Andre-Jacques Roubo

1769: André-Jacques Roubo, L'Art du Menuisier Paris, 1769-74. Three volumes, over 300 plates.

Included in volume 1 chapters on basic geometry, uses and qualities of woods, moldings and profiles, framing, the joiners' tools and specifics of various building parts, especially doors and windows.

Chapter on Moldings

roubo_molding_planesIn his chapter on moldings, Roubo not only identifies the various types of moldings but -- within the context of 18th century European woodworking technology -- also explains the principles of their construction. (For some extended background on Moldings, click here.)

Focusing on those used in joinery, Roubo points out such principles as the necessity of adapting  moldings to fit their function, the materials, and the intended finishing of each individual work. For Roubo -- to ensure maintenance of the purity of tradition -- use only designs approved by architects.

Recently, Roubo's workbench has received considerable attention from such woodworkers a Scott Landis, Sam Allen and Chris Schwarz (each has authored his own manual on workbenches) and as articles in woodworking magazines. For an image of the Roubo workbench, click here.)

Joiners' Tools

In the 18th century, the French Journeyman craftsman was expected to own his personal small tools. The Master provided the heavy and specialized equipment. Thus it must be understood that these inventories show the Master's private small tools and the heavy shop equipment. (Apprentices were supplied with their tools as they progressed through their apprenticeship.)

When the shop was in operation, the tools listed would have been supplemented by those owned by each craftsman. A rough estimate of the number of craftsmen working in a shop can be made by counting the benches. The typical organization of a French eighteenth-century woodworking shop is clearly described in the following translated passage translated from Roubo's L'Art du Menuisier Chap. V, section t:

 
    'By shop-tools, one understands all those tools which master menuisiers are obliged to furnish for their workmen, both those which are used in common and those which are provided to each man individually.

    'Formerly they provided every possible kind of tool, but since the practice has been introduced of workmen performing their tasks on a piece-work basis, the workmen furnish themselves with all the necessary tools except the large ones called 'd'affutage', such as the benches, jointing-planes, jack-planes, etc., which they cannot be known to possess without exposure to the confiscation not only of the tools d'affutage, but also of all the other tools which are found at their homes.

    'The shop-tools are of two kinds as I have said above, i.e. those which are common to all the workers, and those which pertain to each of them individually.

    'The first kind includes the rip-saws and cut-off saws of all types, hand-saws, squares of all sizes, large marking-guages or beam-compasses, large compasses, clamps of all sizes, one or several levels, presses, reglets (a device for judging if a plank is in wind), plows of all types, large hold-fasts fitting into the legs of the bench, glue-mops, stones for sharpening tools, glue and a copper pot in which to heat it.

    'The tools pertaining to each workman which belong to the class d'affutage are first, a bench, a hold-fast, jointing-plane and jack-plane, two rabbet-planes, a bench fillister-plane, a mitre-plane, a smooth-plane, a hammer, a firmer and a chisel.[1 Chisels come in three weights; the heaviest is called mortising chisel, the next, firmer chisel, and the lightest, paring tool. It is not clear which type Roubo or the writers of the inventories mean by ciseau.]



Sources: François Leblanc, "L'Art du Menuisier, par J. A. Roubo le fils, Compagnon Menuisier, 1769", Bulletin of the Association for Preservation Technology 10, No. 4. 1978, pages 67-79; Norman Vandal, Queen Anne Furniture: History, Design and Construction . Newtown, CT: Taunton Press, 1990. Reprinted 1995. (Reprints some of Roubo's material on moldings. Except for not mentioning Daniel Marot's contribution to the design of the cabriole leg -- the central component of QA furniture -- the two-page bibliography in this manual is exceptional in its coverage of the sources.)  

A very brief entry on wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9_Jacob_Roubo