To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry
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By Donald C. Williams, , Michele Pietryka-Pagán & Philippe Lafargue
“To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry” is the first English-language translation of the most important woodworking book of the 18th century.
A team of translators, writers, woodworkers, editors and artists worked more than six years to bring this first volume of A.-J. Roubo’s work to an English audience. (Future volumes of Roubo’s other works on woodworking are forthcoming.)
While the title of this work implies that it is about marquetry alone, that is not the case. “To Make as Perfectly as Possible” covers a wide range of topics of interest to woodworkers who are interested in hand-tool woodworking or history.
In addition to veneer and marquetry, this volume contains sections on grinding, sharpening, staining, finishing, wood selection, a German workbench, clock-case construction, engraving and casting brasses.
But most of all, “To Make as Perfectly as Possible” provides a window into the woodworking world of the 18th century, a world that is both strangely familiar and foreign.
Roubo laments the decline of the craft in the 18th century. He decries the secrecy many masters employed to protect craft knowledge. He bemoans the cheapening of both goods and the taste of customers.
And he speaks to the reader as a woodworker who is talking to a fellow woodworker. Unlike many chroniclers of his time, Roubo was a journeyman joiner (later a master) who interviewed his fellow tradesmen to produce this stunning work. He engraved many of the plates himself. And he produced this work after many years of study.
The Lost Art Press edition of “To Make as Perfectly as Possible” is printed to high standards rarely seen in the market today. Printed and bound in the United States, the 264-page book is printed on acid-free #60-pound paper in black and white. The pages are Smythe sewn so the book will be durable. And the cover is made from heavy 120-point boards covered in cotton cloth. The book is 8-1/2” x 12”.
In addition to the translated text, essays on the text from author Donald C. Williams and all of the beautiful plates, “To Make as Perfectly as Possible” includes an introduction by W. Patrick Edwards of the American School of French Marquetry, an appendix on the life of Roubo and a complete index.
You can download a sample section of the book here on sawing veneer.
“To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry” is available direct from Lost Art Press and from our select retailers.
To Make as Perfectly as Possible
The Different Woods Appropriate for Cabinetry
Description of the Woods of the Indies, and Their Qualities, Relative to Cabinetmaking
Alphabetic Table of the Foreign Woods
Why Not Dalbergisterie?
Descriptions of French Wood Appropriate for Cabinetry
Colors in general, and the Woods from the Indies and from France with Regards to their different colors and their nuances
The different Compositions of Dyes appropriate for dyeing Woods, and how to use them
On the sawing of Wood appropriate for Cabinetmaking
On Sawing Veneer
Description of Cabinetmakers’ Tools
The Frames [Cases] appropriate to receive Veneerwork, and how to prepare them and construct them
Of Simple Parquetry, or the Composing of it in General
The Parqueteur’s Tool Kit
The diverse sorts of Compositions in general: some detail and the Arrangement of wood veneer
Various sorts of Compositions, straight as well as circular
Make Banding With Roubo’s Template Blocks
The manner of cutting and adjusting the pieces so they are straight, and the proper Tools
Cutting and Assembling Cubic Hexagons
The manner of cutting curved pieces, and the tools that are appropriate
The 18th-century Shoulder Knife
The manner of gluing and veneering Marquetry
Why Does Hammer Veneering Work? And How Can it be Made Better?
The way to finish Veneer Work, and some different types of polish
Ornate Cabinetry, Called Mosaic Or Painted Wood, An Overview
Elementary principles of Perspective, which knowledge is absolutely necessary for Cabinetmakers
On the manner of cutting out, shading and inlaying Ornaments of wood
The way to engrave and finish wooden Ornaments
How to represent Flowers, Fruits, Pastures and Figures in wood
On the Third Type of (Veneered) Cabinetry in General
Description of the different materials that one uses in the construction of the third type of veneered Cabinetry
On the Nature of Tortoiseshell
Mastic and ‘Mastic’
Works for which one uses the third type of Cabinetmaking
How to work the different materials that are used in the construction of Marquetry, like Shell, Ivory, Horn, etc.
The manner of constructing Inlay and finishing it
I. General Idea of the different types of Mosaic
II. Ornaments in Bronze in general
III. The way to solder the Metals which one uses for different works of Cabinetry
IV. Description and practice of a Varnish appropriate to varnish and gild copper and other metals
Conclusion to the Art of Woodworking
Appendix: André-Jacob Roubo
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