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By Hand and Eye

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Review by SirIrb posted 03-02-2015 01:27 PM 3548 views 3 times favorited 48 comments Add to Favorites Watch
By Hand and Eye No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I saw so much talk in the furniture forum for this book I had to get it. The book arrived Saturday and I immediately began reading it. I had heard that this was a book you have to read while in the shop working on layout. This is true. But because I have yet to get some dividers (hint: buy some dividers because they are the backbone of the whole theory of the book) I read it with a glass of brandy in my chair. I finished it Sunday and turned back to page one to begin again.

Basic book geek things:
This is a beautifully bound book. It has the feel of books that just cant be bought any more. The pages are nice and thick. I believe if you have kids this will be one book you can pass down to them without much worry of its structural integrity.

The pictures in the book are beautiful. No other word covers some of the masterpieces shown therein.

There are illustrations that are hand drawn. And though they get the message across I wish they would have been computer generated for a bit more clarity. But that is the only real negative from the whole book. Usually these books are lightweight and pontificate greatly on the things that dont matter much. This book is stuffed with things and you walk away knowing the authors did their due diligence. The historical material that was consumed by the authors in preparation for this book was great.

So what is it about?
Though they didnt say this it is about throwing your tape away, this is one of the take aways I got. It says rather than being bound to the tape, you make things in proportion using ratios and using dividers and a sector (a tool I didnt know existed but makes sense when you read about it). It covers how throughout history artisans used basic ratios to construct things with hardly any formal dimensions. They would make it all using ratios. The authors begin with the columns that the Greeks/Romans used in architecture showing how they relate in every aspect from large to small to the whole of the column.

Moving on they show how this can be applied to anything you make in the shop: Stile and rail width changes due to parallax.

The book ends with 9 projects which are made using this method based on one module. For instance: A step stool with the module being hand-span and the rest of the stool being based off of this.

I do wish they had a reference chart in the back for ratios etc. One page packed with the information for those of us who have yet to get it all memorized/perfected. Also a nod to the Golden ratio (Phi: 1.61803398875) would have been nice. That could have been a section in itself.

As a design engineer this book will help me in what makes me cash and what I love to do (furniture).

I would say to go ahead and buy it. It is worth the cash.
http://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/by-hand-eye-1

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.




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SirIrb

1239 posts in 1134 days



48 comments so far

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BigRedKnothead

8509 posts in 1886 days


#1 posted 03-02-2015 01:48 PM

Great review. I find I can’t go through this book without a some dividers and paper handy. It’s definitely impacted my furniture designs.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

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RogerBean

1605 posts in 2857 days


#2 posted 03-02-2015 01:56 PM

Thanks for the review. I just finished the book and was about to do one myself, as I believe this to be one of the most significant woodworking books in a long, long time. It explains the artisans who created some of the finest masterpieces of history used a rather simple system of proportions, contrasts, and punctuation to consistently achieve balance and harmony in the things they built.

While ancient, the elements of good design have not changed, but have fallen into disuse with the advent of machine made products. Measurement has largely replaced proportion as a working guide, and not for the better. What we often fail to achieve with today’s CAD programs, these craftsmen achieved with a pair of dividers.

I enthusiastically add my recommendation of this landmark book. It’s a must read for anyone who cares about the design and creation of wonderful furniture, whether traditional, craftsman, shaker, or contemporary. Walker and Tolpin have done us a great service.

Roger

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

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SirIrb

1239 posts in 1134 days


#3 posted 03-02-2015 01:59 PM

What RogerBean Said.

And I am a CAD guy to the bone. I do it all day every day. But there is tons of beauty that is lacking with the hands off method.

You said some of what I wanted to but, not having the book at work couldnt remember.

Great read.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View Buckethead's profile

Buckethead

3194 posts in 1772 days


#4 posted 03-02-2015 09:00 PM

That’s it. I’m going to lost art press right now.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

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CharlesA

3305 posts in 1701 days


#5 posted 03-02-2015 09:05 PM

I haven’t read the book yet, but I have looked at a video and seen info on classes, etc. I think the reason the golden ratio isn’t mentioned is because that goes against his whole premise, that the ratios you use grow organically (your hand) and a divider. He uses different ratios for different things—the golden ratio ends up being a bit artificial, particularly as it is expressed in decimal form.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Rick_M's profile (online now)

Rick_M

11096 posts in 2284 days


#6 posted 03-02-2015 10:58 PM

The step stool video did a great job explaining the basics but does he address arbitrary proportions like the length vs width of a side table, table length vs apron height, or height vs diameter of a turned vase? (those are just some examples) I’m not setting up for an attack on the book by any means, it sounds fascinating, but we’ve all read books that promised the stars and left us on the moon. I guess what I’m asking is using this book, can I design anything with good visual proportions without ever using a ruler or any tried ratio like thirds or Fibonacci?

