The extraordinary favor which has been accorded to the first part of The Workshop Companion - over twenty-five thousand copies having been sold without any special effort - has induced the author to prepare a second part, containing matter for which he has received numerous inquiries from readers of the first part.
In doing this he has received aid from some of the best practical writers in the country, and feels assured that the matter now given will prove as thorough, as reliable, and as clearly expressed as that which preceded it. So that the work now forms a compact and convenient cyclopedia of information for everyday life.
In collecting the information here given great care has been taken to offer nothing but what is thoroughly reliable. It is a fact well known to all intelligent technologists that a very large proportion of our best recipes are to be found in volumes published many years ago, whence they have been copied and recopied by different compilers. And it is also a fact, though one less generally known, that the sources of new information upon which these same compilers depend are just the ones in which the most recent knowledge is not to be found. As a general rule the authors or compilers of our modern collections of recipes have gone to the "Question and Answer" columns of the popular scientific and technical journals, ignorant of the fact that even when these questions are bona fide, the answers are usually taken from some one of the old recipe-books. Indeed it often happens that even when the questions are the genuine inquirings of some seeker after special knowledge, and the answers are given by fellow-subscribers, the latter obtain their replies from commonplace and easily accessible books of recipes, and send them to the journal more for the sake of seeing themselves in print than from any other motive. Now and then we find a reply which is based upon the actual and intelligent experience of the correspondent, and such replies are beyond all value. But unfortunately such information is as rare as it is valuable.
The difficulty of attaining simplicity and trustworthiness in a work of this kind is best illustrated by the statement of the compiler of one of the most extensive collections of recipes published in this country. He tells us that he set out with the intention of carefully sifting the vast accumulation at his command, and preparing a collection of popular and domestic recipes which should contain only those whose practical utility had been established, either by actual trial or by the guarantee of undoubted authorities. But he further tells us that as the work progressed this was found to be impracticable; and those who are competent to examine his book critically will find that he has ended by publishing everything - good, bad, and indifferent, - the same recipe frequently appearing in a slightly different form half a dozen times!
Several of the articles in this volume, although original with the editor, have appeared in the mechanical journals of the day, and have been thence copied into other publications, and generally without credit. This is notably the case with the articles Cements, Soldering and Brazing, Weight of Patterns for Castings, Nails, Glue, and some others, which have been copied not only into contemporary journals but into numerous books of recipes and works on mechanics. These articles were written for the first volume of The Manufacturer and Builder, of which the author of this volume was editor-in-chief, and for The Technologist. As for The Workshop Companion itself, it has simply served as a mine from which editors and contributors might draw short and valuable articles when their pages were otherwise destitute of sound practical matter. In fact, one rather pretentious English periodical has published nearly the whole of it, piece by piece, and without the least credit!
All this, however, is offered in a spirit of explanation, - not of petulant complaint.
The size of the present work has been greatly reduced and its actual intrinsic value proportionately increased, by adhering strictly to the dictionary form. In works which are divided into so-called "Departments," the same information is given over and over again, in almost the same words, under the different heads. Thus in one of the $5 books now in the market we find the same recipe repeated at five different places! The absurdity of having "Departments" for Blacksmiths, Gunsmiths, Machinists, Painters, Cabinetmakers, etc., is seen at once when we ask the compilers to point out the difference between the process for casehardening as used by blacksmiths and that employed by gunsmiths; or the varnishing of wood as applied by painters and by cabinetmakers. Tell us how to caseharden, and place the information under the letter C; or, if you choose, under the word "Iron," with a cross-reference from "Caseharden," and then blacksmiths, cutlers, engineers, gunsmiths, machinists, amateurs, and every one else can use it, and no space is wasted by giving the same information in half a dozen different places to as many different artisans. And by a liberal use of cross-references, as is done in this work, no difficulty need be met in finding any particular item of information.
Before closing this preface there is one point concerning which we can not refrain from expressing a hope, - and that is in regard to the aid which amateurs and young people will derive from the volume. There are a hundred little things which may be done in every household to an advantage greater than that arising from any mere saving of money or actual convenience. Boys who occupy themselves in the evenings binding books and decorating glass will not be likely to long for the saloon and the billiard-table; and girls who have some pleasant occupation will not break their hearts because they are not taken every week to the theater or the concert. As a protection to young people there is nothing like giving them something to do that will interest them. But in order that they may be interested they must be able to do well whatever they undertake to do at all; and it is hoped that this book will on many occasions aid them in securing the necessary success.