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  Practical Carpentry, Joinery and Cabinet Making by Peter Nicholson, 1826




This work contains the science and present practice of the Arts of Carpentry, Joinery, and Cabinet-making, explained in a simple and familiar manner; and, for the advantage of readers not yet acquainted with abstruse scientific terms, no more of them have been employed than were absolutely necessary.

We have uniformly observed, that Carpenters, Joiners, and Cabinet-Makers, are alike distinguished for their superior knowledge in the scientific principles of their respective Arts; and, as it frequently happens that the whole of these arts are followed by a single individual, and the arts themselves having considerable relation, in consequence of being all more or less dependent on the same common principles, we have brought these important arts together into one Work.

During the happy exertions still in progress for the education of the people, a result we expected has taken place: Carpenters, Joiners, and Cabinet-Makers, feeling a desire to hold their pre-eminence, have solicited for works of a superior character, both as regards elucidation of principles and ornamental embellishments.

We have done our best endeavours to meet, if not exceed their wishes, and have had the assistance of Talents of the highest rank in the respective departments; our illustrations being from the pencils and gravers of first-rate Artists; an appeal to the interior of our Work will, however, afford more conviction of its utility and value than we can possibly convey in the brief limits of a Preface.

The following is a short sketch of the contents: The Work is divided into three principal divisions, called Books. The first Book treats of Carpentry, with an Introduction, shewing the principles and methods of describing Curves; the nature and methods of making Working Drawings; the manner of Setting-out Buildings, &c. &c.

The Carpentry then commences with the Principles and Practice of Framing and Connecting Timbers ; the Construction of Roofs, Floors, Partitions, Domes, Niches, Groins, Centres, and Wooden Bridges ; with the principles and methods of finding the Lines for each of these species of work ; concluding with a comprehensive view of the Qualities and Strength of Timber.

The Second Book treats of Joinery; and, after a brief outline of its history and of the nature and mode of describing Mouldings, it proceeds to exhibit the methods of Framing, and Gluing-up, and Setting-out Work the description of Raking-Mouldings; the Methods of Enlarging and Diminishing Mouldings; the Art of Hinging and forming Joints.

The Construction of Doors, Windows, Window-Shutters, Circular Sashes, Skylights.

The Mode of Bending Mouldings, of Diminishing and Fluting Columns and Pilasters; of forming Architraves, Surbases, and Bases, with specimens of Shop-Fronts; and a complete Treatise on the Theory and Construction of Stairs and Hand-rails; concluding with the Methods of fixing Joiners' Work, and laying both common and parquet floors.

The Third Book is appropriated to Cabinet-making, or the principles of Designing, Constructing, and Selecting Furniture; and treats of the general principles of Design in respect to fitness, outline, relative proportion of Parts, selection of Ornaments, and combination of coloured Woods.

The Grecian, Roman, and Gothic styles of Furnishing are next illustrated, and their distinguishing features shown; and the species of Furniture adapted to particular objects, and the modes of furnishing different kinds of rooms are described, and illustrated by original Designs.

These are followed by the principles of Constructing Furniture, the methods of Veneering, Inlaying, Buhl-Work, Carving, moulding Ornaments in Wood and Composition, &c.; with the best methods of Cleaning-off, Stopping, Staining, common Polishing, French Polishing, Varnishing, and Cleaning Furniture, &c. &c. 

Indices, with explanations of the peculiar Technical Terms of these Arts, are added.


In the Constructive Department, the examples given in the Plates are chiefly from works already executed. We have preferred selecting from the executed Buildings of Rennie, Smirke, Hardwick, &c. &c. to adding untried projects.

But, in Ornamental Works, we have endeavoured to exhibit the reigning Taste of the period by means of original Designs. On the whole, it has been our object to combine Theory with Practice, and to illustrate both with taste, while we rendered the access to them easy and agreeable.

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