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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SirIrb

1239 posts in 1134 days


#7 posted 03-02-2015 11:25 PM

He doesn’t hit turning. But the concept of taking a module or your first main distance or measurement and using that as the premises for setting up other details, be them width and depth or molding detail sizes is all covered. Basically when you build a table now you may make the apron 5 inches because it fits your eye, in this theory you may make the apron a ratio of 1:8 the module. don’t like 1:8 because it ends up being 4.24 inches, go 1:7. It may end up being around your 5” apron but it would be proportionate.
Don’t just take my word for it, type it in the interweb machine and see what everyone is saying. No, it won’t design for you but it will change the game. I have been a design engineer for 16 years and this is a breath of fresh air. I design first class air plane seats. Yes, the book even changed that game.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

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TopamaxSurvivor

18189 posts in 3579 days


#8 posted 03-03-2015 04:23 AM

Great review, thanks. One reason he probably did not mention the Golden Ratio might be precise mathematical compliance is not necessary and it is really a modern invention according to Mario Livio

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View SirIrb's profile

SirIrb

1239 posts in 1134 days


#9 posted 03-03-2015 12:41 PM

As soon as I read that it made sense. You got me. Also, somewhere else i read that the golden ratio is a Victorian “Invention”. But it does show up in nature. I am pulled on it. I guess I will go with straight ratio and proportions and see how it works.


Great review, thanks. One reason he probably did not mention the Golden Ratio might be precise mathematical compliance is not necessary and it is really a modern invention according to Mario Livio

- TopamaxSurvivor

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View JimDaddyO's profile

JimDaddyO

533 posts in 2982 days


#10 posted 03-03-2015 01:46 PM

Got it, reading it, about 5 chapters in now and enjoying it.

-- my blog: http://watertoneworkshop.blogspot.ca/ my You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA5AretE3xPoVDV61AxUdUA?view_as=subscriber

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SirIrb

1239 posts in 1134 days


#11 posted 03-03-2015 01:47 PM

Please let me know what you think. I was happy with everything from the binding to it being delivered 3 days early.


Got it, reading it, about 5 chapters in now and enjoying it.

- JimDaddyO


-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View RogerBean's profile

RogerBean

1605 posts in 2857 days


#12 posted 03-03-2015 03:11 PM

George Walker’s site (design matters) is always worth a read. His post this morning is a good one. https://georgewalkerdesign.wordpress.com
Roger

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View SirIrb's profile

SirIrb

1239 posts in 1134 days


#13 posted 03-03-2015 03:20 PM

Good article. I cant wait for the work book that they are writing and, hopefully, the “New Book” is not the work book. Yes, I will buy both.


George Walker s site (design matters) is always worth a read. His post this morning is a good one. https://georgewalkerdesign.wordpress.com
Roger

- RogerBean


-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View Rick_M's profile (online now)

Rick_M

11096 posts in 2284 days


#14 posted 03-03-2015 06:06 PM


Don t just take my word for it, type it in the interweb machine and see what everyone is saying.

- SirIrb

I looked up the handful of reviews and according to one this is primarily a geometry reference. And I found there is a second book planned that will focus on design. Another review mentioned there are errors in two music related ratios that will be corrected in future printings. I look forward to reading this at some point. Thanks for the review.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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SirIrb

1239 posts in 1134 days


#15 posted 03-03-2015 06:14 PM

I caught the reference to another book this morning. I really cant wait. As far as the music reference, got me. I remember Pythagoras [words words words] and something about him walking past a blacksmiths shop. As far as music theory and accuracy, I usually rely on Metallica for that and take them at their word.

Hope you like the book.

Don t just take my word for it, type it in the interweb machine and see what everyone is saying.

- SirIrb

I looked up the handful of reviews and according to one this is primarily a geometry reference. And I found there is a second book planned that will focus on design. Another review mentioned there are errors in two music related ratios that will be corrected in future printings. I look forward to reading this at some point. Thanks for the review.

- Rick M.


-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

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