Practical Carriage Building

Compiled by M.T. Richardson, Vol.1. 1891


With a view to furnishing, in a condensed form, practical information upon all minor matters pertaining to carriage making, the publisher of PRACTICAL CARRIAGE BUILDING has caused to be compiled a great variety of short articles bearing directly upon the Woodwork Department, and has so arranged and classified them as to afford a convenient and reliable book of reference to the worker. Abstruse theory and complicated rules are made secondary to practical instruction. This volume is, in fact, an epitome of the principal methods of construction, as expressed by workmen who have gained their knowledge from every-day experience. In this respect it differs from any previous publication, in that it represents no one man's views upon any one subject. As in such cases, it will be found that there are apparent contradictions regarding methods; but as no two authorities follow the same course throughout, the contradictions are more apparent than real.

One advantage in thus giving the results attained by different workmen is that they meet a variety of conditions; and the man who is desirous of learning new ways will find conditions that meet the immediate situation. To the young workman these directions must prove valuable they are given in the simplest language that will serve to make clear the object of the authors.

The profuse use of illustrations places each individual subject before the reader in a much clearer light than could have been done by words alone. Not the least among the subjects of interest is the description of numerous appliances for labor-saving-appliances of simple forms and construction, which bring them within the range of the workman's skill to produce.

Workmen as a rule read-too little on topics pertaining to their business. This is due in great part to the fact that the treatment of the subjects is from a scholarly rather than a shop standpoint, and practical mechanics is subordinated to elegance in phraseology, and the practical man who has but few hours for study, tires before he has learned what the writer is trying to teach. Articles written for shop men by shop men carry a weight that the most skillfully written essays by professors cannot command.

There is a kinship in thought as well as in blood, and nowhere is this more clearly shown than in practical mechanics. Plain, simple, correct language, stripped of all redundancy of words or of style, which serve simply as polish, is easily understood, and in the treatment of practical questions is much to be preferred to the polished expressions so essential to classical literature.

In mechanics as in science there is a primary and a higher grade; but most works are prepared for the higher, and by them they invite the student to neglect the simpler for the more advanced studies-a mistake similar to teaching a child to read as soon as it has learned its letters. A mechanic well versed in the rudiments finds little difficulty in working out intricate problems, and is thoroughly fitted to grasp the higher principles of his art. To acquire this rudimental knowledge the instruction must be in language that can be understood and the teachers must be many. Books of instruction therefore, like PRACTICAL CARRIAGE BUILDING, become of the first value both to the student and the man whose opportunities have been few.

With us the well being of the country is in the hands of the masses, and it becomes important that they be educated up to a higher standpoint where they are prepared to analyze facts and prove them from practice. This holds well in every department of life, and in none more than in the mechanical. The practical man, with a mind properly trained, works out results clean-cut, and secures success while the theorizer is harping on the old saw, "That is in opposition to mechanical laws." It is not to be understood that theory but theory is to be ignored; but theory unsupported by practice is a barrier to all advancement; whereas the two combined lead to success.

To know how to work in our country is to be able to command high wages. We are less hampered by arbitrary laws, made under conditions not now existing, than the people of other nations. Our workmen are more manly, more thoughtful, and more energetic. But they should read and study more. Therefore this little volume of nuggets, gathered from the workshop of the practical, has been prepared for and is respectfully dedicated to them by

THE PUBLISHER. New York, December 1891