Category Archives: architecture

Loyalty , Ethics and Reason

He settled on the inner ash wood sill, leaning against the doorjamb–cypress timber the skilled carpenter planed years ago and set up with a plumb line. Contrary to the attribution in the drawing, that quote is actually from the Odyssey. … Continue reading

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Ockham’s Eraser

“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”   Albert Einstein Last week, I opened an e-mail from our public library, … Continue reading

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Tolerance and Precision

Lufkin…Starrett…Brown & Sharpe…The Holy Trinity Skeat:                                                                     … Continue reading

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blue sky

The Russian Bantry Bay Gig, Penetanguishene, 1994 If you can find a copy of Barns, Beams, and Boats online, it is the foundation story behind this boat.  Lance Lee, fresh out of the Marine Corps. in the 60’s, went to … Continue reading

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Never and Always

Winding sticks on a board, preparing stock.  Mind the gap.  This is the first start-to-finish benchwork project for me in several years, salvaged Asian mahogany from a pallet.  After sorting out most of the embedded gravel, nails, and broken drywall … Continue reading

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Remarkable

Wendell Berry, in his book of essays What Are People For? (North Point Press, 1990) has a short piece titled A Remarkable Man, which is a review of All God’s Dangers.  With no reason to believe that I can write a … Continue reading

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J L Hammond, a working history

J L Hammond and Barbara Hammond are two of the greatest historians you’ve probably never heard of.  In the early years of the twentieth century, they were commissioned by the British Labor Research Department to investigate the social and economic … Continue reading

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$20k house redux

I don’t believe it’s fair to criticize unless you can offer a better idea.  If these four guys can actually build a complete house in three weeks, they are carpenters, not mere laborers. This crew is going to spend the next … Continue reading

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$20k House Myth

I have been following (and believing in) Auburn University’s Rural Studio program since I saw Sam Mockbee speak here at the University of Arkansas School of Architecture in ’99 or 2000, shortly before he died.  Later, the filmmakers who produced Citizen … Continue reading

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Dublin Green

Some years ago…a friend of mine took up long-distance running.  After training for a summer, he and a group of fellow runners entered the Dublin Marathon.  During most of that time we had been building a timber frame, sharing my tools.  I had … Continue reading

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How and Why

Actually (to clarify the last post a bit), this began much earlier, but the photos from that phase aren’t digital, and I’ll eventually have to dig them out and scan them.  For now, the brick part is original and we … Continue reading

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Roof Valleys

Trigonometry, once you understand the basics, is fairly easy to use.  The sine curve/cosine curve model works great for electrical engineering, but isn’t very useful for building math.  Really, just the ++ quadrant of a unit circle is sufficient for every … Continue reading

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The Parthenon Enigma

“Thus, over the course of the fifth century, a new Athenian identity emerges, one carefully constructed to glorify Athens and incite fear in the hearts of its enemies.  The trappings (and overreach) of empire continued to bloat Athenian self-regard.  Still, … Continue reading

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Design and Workmanship

Before the “Maker Movement”, there was David Pye.  If you make things, or design things, and ever feel the need to communicate about making or designing, you should read these books. In 1964, David Pye published The Nature of Design, … Continue reading

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Piñata of Ideas

Ever have a really good idea, and when you float it out there, someone just can’t wait to knock the stuffing out of it.  Yeah!  Just think of it as a piñata, a little out of reach but interesting enough … Continue reading

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Learning Curves 11

Swamped Not exactly sitting pretty, I swamped and soaked myself.  Even worse, I lost my balance getting aboard, and slammed my foot so hard into the bottom that it split the hull.  This is the sort of thing that the … Continue reading

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Rhenish Helm

This old black & white is still one of the best images I’ve come across.  (pl. 15, Illustrated Glossary of Architecture 1966, Harris & Lever) There is precisely one Rhenish helm among all of England’s historic buildings, atop the tower of … Continue reading

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kid’s workbench

Anyone who wants to involve children in woodworking should consider building a good sturdy low bench to accommodate their work height.  I made this workbench for the kid’s workshops I taught at the library this spring.  After cutting and fitting … Continue reading

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raising day

Near the end of March, 1845, I borrowed an axe and went down to the woods by Walden Pond, nearest to where I intended to build my house, and began to cut down some tall, arrowy white pines, still in … Continue reading

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broadax

“He was a left-handed man.  Other workmen might be annoyed by apprentices or ignorant boys using their sharp axes; but you didn’t do that twice with George Cook’s axe–it was too dangerous a trick.”  George Sturt, The Wheelwright’s Shop Is … Continue reading

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