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Stickley, Gustav, 1858-1942. / Craftsman homes

Cabinet work for home workers and students who wish to learn the fundamental principles of construction,   pp. 169-184

Page 171

make furniture after such models
as we show here and the very nec-
essary   element   of  usefulness is
added to the things they make. The
only difficulty is that the craft itself
is not well enough understood by
the teachers to be imparted to the
students in such a way that they
derive any permanent benefit from
it.  The teaching is, as we have said,
largely theoretical  and the object
of the whole training is mental development
along general  lines   rather than the moral
development that comes from learning to do
useful work thoroughly and well. As cabinet-
work is handled in the manual training de-
partments of the schools, it is distinctly a
side issue, and exhibitions of the work to
which public attention is frequently invited
show ambitious pieces of furniture that are
wrongly   proportioned,  badly put together
and finished in a slovenly way, thus produc-
ing exactly the opposite effect upon the pupil
from what is intended. If the State or munic-
ipal authorities would see to it that manual
training in the form of wood-working of all
kinds, and especially the making of furni-
ture, were placed under the charge of thor-
oughly   skilled craftsmen  who  understood
and were able to teach all the principles of
construction, the moral and educational effect
of such work would be almost incalculable.
    In order to make the training of any real
value, it is absolutely necessary that the stu-
(lent begin simultaneously  with mechanical
drawing and the application of its principles
to his work as he goes along.   If he began
with simple models to which could be applied
the elementary lessons in mechanical drawing,
the laying out of plans, the reading of detail
drawings and the like, and would also afford
a chance to demonstrate lessons in the use
of the square, the level, the saw and the
plane ;<a good foundation would be laid not
only for the understanding of     right prin-
ciples of construction but for the accurate
use of tools.   A boy trained in this way
would be able in future years to put his
knowledge to almost any use that was need-
ed.  Instead of this the students endeavor to
make something that is interesting and that
shows well at home or in an exhibition.  In
fact, the situation now is very much as it
would be if a student of music were to take
two or three lessons in the rudiments and
then endeavor to play a more or less elab-
orate composition.  There is no question as
to the benefit that boys, and girls too, derive
from being taught to work with their hands;
but it is better not to teach them at all than
to give them the wrong teaching.    No one
              expects   a  schoolboy  or an
              amateur worker of any age to
              make elaborate furniture that
              would    equal  similar pieces
              made   by   a trained cabinet-
              maker.   But if the student be
              taught to make small and sim-
              ple things and to make each
              one   so  that it would  pass
              muster   anywhere,  he  learns
              from the start the fundamental
              principles of design and pro-
              portion and   so  comes natu-
              rally to  understand  what is
              meant by thorough workman-
                   < ship.
                       There is no objection
                     to any worker, however
                     inexperienced, attempt-
                     ing to express his own

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