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Summer Beam Books

From Truths to Tools, By Jim Tolpin and George Walker Illustrated by Andrea Love, Lost Arts Press

From Truths to Tools, By Jim Tolpin and George Walker Illustrated by Andrea Love, Lost Arts Press

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From Truths to Tools

By Jim Tolpin and George Walker, Illustrated by Andrea Love

Good books give you a glimpse of small truths – about workbenches, joinery or sharpening, for example. Great books, on the other hand, stitch together seemingly disparate ideas to present a new way of looking at the whole world, from your marking awl, to your hand or to the line of the horizon.

“From Truths to Tools” is a hand-illustrated work that masquerades as a children’s book. There are funny drawings. There aren’t a lot of words. You can read the entire 208-page book in one sitting.

But “From Truths to Tools” somehow explains the craft, the entire physical world, our language and geometry in a way that makes you feel like the authors have revealed a huge secret to you. One that has been sitting in front of you your entire life.

The book begins with an explanation of a circle and a single point, and it then shows how those simple ideas can be used to create an entire set of layout tools – a try square, a straightedge, dividers etc. that allow you to build furniture.

Once you understand the language behind your tools, very complicated things become easy to understand. Compound joinery. Fitting odd miters. Making curves that taper.

And once you get those ideas in your head, it’s a short hop to grasp how those same ideas can be applied to building anything of any shape imaginable – skyscrapers, boats, bridges. When you can calculate if a tree will hit you when you fell it in the forest, you’ll be able to calculate the circumference of the earth.

“From Truths to Tools” is the third book from the geometry-loving team of Jim Tolpin and George Walker. Their first book, “
By Hand & Eye,” makes the case that simple whole-number ratios are the underpinning to the built world and our furniture. Their second book, “By Hound & Eye,” gives you the exercises that open your eyes to the way geometry and ratios govern our world. And the third, “From Truths to Tools,” shows how geometry creates our tools and, once understood, leads to a deeper grasp of the things we build, the world around us and even our language.

Table of Contents

Introduction     1

The Awl     8
Dividers     13
Rulers     16
Story Sticks     21
Compass     27
Spiling Baten     34
Bending Battens     47
Marking Implements     49
Plane Generators     58
Gauges     69
Squares     95
'Smart' Square     108
Plumb Line     117
Libella     122
Center Finder     128
Sector     136
Proportional Dividers     141
Scale of Chords     145
Protractor     149
Large-Scale Layout Tools     155
The Triplet     157
Carpenter's Ten-Foot Pole     160
Thirteen-Knot Cord     164
Cord of Polygones     168
Groma and Merchet     172
Cords of Magnitude and Angle     175
Chorobate     179
Cross Staff     182
Logger's Felling Gauge     186

Appendix     191
Epilogue     193

George Walker

Raised in northeast Ohio, George Walker spent the first 20 years of his woodworking in design purgatory. Then after stumbling onto the design language of the artisans, he can’t shut up about it. After four books (and working on a fifth with Jim Tolpin), and scores of magazine articles, he’s just getting started. No matter how ordinary the circumstances, George is regularly struck by the majesty and wonder of life – the way millions of colorful warblers gather at Magee Marsh before their migration across Lake Erie; the way a medieval drawing found in an old monastery can inform his work through the understanding of geometry; or the way he can now build a beautiful piece of furniture, without plans or a tape measure, using instead a stick, a piece of string and dividers. Visit George and Jim’s By Hand & Eye’s online atelier (design studio) to help you unlock your potential as a builder or maker by honing your design skills.

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