a magazine?” Feel free to call it whatever you like but this format is not unprecedented. There are an abundance of indie magazines like this in the UK and a handful here in the US. Some of these are quarterly, some bi-annual. (e.g. Kinfolk, Trouve, Cereal, Huck, Lagom, The Collective Quarterly) They are all on uncoated paper and have 100+ pages of virtually ad-free content. They focus primarily on lush photography with brief navel-gazing essays on “lifestyle” or “travel” themes. Although I have never been able to get myself to wade through actually reading one of those in their entirety, I do appreciate the feel and aesthetic. I think it is the perfect format for the unique and engaging content of Mortise & Tenon.

The uncoated paper gives a vintage look and tactile quality that standard coated paper just cannot achieve. My printer explained to me that the nostalgic look is a micro-bleed of the ink. Instead of the ink sitting on top of a coating, it actually sinks in to an uncoated paper causing a microscopic bleed. This is what creates that wonderful vintage look. From a print techie’s perspective, the rigid and precise lines created on coated paper are more advanced technologically. From an antiquarian’s perspective, the warmth and nostalgia of traditional uncoated stock are irreplaceable. In our judgment, the coated stock is just too conventional and common place so reading a publication on uncoated paper is a special experience.

But M&T is not just pretty pictures. Containing approximately 40,000 words from today's leading experts, your mind will be just as stimulated as your eyes are delighted. The most common complaint I’ve heard about woodworking media is that it’s skimpy on the content. I’ve taken this to heart and consequently refused to compromise word count in order to achieve a minimalist look. It’s been a challenge to make these different goals work together but I think the final result is a tasteful blend of beautiful simplicity and abundant content. I think you’ll agree.

p.s. Last day for free shipping, folks. Make sure you’ve got your order in.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

It’s Out of My Hands Now

Yesterday morning I approved the final proofs for Issue One. It is a tremendous weight off my shoulders to know it’s out of my hands now. Because my wife Julia and I can be rather persnickety when it comes to aesthetic decisions we pored over these pages time after time to tweak each image and text column just so until we were happy. I’ve had many nights of no more than a few hours of sleep in order to refine the design to our satisfaction. Aside from the design side of things, many hours were spent combing through the text with a fine-toothed comb. Jim McConnell, Megan Fitzpatrick, Julia, and I have been through it too many times to count. I now understand why quality publications cost what they do.

So we’ve done our bit now. Issue One is designed, edited, and the proofs approved. From here on out it’s in the printer’s court. Based on recommendation, I’m using Royle Printing from Sun Prairie, WI. I’ve been very impressed with their willingness to take on a totally green start-up like myself. The account executive, Phil, has been particularly helpful in explaining technical issues and jargon in plain terms that even I can understand. He’s heard my vision for this publication and bent over backward to make sure I can deliver to you exactly what was intended. I know this thing is going to be beautiful. I’m in good hands with Royle.

I also owe tremendous thanks to many people that have advised me along the way. Chris Schwarz (Lost Art Press), Megan Fitzpatrick (Popular Woodworking), Amanda Marko (Trouve), and Jon Wilson (Wooden Boat Magazine) in particular have been the guiderails for me as I’ve been on this journey. They’ve helped me to understand the business side of print in a niche market. Mortise & Tenon simply wouldn’t exist if it were not for their immeasurable generosity.

It’s been an indescribable experience the past nine months to watch reader enthusiasm and support surround this project. To have over 10,000 people following the progress of the magazine is humbling to say the least. I never thought M&T would grow into this so quickly. It has come clear to me that although hand tool woodworking and pre-industrial furniture is a niche topic, the interest is deep.

This is the magazine I always wanted to read and now, because of your support, we can. Thank you, readers. I’m looking forward to getting you your copy of Issue One. In only two weeks, when that truck shows up at my house with a mountain of magazines, this vision will come to fruition.

If you’re wondering how to get your hands on the inaugural issue, hop over to the website to put in your order. Please note that free shipping on pre-orders ends on the 10th (only one week away).

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Shirts, Posters, and Stickers: Now Taking Orders


I spent a large part of today doing inventory on my new M&T e-store and getting all my shipping supplies in order. It wasn’t until 10 pm tonight that I could get the domain transferred to the new store ready to take orders. It’s finally live. If you’ve been waiting to get your hands on one of the t-shirts, posters, or stickers, wait no longer. Visit the store at

This run of things is a “while supplies last” kind of deal. Having no idea of the level of interest I made a conservative call on the size of run for each item. I didn’t want to have to use t-shirts as insulation in our new house someday. When this round starts thinning out, I will be contacting my printers to restock. Shannon Brantley, who printed the excellent shirts, is standing by ready for a second run if need be. Check out the offerings. I suggest a t-shirt especially. They have a super soft, vintage feel.

Issue One Poster