Chapter 3: 1911-1920 3:3. Typical Workshop Space Available to Amateur Woodworkers -- under construction

Until I find definite information about the reputed number of homeworkshops of this decade, I refer you to the details collected for the previous decade, 1901 to 1910. 

j d wallace 1914 jointer

In the monthly, American Homes and Gardens see box below -- the writer Edgar Morton enthuses about a growth of interest homeworkshops, spurred in part by a "revival of interest in the various arts and crafts". While Morton speaks about woodcarving -- and the necessity of a hefty workbench (mounted with a vise) -- he does not specifically mention woodworking. Photography, wireless telegraphy, and book-binding are, however, given prominence.

Regardless, we can conclude that a prevailing spirit in behalf of crafts such as woodworking in your home must have existed; otherewise publishers such as Manual Arts press would not be issuing books designed to encourage creating home workshops for woodworking at home.

As evidence, look at the online version of the 1915 edition of the Manual Arts Press catalog, an amply annotated and illustrated list that exceeds 60 pages.

    THERE is perhaps no department of the house so often overlooked and yet which would provide such pleasure and practical help as a small work room which might be called a factory in miniature. In every home, in city or country, there are numerous small repairs to be attended to but which are generally left undone be­cause they are hardly of sufficient importance for the calling in of a carpenter or a plumber. Then too, one can never be quite sure where the hammer is or who has borrowed the nails or forgotten to return the screwdriver, and to hunt up these missing but very necessary tools would require considerably more time, perhaps, than the work would be worth.

    The revival of interest in the various arts and crafts has produced a great army of home workers in wood carving, basket making, various forms of metal work and other kinds of craftsmanship which can be developed only with difficulty if one must work in the living room or in some other part of the house where the necessary disorder or noise made would annoy the other members of the family. Even the house­keeper who is most interested in the carbed chests or plate racks which the family craftsman produces will be apt to look askance at the shavings and sawdust which must be made and upon the array of tools required even though she fully realizes their importance and necessity. The members of the family who are tired out with the clay's work can hardly be expected to enthuse over the noise necessary in working brass, silver or copper into form, or in the turning of the bathroom into a place for developing the pictures of the family photographer. ...

    Source: Edgar Morton,"The Home Workshop" American Homes and Gardens october 1912. pages xviii-xix

Keep in mind that, with the start of urban electrification in 1915, city by city, the concept of the potential of a  "home shop" would begin to change: lighting from electric bulbs, socket-driven power tools (e.g., the "portable" J D Wallace jointer, introduced in 1914), taken together, I believe, would inevitably motivate enthusistic wannabe woodworkers to at least make use of the space available. (By 1930, Popular Homecraft reported the results of a survey that showed 77,000 home workshops.)

Moreover, it is obvious that Morton's survey missed some definite signs that there was an interest in woodworking, even if its pursuit required a strong determination to overcome the difficulties inherent in setting up woodworking shops in a pre-electrification era. (Aside: soon, I hope to cover in greater detail the availabilty of foot-powered woodworking machines, the same type used by Hall.

Checkout the accounts by, first, 
an 1908 magazine article by the New York businessman, A L Hall (Document 2), about finally settling upon the second floor of his suburban New York home, and/or (2) the 1910 article below by the Industrial Arts figure -- and author of several books for Manual Arts Press -- Ira S Griffith (Document 42), describing  a basement shop, complete with electric lighting and power tools.

Document 2: A L Hall Workshop at Home 1908

morris chair built by amateur woodworker, A L Hall

Document 42: Ira S Griffith's article, "Recreation With Tools" 1910 

griffith's 1910 home workshop

Back to Chapter 3