This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
There are many persons who would be glad to use tools for useful purposes if they only knew how. Rustic furniture is one mode of amusiug themselves usefully. Though in the open air this kind of seats are liable to early destruction from the influences of air and moisture, it is an object to possess some specimens in a garden or lawn. Attention to housing them in winter, will greatly add to their longer utility.
In cottages this description of furniture is very appropriate. In summer bowers, piazzas, and near or in garden walks, it is pleasant to see, if not to rest on, such objects, which have an "expression of purpose" about them satisfactory to the mind. Under a fruit tree, an easy seat is proper and comfortable. Every agricultural laborer is more or less accustomed to the use of tools, and it is surprising how a little use in the adaptation of the materials at hand increases one's facility in such work. An old apple or pear orchard furnishes capital materials; all that is required for their construction is a saw, an axe, a gouge, and a few nails. The requisite skill is possessed by every man of ordinary intelligence; the taste grows by its exercise.
The adaptation of the natural growth of a branch to the required purpose must have the first consideration and will come by a little practice. In Fig. 1, the triple fork of a branch of a tree simply reversed and flattened, forms the legs of a stool, on which a rounded piece of plank is nailed to complete it.
In Fig. 2, a branch is spliced to the main stem or front, to form legs, and the seat made as in the former instance by pieces of plank, or even more simply, by smoothing the top of the main branch, when this is tolerably thick in itself. Advantage may be taken of some of the knots and excrescences to give a grotesque resemblance to an animal, by carving a head with eyes and mouth. Such forms may be infinitely varied.
In Fig. 3, a thicker plank of elm, perhaps, should be chosen, and the edges slightly bevelled beneath. The holes should be bored with an auger, and the feet wedged in from the top. In this, as in the other figures, the difficulty consists in the choice and arrangement of such pieces as will interweave together, and form stiffening braces to the work.
The tops of tables, Fig. 4, may be made of fir plank, and have a stout split batten underneath them. If the branching will not naturally trace the legs, pieces may be grafted on, and in such cases the application of the gouge to the edges will quite take away the unpleasant effect of the junction.
In more complicated seats, such as the chair, Fig. 5, the difficulty consists in having their arms and backs made sufficiently symmetrical. A branch being chosen having the requisite bend, it must be sawn down perpendicularly to the shape which is required. Opened out, it forms two symmetrical sides properly handed, with a rounded side for the front, and flat behind.
We shall give in our next number some further illustrations of arm chairs, flower baskets, etc.