I am struck by how closely the dimensions of the 7th century Stonyhurst Gospel (now renamed as St. Cuthbert’s Gospel of St. John) match the screen size of the Sony Portable Reader System PRS-505. On the left is a model of the Gospel, which is described in the literature as being 134-138mm high, and 90-95mm wide (1:1.49). The screen of the Sony Reader is 124mm high and 92mm wide (1:1.35). Coincidence? Perhaps. But might their dimensions relate to our hand size or comfortable handheld viewing range? These books are separated by 13 centuries!
I played with the Sony last weekend at the Small Press Fair in NYC. I was impressed by the resolution of the eink at any viewing angle, but page turns were agonizingly slow, and accompanied by an epeliptic inducing flash of background reversal– the text would go white, and the “page” black for a split second. I also tried out a prototype of the next version, which has a touch screen interface, but doubt this would be a great advantage when reading.There is a promotion on now at Sony— enter promo code: 10sonyclassic You can get 10 free ebooks to read on your computer or ebook reader from the “classics” collection– think 19th C. standard DWM’s.
I think the Stonyhurst needs a tagline too. How about “The Stonyhurst: Carry the Gospel of St. John in one hand.”
James Gleick wrote a op-ed about books, physicality and publishing in the New York Times. He writes, “As a technology, the book is like a hammer. That is to say, it is perfect: a tool ideally suited to its task. Hammers can be tweaked and varied but will never go obsolete.” This succinctly sums up the relationship between two of my passions- books and tools. He ends with a charge to those who make books, “Go back to an old-fashioned idea: that a book, printed in ink on durable paper, acid-free for longevity, is a thing of beauty. Make it as well as you can. People want to cherish it.”
I made this shoulder plane a couple of years ago because I was too cheap to purchase a lee valley shoulder plane as an experiment. I ended up making a set of different sizes, partly due to the thrill of rapid learning when you step out of your area of expertise. Although it looks complex, it is only marginally more difficult than making a knife, since a plane is basically a jigged knife. According to Salamon’s Dictionary of Woodworking Tools, shoulder planes appeared in the 19th century, and were only made of metal. “Their purpose is to clean rebates, shoulders of tenons, etc. across the grain.”
This one is made up of a rosewood core, brass sides and a dovetailed steel sole and has a three quarter inch cutting width. The blade is advanced by tapping on it’s end, which is hidden under the handle in this image, and released by tapping on the back of the plane. I made this only using hand tools- hacksaw, files, jeweler’s saw, tap and a drill. The sides were tapped then threaded with 8/32 stainless steel rod. I find metal dovetails almost easier to make than wood ones- the angle of the dovetail is 60 degrees, which is the same as a three sided file. If you leave the pins and tails slightly proud, they can be hammered slightly to fill small gaps. Since the bed of the plane can be easily filed, the fine tuning can take place after the sides are assembled. I was trying to give it a streamlined Deco look, and it works great.