below, and springs open when left to itself, but is closed by a strut, which is loosely attached to the stool by a tenon and mortise, and rests in a groove in the moveable jaw. When the strut is pulled downwards, by a string leading to the treadle, it closes the flexible jaw of the vice. In the plan the jaws are inclined some twenty degrees, so as to be at right angles to the path of the workman's right hand.
In the following descriptions of counterpart sawing, the several methods will be noticed in that order which appears to offer the most facility of explanation, regardless of other considerations.
In buhl-work the patterns generally consist of continuous lines, of which the honeysuckle ornament may be taken as a familiar example. To make this, two pieces of veneer of equal size, say of ebony and holly, are scraped evenly on both sides with the toothing-plane, and glued together with a piece of paper between, for the convenience of their after separation.* Another piece of paper is glued outside the one or other veneer, and on which the design is sketched; a minute hole is then made with a sharp-pointed awl or scriber, for the introduction of the saw, that spot being selected in which the puncture will escape observation.
* Veneers, like other thin plates, are pinched by one corner with a screw clamp to the table or bench; the tools are applied from the fixed end, in order that they may pull the material and keep it straight instead of forcing it up in a ware.
The buhl-cutter being seated on the horse, the saw is inserted in the hole in the veneers, and then fixed in its frame; the work, held in the left hand, is placed in the vice, which is under control of the foot, and the saw is grasped in the right hand, with the fore-finger extended to support and guide the frame; the medium and usual position of which is nearly horizontal and at right angles to the path of the saw.
The several lines of the work are now followed by short quick strokes of the saw, the blade of which is always horizontal; but the frame and work are rapidly twisted about at all angles, to place the saw in the direction of the several lines. Considerable art is required in designing and sawing these ornaments, so that the saw may continue to ramble uninterruptedly through the pattern, whilst the position of the work is as constantly shifted about in the vice, with that which appears to be a strange and perplexing restlessness.
When the sawing is completed, the several parts are laid flat on a table, and any removed pieces are replaced. The entire work is then pressed down with the hand, the holly is stripped off in one layer with a painters palette-knife, which splits the paper, and the layer of holly is laid on the table with the paper downwards, or without being inverted.
The honeysuckle is now pushed out of the ebony with the end of the scriber, and any minute pieces are picked out with the moistened finger, these are all laid aside: the cavity thus produced in the ebony is now entirely filled up with the honeysuckle of holly, and a piece of paper smeared with thick glue, is rubbed on the two to retain them in contact. They are immediately turned over, and the toothings or fine dust of the ebony are rubbed in to fill up the interstices; a little thick glue is then applied, and rubbed in, first with the finger, and then with the pane of the hammer, after which the work is laid aside to dry.
When thoroughly dry, it only remains to scrape the bottom with the toothing-plane or, when the work is small, with its iron alone, and then the buhl is ready to be glued on the box or furniture in the manner of an ordinary veneer, as already explained; when the work is again dry, it is scraped and polished. Exactly the same routine is pursued in combining the holly ground and the ebony honeysuckle, and these constitute the counter or counterpart buhl, in which the pattern is the same but the colours are reversed.
It is obvious that precisely the same general method would be pursued to make four satin-wood honeysuckles at the respective angles of a rosewood box; the veneers for which would be then selected of the full size, and glued together with paper interposed. To ensure the exact similitude of the several honeysuckles, one of them having been cut out would be printed from, by sticking it slightly to the table, dabbing it with printing-ink, and then taking impressions, to be glued on the other angles of the box at their exact places. The counter would have, in this case, a satin-wood ground, with the honeysuckles in rosewood.
To advance another stage, three thicknesses of wood may be glued together, as rosewood, mahogany, and satin-wood, and a center ornament added to the group of four honeysuckles. The three thicknesses, when cut through, split asunder, and re-combined, would produce three pieces of buhl-work, the grounds of which would be of rosewood, mahogany, and satin-wood, with the honeysuckle and center of the two other colours respectively. Such are technically known as works in three woods, and constitute the general limit of the thicknesses, but the patterns consist of many more parts than here supposed.
In a series of three woods in the possession of the author, or three veneers, cut and interchanged as above explained, the three tablets each present forty-eight different pieces, and by the introduction of a broad arabesque band, the ground consists of a central panel of one colour, and a margin of another. It is the general aim so to arrange the design as to have about an equal quantity of each colour, to make every combination effective, or without the predominance of any one colour.
Before glueing such works together, it is sometimes required to take off a printed impression for future use; in such cases one thickness is entirely stripped off, and those pieces of this thickness which best display the character of the pattern, are slightly glued on their corresponding places on the two thicknesses, and project therefrom in the manner of type; so that they alone receive the printing-ink, and return it to the paper pressed upon them with the hand, or with a tool handle used as a burnisher.