Practical Carriage Building

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

Carriage Building Introduciton

Introductory remarks regarding Timber, Plans for a Carriage Shop, Tools, Floor and Bench, and Woodworking Appliances. There are so many matters pertaining to the arrangement of the carriage shop—the timber used, plans of shop, tools, —that it is but fitting that the opening chapter should be devoted to the consideration of these subjects.

To the carriage woodworker the quality and character of the timber used is a matter of prime importance, and how to secure it is quite as well worth considering as is the style the vehicle he is to build. The subject is too extended to permit its being treated in detail herein, but a brief review may suffice to interest and lead to more extended study. The hard woods used are hickory, oak, ash, elm, locust, beech, gum, cherry, and black walnut; the two last mentioned, however, have become too expensive for general use. Whitewood, basswood, and pine are the soft woods, their importance ranking in the order named.

When such a variety is used, economy suggests that the selections be made with care. In the first place, seasoned timber is an absolute necessity, and as there must always be a stock ripening, the storage rooms should be so arranged that the seasoned and unseasoned are separate. Then too plank must be piled in a manner that will reduce handling to a minimum, particularly if thin stock. There are certain pieces that can be sawed out in large quantities and piled up in a manner that will permit their seasoning without losing shape, and also make them accessible. All that is required is to carefully assort the various sizes and kinds before piling. Axle beds, spring bars, perches, head blocks, side bars, poles, shafts, cross bars, and a great variety of straight stock, as well as such body stuff as door and standing pillars, top rails and curves, and often top rails, arm pieces, and even rockers and bottom sides, may be sawed and stacked up in separate piles or racks. Small manufacturers who do not have power of their own, but send all plank to the mill to be sawed, will find it not only convenient but also economical to mark up the entire plank into such strips or forms as will be needed, in addition to the original pieces. It costs no more to keep sawed stock than it does to keep the plank, and much time can be saved by having pieces ready for use.

Hickory, oak, ash, and locust for carriage parts can be sawed before the plank is thoroughly seasoned, and then racked up in a well ventilated loft. When free from excessive heat or moisture, they will dry out without being attacked by insects or injured by the changes in the atmosphere. Soft stock, such as panels, seat ends and backs, bottom boards and roofing, can be sawed up in lengths, racked up in accordance to width, in a manner that will insure their not warping, and where loss from handling may be avoided entirely. It is almost impossible to handle thin stock in long boards without splitting, but if cut up as directed, the loss will be trifling.

Convenient tools for general shop use are essential, and the manufacturer who fails to provide these, acts against his own interest. The journeyman is expected to furnish his bench tools, but not such articles as wood or Iron clamps, wood or iron hand screws, glue pots, saw horses, trusties, and draft boards. If the supply of these is ample, it will facilitate work and prevent much discontent among workmen. Wood hand screws should be in three sizes. The complement for each bench will consist of four twenty-inch, one dozen twelve inch, and half a dozen six-inch. There should be two long clamps to each bench, and not less than one dozen and a half thumb screws, one glue pot—not less than quart size. One white lead pot, two glue and one lead brush also needed to each bench.

Convenient grind stones, propelled by power whenever possible, and when not, by foot gearing, should be in a convenient location. A small hand or jig saw, propelled by power, will be found profitable in shops where other machinery is not used. A store room, no matter how small the factory, wherein can be kept screws, files, bolts, sand paper should be provided.

Cleanliness is an important feature, and once a week at least, the wood shop should be thoroughly swept and the windows cleaned. Glue pots should be cleaned daily during warm weather. Unless this is done, the glue will decompose and its strength will be lost. Decomposition is decay, and the slightest taint indicating its presence should act as a warning against its use. Even in cold weather it is a poor plan to make up more glue at one time than will be needed for two days’ use, as reheating weakens it as surely as does decomposition, but riot quite so quickly.

Sinks, water closets, and lockers for clothes all tend to promote cleanliness and to administer to the comfort of the workmen. They cost but little to erect and should be provided unhesitatingly.